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Belles set to kick off year

Ryan Duffy | Tuesday, September 7, 2004

After finishing last year with the most conference wins in the history of the program, Saint Mary’s looks to start this year on a similar tone when it faces off against the University of St. Francis (Ind.) today in its first game of the season. “We want to come out hard since this is our first game of the year,” said junior defender Maura Schoen. “We want to try to set the pace for the season, and start out with a win.” Schoen is one of many returning upperclassmen who hope to take the Belles even farther this year. As the team’s leading goal scorer last year, midfielder Jen Concannon looks to lead the offensive attack once again in an effort to earn her third All-MIAA selection. The team’s other captain, senior defender Katie Taylor, will join her. Taylor, along with teammates Shannon Culbertson and Jen Herdman, anchor a strong defensive squad that must deal with the loss of two-year captain and second team All-MIAA defensive specialist Lynn Taylor to graduation.However, the team’s much-improved goals against average of 1.4 in 2003 bodes well for this year’s Saint Mary’s backfield. The defense will be an important aspect under the game plan of new head coach Peter Haring, who will look to improve upon the success of last year’s team. Haring hopes the defense can provide consistently strong play, which will allow the midfielders – including Concannon, who along with Wendy Irvin scored 50 percent of the team’s goals last year – to play with possession and fire more open runs into the attack. He also hopes to get contributions on offense this year from midfielders Carrie Orr and Emily Wagoner. Under the strategy that the best offense will come from a good defense, Haring has his sights set on a top-three MIAA finish, and from there, a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The new coach’s game plan will face its first test today, when the Belles open up their season at home. Because their match against University of St. Francis is not a conference game, the game will provide a good chance for the players to develop chemistry and work on technique.”I’m really excited for the start of the season,” sophomore forward McKenna Keenan said. “I can’t wait to see how our team works together, to see how the upperclassmen play with the underclassmen and work together.”Under the leadership of our new coach, we’re hoping to win conference.”