Hudsonville girls soccer coach Holly VanNoord knows a thing or two or 75 about shutting out an opponent.
VanNoord set a state record for most shutouts in a season when she was playing goalkeeper at Unity Christian in 2011 when she finished with 24 shutouts in 27 games. VanNoord completed her career with 75 shutouts, which also is a state record.
It appears that the Eagles have learned plenty from their coach. The OK Red champions enter this week’s district tournament having allowed only three goals during its entire 16-game regular season.
“She played goalie at Liberty (University), she knows how the backline should move,” Hudsonville junior stopper Arianna Diemer said. “She is always coaching us and working with us on tactics.
“I feel like we have such good communication, and we play as a team. We all know when one person is pressuring and when one person is covering. We have good balance in the back line.”
The Eagles, 12-0-4, are playing in this week’s Division 1 district tournament at Mona Shores, and they will take on OK Red rival West Ottawa Wednesday at 7 p.m. The two teams tied 1-1 in the regular-season finale on May 24.
Hudsonville goalkeepers Clara Feenstra, a sophomore, and freshman Reid DeGeod have combined to post 13 shutouts this spring. The two have been diving up time in the net 50-50.
“Both are brand new to varsity and they have been incredible,” VanNoord said. “That is one of the toughest positions to split time, but they have such a unique bond. They have different strengths, and they push each other so much. Most teams would have conflict because you want to play. But we teach our teams to be a family, and those girls are exactly that. They are sisters and want the best for each other.”
The only opponents who scored on Hudsonville this season have been Unity Christian and Grand Haven in addition to West Ottawa. Unity and Hudsonville tied 1-1 on March 26, and the Eagles beat Grand Haven 5-1 on May 4.
“West Ottawa nailed a rocket from 35 yards out, one touch,” VanNoord said. “It was an incredible shot. If we get scored on, it should be that way.”
Hudsonville has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 43-3, and VanNoord gave plenty of praise to Diemer for the way the Eagles defense has been playing.
“She is one of the most competitive players I have coached,” VanNoord said. “She has an incredible heart for the game of soccer. She has been a best on the back line and has saved our butts many times.”
VanNoord said that Hudsonville’s defense starts with its forwards, and she added that the Eagles have talented ones, including senior Gabby Scholten. VanNoord called Scholten up to Hudsonville’s varsity her freshman season, and by her sophomore year, she was among the team’s leaders in goals and assists.
“I pulled her up her freshman year and each year has gotten better and better,” VanNoord said. “She has that internal determination to push herself. She is a dream to coach. If I was an opponent, I would not want to play against her. She is small, quick and fast. She is very talented technically and just wants to score.”
The West Ottawa-Hudsonville winner will advance to Friday’s district final at 6 p.m. The winner will take on the winner of Wednesday’s Grandville vs. Mona Shores game.