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SMC SOCCER: Belles get elusive tenth win

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Ten wins – the magic number that the Belles set as a goal weeks ago – was accomplished on Tuesday with a resounding 2-0 defeat of Kalamazoo College in the unfriendly confines of Michigan.

The record books are now being pulled from the shelves, and this 2005 edition of Saint Mary’s soccer is being penciled in as the greatest Belles soccer team in history.

Prior to this season, the Belles had never reached 10 conference wins in the MIAA, and with those wins comes a guaranteed third-place finish in the conference standings, also a new Saint Mary’s mark.

“It’s hard to put in words, I just feel good for them,” Belles coach Caryn Mackenzie said. “I think the fact that they finished third in the conference should work as a great springboard for next year.”

Two freshmen were the game-winning catalysts, as Whitney Fron and Mandy Thomson both scored in the second half to propel the Belles over the Hornets.

Fron found the back of the net first on a long drop pass from the right side by midfielder Ashley Hinton. The pass was timed to perfection, and Fron was able to knock the ball in without breaking stride, giving the Belles the 1-0 lead.

Lauren Hinton engineered the Belles’ second goal on a quick pass through the six-yard box to Thomson near the low post. Thomson was able to tap the ball in with her left foot, a goal Mackenzie described as “off-speed,” to pad the Saint Mary’s advantage.

“They suddenly stepped it up,” Mackenzie said of her two freshmen. “It was really a great overall team effort.”

The Belles suffered some first-half woes after missing several golden opportunities. Lauren Hinton skied a ball high over the Kalamazoo net, and sophomore forward Cat MacMillan pushed a shot wide, but the Belles were confident they would eventually get it together.

“We created really good chances for ourselves, but we couldn’t finish early in the game,” Mackenzie said. “We really controlled 85 percent of the game.”

Seniors Shannon Culbertson, Carrie Orr and Maura Schoen played solid in the back and at midfield to end their collegiate careers on top with a win. Ashley Hinton contributed on the defensive side of the ball as well to keep the Hornets from mounting a strong offensive threat and was helped out by strong play from goaltender Laura Heline and defender Justine Higgins.

The win gives the Belles 31 points in MIAA play, well out of reach of the fourth-place Hornets, who trail by seven points with only one game left to play.

“It’s a great step for our program to take that next step up,” Mackenzie said. “We’ve been hanging around the middle of the pack for awhile. I hope it gives our women the motivation to work harder in the off season, and hopefully it will make our program more attractive to some players coming in.”

The Belles are already looking to improve on their fortunes for the 2006 campaign and someday hope to challenge for the coveted MIAA title.

“We have a pretty big task in hand in replacing our three seniors, who have been rock solid in the back all year,” Mackenzie said.

“We’ll have to build for what players are returning and what players I’m trying to bring in for next year. As a coaching staff, this is our second year, and I think the continuity that the staff can bring to the program will help us out next year as well.”