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SMC Soccer: Nine new players join Belles

Chris Khorey | Saturday, August 19, 2006

Trying to build on an 11-7-1 record and a third-place MIAA finish a year ago, Saint Mary’s will add at least nine new freshmen to its roster this season.

Saint Mary’s head coach Caryn MacKenzie said that while the roster has not been finalized, the freshmen began practice Thursday. Open tryouts will be held Monday to fill as many remaining slots as Mackenzie sees fit.

“We never know [who we will have on our roster] until we see them on the field,” Mackenzie said. “We won’t know until Monday what our team will look like.”

Mackenzie said that the nine freshmen who started Thursday – Briana Cantu (Austin, Tx.), Katy Durkin (Pontiac, Mich.), Colleen Ferguson (Dunlap, Ill.), Molly Gaffney (Hudson, Ohio), Samantha Goudreau (Lake Forest, Ill.), Michelle Hedinger (Jasper, Ind.), Bridget Romayne (Mundelein, Ill.), Jessica Slean (Allison Park, Penn.) and Katie Wehrli (Fort Wayne, Ind.) – will be slotted into positions once Mackenzie sees them on the practice field.

“I don’t get too wrapped up in positions,” Mackenzie said. “What they do for me may be totally different then what they did for their old coach.”

While the Belles only lost three seniors off last year’s team, Mackenzie said there are plenty of opportunities for the freshmen to see playing time.

“It’s just a matter how talented they are and how quickly they make the transition to the collegiate level,” she said.

Mackenzie needs to replace most of her back wall after losing defenders Carrie Orr, Shannon Culbertson and Maura Schoen to graduation. Orr was a first-team all-MIAA pick last season. Junior Justine Higgins, who started 16 games in 2005, is the lone returning starter in the back. To fill the holes, MacKenzie said she may move midfielders to defense.

“There’s certainly an opportunity for anyone to play there,” she said. “The opportunity is there if you’re willing to make the plays.”

Up front, the Belles return 2005 leading scorer Lauren Hinton, who netted 14 goals in 19 games last season. Her sister, senior Ashley Hinton, also returns after scoring four goals from her starting midfield spot.

At goalie, senior Laura Heline returns after starting all 19 games last season when she posted six shutouts and allowed a little over a goal per game.

Saint Mary’s begins its season Aug. 26 at Anderson.

The Ravens were 7-12 overall last season and 3-4 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.