At Wheaton (Ill.) College, sisters Laura and Rachel Karsten of Spring Lake are heading to the NCAA Division 3 tournament after the Thunder defeated Augustana College on Saturday, 2-0, to clinch the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin championship. The victory clinched an automatic berth to the “big dance” for the Thunder, who improve to 17-3-2 this season.
Laura Karsten, a returning Division 3 All-American defender, has started all 22 games for Wheaton this season. The standout senior is part of a defensive unit that has helped limit opponents to a mere 17 goals this season. Offensively, she has chipped in with three goals on 10 shots on goal.
Rachel Karsten, a freshman defender, has appeared in seven games for the Thunder.
At Macomb, Ill., on Saturday, Western Illinois’ senior Nate Bruinsma scored his team-best fifth goal of the season, helping lead the Leathernecks to a 2-1 win over the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the team’s Summit League regular-season finale. The victory helped the Leathernecks clinch a berth in the four-team league playoffs, which will be hosted by Western Illinois on Friday and Sunday. WIU and Kansas City will meet again in the opening round of the tournament.
Bruinsma scored in the 49th minute on Saturday, when he took advantage of a 1-on-1 situation with a strong blast just inside the right post. It was the senior forward’s fourth goal in as many games.
Also on Saturday, Lisa Sorenson and her Lake Forest College women’s soccer team clinched a spot in the NCAA Division 3 tournament following their 2-0 win over visiting St. Norbert. The victory helped the Foresters clinch the Midwest Conference Tournament title.
Sorenson, a senior forward, has four goals and nine assists in 20 games for Lake Forest this season.
Also advancing to the NCAA Division 3 tournament was Calvin College’s women’s soccer team, which defeated rival Hope College on Saturday, 2-1, in overtime.
Spring Lake native Lauren Merz is a freshman goalie for the Knights. She has appeared in four games with one start, and has allowed just one goal in more than 141 minutes of action.
BRINK EARNS MIAA HONOR
Fruitport graduate Dani Brink was named the Specialty Player of the Week in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association following her stellar showing last week for St. Mary’s (Ind.) College.
Brink, a senior setter, started the week strong with a 12-dig, 34-assist performance in the Belles’ three-game sweep at Alma College on Oct. 24.
St. Mary’s was swept by Calvin College on Oct. 26, although Brink totaled 24 assists and eight digs.
On Saturday, at a tri-meet at Hope College, the Belles fell to the host Flying Dutch, 3-0, despite 39 assists and eight digs from Brink. She later led her team to a victory against Wheaton College, 3-0, and totaled an impressive 40 assists, as well as eight digs.
Brink now ranks second in career assists at St. Mary’s with a total of 2,477. This season, she is averaging 8.7 assists and nearly two digs per game.
St. Mary’s sits at 14-14 overall, as well as 7-9 in the MIAA, which is good for sixth place.
DUFF HELPS GVSU CLINCH 11TH STRAIGHT REGIONAL TITLE
Grand Valley State University’s men’s cross country team captured the program’s 11th straight NCAA Division 2 Midwest Regional championship on Saturday.
The meet was held in Kenosha, Wis.
Redshirt freshman Joe Duff, a Grand Haven graduate, was the sixth Lakers’ runner to complete the 10K course, as he crossed the finish line in 31 minutes, 54 seconds — just 22 seconds off GVSU’s lead runner, junior Brent Showerman.
Duff and GVSU will now set their sights on the NCAA Division 2 National Championship meet, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17, in Joplin, Mo.