A season-ending loss for the Hope College men's soccer team brought a mix of emotions from head coach Steven Smith.
Pride and sadness were felt after a 3-0 defeat at Calvin, the nation's top-ranked team, on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament.
Seven players completed their final match for the Flying Dutchmen.
"It's emotionally so hard to let go of any class," Smith said, referring to a group that included goalies Sam Barthel and Ethan Beswick, backs Michael Johns and Miguel Ramirez, forwards David Porte and Andreas Slette, and midfielder Toby Blom.
"These are good young men who just have so much heart and drive. My favorite part is what's happening off the field with them, watching them grow to be the men God intended them to be. They've got character. They've got a life that plans on serving the world. It's just a great group of young men. I am proud to have won with the over the years. I'm proud to have lost with them today."
The Flying Dutchmen finished the 2015 season with a 9-10-1 record. They have four of their five regular-season matches to reach the postseason.
Hope qualified in the MIAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive time since the four-team postseason format started in 2011.
Calvin (19-0-1 overall) scored three second-half goals — all in a span of 8 minutes and 10 seconds shortly after halftime.
The Knights advanced to Saturday's championship game and will host third-seeded Alma, a 1-0 winner at Kalamazoo Wednesday night.
Smith credited Calvin for its performance.
"I think we made a lot of the same mistakes we made the first half as we did in the second half. They just punished us for them (in the second half)," Smith said. "They were sharper on the finishes in the second half. They're a good team. Their ranking is there for a reason. They got a lot of heart."