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After loss to Olivet, Belles hope to rebound

Anne Loughery | Wednesday, September 29, 2004

For the Belles, the success of their entire season could be decided by this next game.

After being dealt a costly loss Saturday to Olivet College, Saint Mary’s will look to regain first place in the MIAA with a win today against Hope, its archrival and current conference leader.

“Hope has always been one of the strongest teams in the conference,” sophomore Caroline Stancukas said. “We always give our best effort when we play them, and the games are always extremely close.”

The Belles enter this game extremely driven to defeat their rival. Stancukas even went as far as predicting a victory.

“We’re going to go out strong, play our game, and we’re coming out with a win,” Stancukas said. “I guarantee it.”

Saint Mary’s currently sits tied for second in the conference rankings with Calvin, but could leapfrog to first with a win today.

“We’re all very focused on this game. We want to make a statement in the league and beat Hope,” goalie Nicole Leach said. “When they see us compete, they’ll know we’re serious. A lot of teams probably don’t take us seriously after our loss last week, but we want them to know we mean business. We know we can compete with the ‘best team’ in the league, according to the records.”

The loss to Olivet put an end to the Belles’ hopes of a perfect season, but the players are making sure to move on from the defeat and look ahead.

“We really concentrated on putting Olivet behind us,” Leach said. “We weren’t in the right mindset, and we didn’t play the best game we could have.”

Although every team in the MIAA generally fields a strong team, Saint Mary’s may have made the mistake of looking past Olivet to Hope.

“The main thing about this game is that we’re entering with a different mentality,” Stancukas said. “We walked in Saturday thinking we could blow out Olivet; we’re going to go into the Hope game playing with focus. It just made us realize that every single game needs to be taken seriously.”

Despite their loss, and their difficult upcoming schedule, the Belles remain confident about their chances, both for today against Hope, and for the rest of the season.

“We really feel like we can beat every team in this conference,” said Leach. “We’ll encounter bumps in the road like Olivet, but the good teams can put those behind them and keep going.”