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SMC Soccer: Team fights Calvin to scoreless draw at home

Chris Doyen | Thursday, September 13, 2007

Despite losing four major contributors to injury and illness, Saint Mary’s played 2006 MIAA champion Calvin to a 0-0 tie Wednesday. The Belles’ record moves to 3-1-1, and the Knights are now 2-3-1.Both teams struggled to find chances throughout the game as the defensive units occasionally bent but never broke. Calvin out-shot Saint Mary’s 14-1, but the number of quality scoring opportunities was similar – and small – for both teams. Belles coach Caryn MacKenzie sang the praises of her defense.”We did a really good job of getting in front of shots in the back,” MacKenzie said. “And [senior goalkeeper] Amy Mahoney made some great saves.” Mahoney was solid all day and was challenged repeatedly in the second half. Calvin attackers blasted a couple of shots directly toward the top corners of the net, but Mahoney moved from post to post to maintain the shutout. She made five saves in her third shutout of the season.With two of her starting forwards out, MacKenzie moved senior defender Justine Higgins into an attacking role. Higgins and freshman Corissa Hart kept constant pressure on the Calvin defense, making it difficult for them to get an offensive rhythm started from the back.In the first half, Calvin dominated possession in the middle third of the field. Quick and decisive one-touch passing allowed the Knights to work the ball down into the attack area, but the Saint Mary’s defense was stout, allowing few direct shots to reach Mahoney. The Calvin midfielders, led by junior Michelle Koele, were relentless in bringing down 50/50 balls and challenging any touches Saint Mary’s had in the middle of the field. But the dominance in the middle third never translated into goals for Calvin, and its advantage disappeared after halftime. The Belles came out of the break swinging, with the midfield and offensive units successfully advancing the ball down the field.While the Belles recorded only one shot, Hart and Higgins made life difficult for the Calvin defense. Both players broke through with the ball on multiple occasions, forcing Calvin defenders to scramble to make a stop.Overall, MacKenzie was satisfied with the Belles’ performance.”I could not be more pleased with the result,” MacKenzie said. “We’re feeling pretty good about the effort. It was definitely a moral victory for us, and we like our chances in the conference with healthy bodies.”The Belles will be back in action this weekend in the North Central tournament in Naperville, Ill.