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SMC Soccer: Sal Vaccaro awaits Belles

Chris Doyen | Friday, September 14, 2007

Saint Mary’s heads to North Central College in Naperville, Ill., to play in the Sal Vaccaro tournament Saturday for its final tune-up before beginning its conference schedule.

The Belles, who have compiled a record of 3-1-1, will square off against Mount Mercy (3-2-0) at 11 a.m. and then against North Central (2-2-0) at 12 p.m. Sunday.

Mount Mercy, which competes in the NAIA Midwest Classic Conference, finished last season with a record of 6-8-4 and placed sixth in its conference standings. North Central finished 7-11 overall and finished last in the competitive College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.

In the 2006 Sal Vaccaro tournament, Saint Mary’s lost the tournament-deciding game to North Central in overtime 2-1. The Belles had defeated Mount Mercy 4-1 in their first tournament game.

Saint Mary’s will look to avenge that overtime lost with a depleted roster, but if Wednesday’s 0-0 tie with Calvin is any indication, there will be plenty of Belles with varying levels of experience ready to step up and fill those spots.

Senior defender Justine Higgins may be called on again to fill in for Saint Mary’s missing forwards – one of whom is injured and another who is sick. She performed well with freshman Corissa Hart on Wednesday, so the two of them could cause trouble for opposing defenses this weekend.

These two contests are also the final non-conference games for the Belles. The MIAA season begins one week from Saturday against Kalamazoo, and these tournament games are the last chances for Saint Mary’s to improve before starting play in the MIAA.

If there are any in-game kinks that need to be worked out, these two games provide excellent opportunities to do just that. Once the conference season opens, it runs straight through the next seven games on the schedule.

With only non-conference game left on the schedule in late October, the Sal Vaccaro Tournament marks the conclusion of a promising pre-season and may lead the Belles into a potentially successful MIAA season.