-

The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

-

archive

SMC Soccer: Young team kicks off home opener

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Saint Mary’s takes the field against Albion College this afternoon in the season opener – and in addition to battling the Britons, the Belles must overcome inexperience.

Nine Saint Mary’s freshmen will get their first taste of college soccer as the Belles look to build on last year’s 11-7-1 record. The Class of 2010 will get an early chance to contribute after losing three starters from last year’s squad.

“I think we will do very well,” sophomore forward Lauren Hinton said. “We have a lot of freshmen capable of stepping up where we need them the most.”

Hinton knows the impact a rookie can have. In her debut last fall, she led the team with 14 goals and also added two assists. The quick striker once again got off to a good start this season, scoring twice in the Belles’ only scrimmage – a 4-0 win over Anderson College Aug. 26.

Both of her goals were assisted by older sister and senior captain Ashley Hinton. The midfielder had four assists in 2005 to go along with her four goals and a team-leading 75 shots. She received first team all-conference honors at the end of the year and is expected to make a key contribution again this season.

The Belles will also look for senior leadership out of goalkeeper Laura Heline and co-captain Colleen Courtney. Courtney split time between forward and midfield in her 16 starts last season and finished the year with two goals. Heline was a workhorse for the Belles, starting all 19 games and coming up with 124 saves on the year for a 1.35 goals against average.

Heline will need to be on her toes against a powerful Albion offense this afternoon. The Britons have put up eight goals in their first two games, including a 6-0 rout of Benedictine College on Aug. 31. The explosive attack has already seen six different goal scorers with seniors Kristyn Darmafall and Danielle Shepard leading the way with two apiece.

The Britons weak spot may be in their defense, spearheaded by freshman goalie Emily Heddon. The inexperienced Heddon has looked strong so far, but has yet to face consistent offensive pressure in the Britons’ early season schedule.

The Belles will look to capitalize by using the whole field against the Albion defense and moving the ball frequently, Courtney said.

“It’s important to play on both sides, whether it be taking the ball up the flank and crossing, or switching it up in the midfield,” she said.

Hinton said the team has been too busy focusing on its own play to spend much time preparing specifically for the Britons.

“Since half of our team is new, all we have been working on is our own game and trying to figure out who will play where,” she said.

Kickoff is 4 p.m. today at the SMC Soccer Field.