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SMC SOCCER: Belles return to home field

Kyle Cassily | Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Belles will return to their home turf today from an extended tour of preseason tournament exhibitions and early MIAA road games to tackle the physical play of Albion College.

Saint Mary’s did not finish the road sojourn with the best record (1-3 overall, 0-1 MIAA), but is confident that the change of scenery and the welcome embrace of the Belles’ campus will spark a much-needed victory.

The schedule for the Belles is not an easy one to play, with home and away series with Hope. The women lost to Hope 2-0 in that series road game last weekend. There are also Calvin, Alma, Olivet and Tri-State, all of which bring the Belles a unique challenge on the field. As a result every game won is crucial – making those games played at home that much more significant in the long grind of the fall season.

“Albion always brings a strong, physical team,” Belles coach Caryn Mackenzie said. “The fact that we are on our field for the first time will help us set the tone.”

The tone they hope to set will undoubtedly be an offensive one, as the Belles have managed to net four goals for the season to date, with all four coming in a 4-3 double overtime victory over SUNY-Brockport in the season opener. The three straight shutouts imposed on the Belles have not come as a result of a lack of ability on the offense; Mackenzie has repeatedly praised the strong play of her attackers and midfielders.

The players have taken it all in stride as well, realizing the meat of the season is still ahead of them.

“Every game we have played we have seen some really good stuff,” midfielder Carrie Orr said. “We have played some of the best teams around. We know that and we think we can play with anyone.”

The competition level has been high so far this season. The Belles faced DIII national contender Illinois Wesleyan and one of the top MIAA teams in Hope College.

Albion will continue this trend in Belles opponents, as it is also a perennial contender in the MIAA.

“They are usually one of our toughest competitors, they are usually very aggressive,” Orr said. Last year Saint Mary’s split the season series, coming away with a 2-0 win at home and a 3-2 overtime loss on the road.

The whistle will kick off the Belles’ home season at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, a start that the Belles hope will get them started on the right track once again.

“It is always much more fun to play at home, you have got your fans and everything,” Orr said. “We are really looking forward to it. We are ready to bring out a lot of energy for the game.”