Belles start five game road trip in Kalamazoo
Dan Murphy | Thursday, September 28, 2006
Saint Mary’s will start a long road trip this weekend when it travels to Kalamazoo for its second conference game of the year. The Belles will play a stretch of five away games before returning to their home field Oct. 21.
The team is 1-3 on the road so far this season with its only win coming in a 3-1 victory of Mount Mercy during the Sal Vaccaro Invitational Sept. 16.
Saint Mary’s comes into the contest with a full head of steam after winning its first conference game against Alma Tuesday afternoon. Sophomore Lauren Hinton scored twice and freshman Colleen Ferguson added a third goal to beat the Scots 3-0 at home.
“We have been working very hard to find ourselves as a team, and Tuesday night I think we clicked,” senior goalkeeper Laura Heline said. “I am sure we will bring the same intensity to Kalamazoo.”
Kalamazoo (5-3) has been tough on its home turf all season long. The Hornets have hosted five teams and came away with wins in all but one contest. The team’s one loss came in a 2-1 overtime game against Manchester College.
The Hornets have split two conference games in the past week against Calvin, a 3-0 loss, and a 1-0 win over Tri-State. Sophomore Kelly Lepper scored the lone goal for Kalamazoo in the 76th minute.
Lepper – who had three goals and an assist against Rochester earlier that week – was named the MIAA Offensive Player of the Week for the first time in her career. Her six goals and three assists are both team highs.
“To shut down [Kalamazoo’s] scorers we will need to continue to play solid in the back,” Heline said. “Our defense has done a good job of staying organized and coverage of key players has also been well done.”
The four-year starter also stressed the importance of putting pressure on the Hornets. As was evident in the Alma game, getting out to a quick lead can go a long way in slowing down an opponent’s attack.
The Belles looked sharp on the offensive side of the ball this week, consistently connecting on passes and pushing the action up the field with authority.
“We created a lot of great chances – it would have been nice to put a few more in but it was good to see the offense coming together,” head coach Caryn MacKenzie said following Tuesday’s win.
On several occasions the Belles were a matter of inches away from turning the game into a blowout. The team will need to capitalize on these opportunities against Hornet goalkeeper Kassandra Johnston, who has been solid between the posts all year with a 1.55 goals against average.