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SMC Soccer: Belles ready to start conference postseason

Dan Murphy | Friday, October 27, 2006

The first MIAA postseason tournament kicks off this Saturday with four first-round matchups, one of which includes Saint Mary’s.

The Belles finished in fourth place and drew a home game against Kalamazoo that will be played at noon.

The fifth-seeded Hornets finished the year at 3-3-2 in conference play – two points behind the Belles.

The two teams met Sept. 30 on a cold, rainy afternoon. Saint Mary’s managed to scratch out a 2-1 win, despite not scoring an offensive goal. The Hornets put two balls into their own net, one in each half, allowing the Belles to squeak by and collect their second conference win of the year.

“We have a really good chance to win,” senior Colleen Courtney said. “They are a good team and it is going to be an evenly fought game.”

Freshman Paige Howell scored Kalamazoo’s goal less than eight minutes into the game to even the score at 1-1, but the Hornets offense was unable to get anything else going for the remainder of the game.

Seven different Kalamazoo players contributed to the team’s nine conference goals for a very balanced offensive attack. Leading the way for all games on the season was sophomore Kelly Lepper (nine goals, nine assists). Lepper was named MIAA offensive player of the week twice this season.

Goalkeeper Kassandra Johnston was also given MIAA honors the week of Oct. 5 for her work between the posts. The freshman made 14 saves in a 0-0 double-overtime game with Olivet, and followed it up with another shut out two days later as the Hornets took down Franklin College 5-0.

“We have been working of finishing a lot in practice so hopefully that will carry over into the game,” Courtney said.

Johnston finished the season with seven shutouts and a goals-against average of 1.20.

Saint Mary’s will need to put plenty of shots on net in order to have a chance of advancing to the second round. The Belles managed to get off a season-high 41 shots in the final regular season game with Tri-State Wednesday.

Sophomore forward Lauren Hinton led the way with seven shots, one of which found the back of the net. Senior captains Ashley Hinton and Courtney also looked on top of their games in the season finale with a goal each.

“Every game counts now so I just have to play my best and hope it is enough to come away with a win,” Courtney said.