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SMC Soccer: Conference play opens for Belles

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, September 21, 2007

Saint Mary’s lost its leading scorer, junior Lauren Hinton, to a leg injury. But despite the loss, the Belles still claimed the Sal Vaccaro tournament last weekend.

“We’ve been doing a lot of nice things as a team,” Belles coach Caryn MacKenzie said. “We’ve done a better job of moving the ball around quicker, changing our point of attack, and moving the ball forward.”

Saint Mary’s (4-1-2) will try to keep the momentum going (4-1-2) against conference rival Kalamazoo (4-2-1) Saturday in the Belles first conference match. MacKenzie said the Belles have been working to improve before facing the Hornets.

“We’ve got some things to sort out up front,” MacKenzie said. “Hopefully after a week off they’ll be fired up and ready to be back on the field.”

So far this season, Saint Mary’s has put up an average of 12 shots on goal per game. But Mackenzie said changes will have to be made if Saint Mary’s wants to beat Kalamazoo.

“We’re not converting in front of the goal,” Mackenzie said. “The key is to try to make a statement early. We’re doing good things to get in front of the goal, but not following through. We have to get on the board early, find ways to finish the job and put it in the back of the net.”

Getting a goal early was what helped the Belles beat out the Hornets 2-1 last September. They also had a double overtime tie last October. Saint Mary’s ended the season in fourth place, while Kalamazoo finished fifth.

“We’ve had significant playing time for all players in our non-conference games so far this year,” MacKenzie said. “The coaching staff feels good and confident about putting anyone on the field we need to.”

The Belles strength lies in its backfield – led by goalkeeper Amy Mahoney. Mahoney has made 34 of Saint Mary’s 39 saves this season.

With a well-rested team, MacKenzie said her squad will be ready for the Hornets.

“We are extremely excited to start conference play,” she said.