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SMC Soccer: Season comes down to final three conference games

Kyle Cassily | Friday, October 14, 2005

When most students have gone home to enjoy a relaxing Fall Break, the Belles will be hard at work against the best the MIAA conference can throw at them.

The Saint Mary’s soccer team will play three games within the next week against Alma, Olivet and Calvin College. Alma and Calvin will travel to the Belles home turf on the next two consecutive weekends, while the women will make the trek to Olivet mid-week.

Calvin is the lone unbeaten squad left in the MIAA with a 9-0 record. Calvin has allowed only one goal to break through its defense the entire season and has put 45 into the opposition’s net.

The last time these two foes met, Calvin walked off its pitch with a 3-0 victory in hand. The Belles played tough but just could not find a way to push the ball past the wall also known as Calvin’s backfield.

Junior midfielder Colleen Courtney said the Belles’ aggressive attitude is straightforward.

“Plain and simple, beat them,” she said. “Just give them a tough game. We are sticking to how we normally play and dominate.”

Olivet will prove a tough competitor for the Belles, as the women look to improve upon their 6-4 MIAA tally, 7-6 overall. Saint Mary’s came from behind in late September to knock off Olivet, 2-1.

Olivet got on the board early in the first half, but two second half Belle goals propelled them into the win column. Olivet is currently nipping on Saint Mary’s heels in the standings. The Belles’ opponent holds fifth place with a 5-5 record, only a win away from moving into a tie with Saint Mary’s.

One of the Belles biggest concerns for the Olivet game is the close proximity it has to their prior game with Alma. They hope they will not be tired for the crucial match-up.

The first game of the three-game stretch will be the easiest for the Belles, but it will not be a cakewalk. Alma holds a 3-7 record and the seventh MIAA spot. In their last meeting, the Belles triumphed, 3-0, but Alma fought from start to finish against the superior Saint Mary’s squad.

Alma has struggled on offense with only eight goals against league rivals. The Belles hope to exploit this flaw by getting to an early lead and force the inconsistent Alma attack to make the mistakes in desperation.

“We’ve been having really good games lately,” Courtney said. “We had the momentum coming off of Hope. Even though we didn’t win, it was a really good game and we played the same [against Albion on Wednesday]. We had possession the majority of the time; it was good to have a road win.”

The Belles will emerge from the three-game stretch to open their season-ending drive towards a MIAA title with games against Adrian, Tri-State and Kalamazoo College.