The Flying Dutchmen have all kinds of extra reasons to be excited for the 2009 season.
At some point in their season, coach Steve Smith's Flying Dutchmen will begin playing in the new $4 million Van Andel Soccer Stadium which is destined to become one of Division III's premier pitches. The stadium will feature seating for 1,500 fans who will watch games played on artificial turf. The stadium is equipped with lights for night games and amenities such as lockerrooms for Hope's teams, a pressbox and concession stand. The official stadium dedication is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17.
As a prelude to the season, the Flying Dutchmen travelled to Ireland the first week in August for training, competition and service. It is the fourth European trip for the Flying Dutchmen. In 2005 the team came back to win the championship of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
The Flying Dutchman had a banner season in 2008, posting an overall 14-2-4 record, but had to settle for second place in the MIAA. Through eight seasons of the new millennium the Flying Dutchmen have won more than 80% of their games (131-36-12) with four conference championships and four appearances in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
Coach Smith begins his 20th season at helm of the men's soccer program. He ranks among the winningest NCAA Division III coaches with a career record of 265-6-28.
The pre-season roster includes 19 returning letterwinners. Senior co-captains of the team are Chris Harrison of Plymouth, Minn. (Wayzata HS), John Herbert of Culver, Ind. (Culver Academies), Ausable Schwiebert of Chelsea (Chelsea HS), and John Turner of East Kentwood (East Kentwood HS).
Three returning midfielders received All-MIAA honors in 2008. Schwiebert was a first team honoree while Harrison and senior Kevin Bartosek of Traverse City (Traverse City West HS) were named to the second team.
Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Andrew Abe of Naperville, Ill. (Naperville North HS), sophomore Paul Austin of Grandville (Grandville HS), senior Justin Bailey of Portage (Portage Northern HS), junior Ross Bailey of Ogden Dunes, Ind. (Portage HS), junior Riley Byrnes of Michigan City, Ind. (Michigan City HS), junior Ryan Cotter of Zeeland (Zeeland East HS), senior Gabe Courey of Holland (Holland HS), junior Andrew Goorhouse of Caledonia (East Kentwood HS), sophomore Shaun Groetsema of Augusta (Galesburg-Augusta HS), sophomore Mitch Kinner of Kalamazoo (Portage Northern HS), junior Andrew Nichols of Traverse City (Traverse City West HS), senior Ben Rosema of Spring Lake (Spring Lake HS), junior Jeffrey Stusick of Stevensville (Lakeshore HS), and junior Aaron Van Andel of Ada (Grand Rapids Christian HS).