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Belles fight for life in playoffs against Hope

Ryan Duffy | Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Though they won’t make the NCAA Tournament this year, the Belles know they can hang with the best of them.

Saint Mary’s will get to prove just how talented their team is when they face off today against Hope College, which currently sits atop the standings in the MIAA conference.

“Hope is a very strong team, and the games against them are always good because they’re top competition,” senior captain Jen Herdman said. “We’re all excited for today’s game. Hopefully, we’ll have some better luck on the road and take home a win.”

The Belles looked strong in their first meeting with Hope this season, pulling out a 2-0 victory at home. The loss to Saint Mary’s is the only conference loss for Hope all year, and both teams eagerly anticipate a rematch.

“We’re excited because we always enjoy playing Hope,” senior Shannon Artnak said. “They’re another high caliber team that plays a style of soccer similar to ours.”

Although the rematch against Hope was expected to be the deciding factor in whether the Belles made the playoffs, the team still expects to play at a high level.

“We definitely will come out with some intensity, because we’re not the type of team to give up,” Herdman said.

“We’ll try to upset some other people’s seasons if we can, and try to get as many wins under our belt.”

Unlike their first game of the year, however, the Belles will no longer have the advantage of playing on their home field.

“They [Hope] are tough to play at home, and they’re probably not happy about us beating them earlier in the year,” Herdman said.

“We’ll try to show them today that that’s the way it should be.”

In their last four games on the road, the Belles have been unable to post a victory, and their road record for the year stands at 1-4-1.

“We’ll be looking to improve on our road record, because it’s clear to see that road games have been a problem for us,” Artnak said. “We have two away games left, and it would be nice if we could put two more points in the win column there.”

Even with high expectations gone unfulfilled, a second win against Hope would leave the Belles feeling confident about their season.

“Hope is a strong team, and beating the top conference team is always a big accomplishment; even if we don’t make the NCAA, the season has still been very successful,” Herdman said.

“We’ve got a great record, we’ve played some amazing games, and we’ve beat some very good teams in this conference. Just because we didn’t pull off everything we should have doesn’t mean this season wasn’t a success.”