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SMC SOCCER: Belles knock off Tri-State for their ninth conference win

Kyle Cassily | Monday, October 31, 2005

Tri-State University confronted Saint Mary’s with a level of play nonexistent in the Belles’ previous meeting with the Thunder, but it was nothing an experienced Saint Mary’s squad couldn’t handle.

The Belles traveled to Michigan to take on Tri-State Saturday and returned to South Bend with a 3-1 win in hand, their ninth conference win of the year.

The victory cemented the Belles’ spot in third place in the MIAA. It gave them a four-point cushion over fourth-place Kalamazoo, the Belles’ opponent for their season finale Tuesday.

“We dominated on the whole,” junior midfielder Colleen Courtney said. “But the Tri-State team wasn’t the same team we played last time. They were definitely a stronger team. We deserved the win, we were definitely better than them.”

The last time Saint Mary’s faced the Thunder of Tri-State, it came away with a 9-1 victory on its home field and helped to propel itself up the MIAA standings.

Now, the Belles look to get their first ten-win season in program history with a win over Kalamazoo and have a near lock on an unprecedented third-place finish.

Saint Mary’s wasted little time in opening up a lead. The Belles got on the board with a 1-0 advantage in the 17th minute on a great connection between freshman Mandy Thomson and Courtney.

Courtney controlled the ball well into Thunder territory and sent a cross-pass skimming low over the ground to Thomson waiting on the left side of the goal. The freshman finished off the well-executed play with a flick of her foot to send the ball past Thunder goaltender Vickie Bearman.

Fellow freshman Lauren Hinton had a big day on the pitch as well when she notched the second and third Belles goals.

The second goal of the game, Hinton’s first, came in the 38th minute of the first half on another cross-pass play. Junior attacker Ashley Hinton fed the ball across the box to her sister on the far side, and Lauren converted for the 2-0 Belles lead.

“Mandy [Thomson] worked really well in the middle dishing up the balls, a real playmaker,” Courtney said. “[Lauren Hinton] had some good runs on the ball. They both had really good games.”

Hinton and the Belles added yet another insurance goal in the 85th minute of play to put the game at 3-0.

The Thunder refused to be shut out, however, and in the last minute of regulation, they converted on a corner kick.

Saint Mary’s goalkeeper Laura Heline made six saves during the game, and the Thunder’s Bearman stopped nine Belles’ shots.

“I think we should have had more goals,” Courtney said of the relatively low-scoring affair. “We had the opportunities; we definitely should have had more.”