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SMC Soccer: Belles dominate Anderson

Dan Murphy | Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Belles showed midseason form in a preseason match Sunday – dominating Anderson 4-0 in a scrimmage at Saint Mary’s.

Sisters Ashley and Lauren Hinton hooked up twice for scores in the final of three 30-minute periods played in the exhibition match. Ashley, a senior captain and midfielder, snuck two long passes through the Raven defense that gave sophomore forward Lauren a chance to finish. Ashley had another assist on the team’s fourth goal scored by fellow senior captain Colleen Courtney.

The scoring kicked off in the second period when freshman Michelle Hedinger buried one of the nine shots the team peppered the Anderson goal with in the second period.

In total, the Belles registered 27 shots in the game while holding the Ravens to only five.

“I think we are headed in the right direction but still have work to do,” senior goalkeeper Nicole Leach said. “We should have plenty of time to get ready and perform well in our conference.”

St. Mary’s opens its season Sept. 6 against Albion, but has almost a full month remaining before beginning conference play at home against Alma College on Sept. 26.

After finishing third in the MIAA standings last season, the team intends to challenge league powerhouses Hope and Calvin for the championship in 2006.

“I think our biggest asset this year is our team versatility,” Leach said. “We picked up a good number of freshmen who are able to play in multiple positions.”

The Belles welcome nine freshmen this season, nearly half of their 20-player roster. Hedinger and several others have already played as head coach Caryn MacKenzie said the newcomers are sure to make a serious contribution in 2006.

With six seniors, Saint Mary’s is also strong on leadership. Leach credits MacKenzie, now in her third season, with keeping the senior class together.

“Coach Mackenzie has really focused the team on becoming one unit on and off the field,” Leach said. “She also provides a consistency in the program that the soccer team has never had.”

MacKenzie’s consistency also extends to her coaching staff.

She and assistant coach Ramzi Bualuan have coached together at various jobs since the early 90s.

The MIAA recognized the coach’s accomplishments last year by naming her conference co-coach of the year. The Belles have steadily improved since her arrival in 2004, going 9-6-1 in the MIAA her first year and 10-5-1 in conference last season.