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Saint Mary’s travels to Adrian for opener

Ryan Duffy | Friday, September 10, 2004

After months of training and practice, the only person who may be more excited than the Belles to start the season is their coach, Caryn Mackenzie.”This is our first conference game, and we’re all fired up to go out there and show what we can do,” Mackenzie said. “We feel we’re prepared to play; I think I’m as excited as the players are to start the season and see where this team’s talent takes us.”Saint Mary’s hopes to show its strengths the team travels to Adrian Saturday at 12 p.m. for their first contest against a MIAA conference team. The Belles should be favored against an Adrian team that went 1-18 last year, including two losses to Saint Mary’s. Adrian only returns two seniors, while the Belles feature a strong mix of upperclassmen.”We’re a very heavy senior team with seven seniors, and I think those players will play a big role in providing leadership,” said Mackenzie.One of those players is captain Jen Concannon, who scored two goals in the Belles’ 3-2 overtime win against the University of St. Francis (Ind.) on Tuesday and will look to lead the offense this Saturday. Although Mackenzie recognizes Concannon as a dominant force on the field, she is quick to stress how skilled the entire team is.”Across the board, this is one of the most talented teams in Saint Mary’s history. From the seniors all the way down to the freshmen, it’s a good mixture of upperclassmen and underclassmen.” Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the team’s talent is the amount of unity it has displayed.”The best thing I could say about this team is that they’ve had so many coaching changes, and to see the cohesion among the team, on the field and amongst themselves, is just phenomenal,” Mackenzie said. “It definitely speaks volumes about the kind of people they are.”It has been that type of unity that has also allowed the Belles to welcome a new coach so easily. After coaching at Adams High School in South Bend for the past 10 years, Mackenzie made the jump to the college level for the first time to lead Saint Mary’s this year. “As my first experience with a college team, it’s just been phenomenal,” Mackenzie said. “They’ve embraced the changes I’ve made, and they’ve all been very excited about it. I think I’ll learn as much from them as they’ll learn from me.”With such a talented team, the Belles have set the bar high for this year, looking to capture the MIAA title. Although Saint Mary’s is cautiously optimistic about Saturday’s game, they know their task won’t be easy. Mackenzie feels her team’s talent and unity give them a great chance.”We’ve got a lot of potential, and I’m going to really enjoy seeing what we can put together as a team this year,” she said.