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SMC Soccer: Belles to face Hope in non-conference match

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fresh off its second consecutive victory in the Sal Vacarro Tournament this past weekend, the Saint Mary’s soccer team opens its home schedule with a non-conference match against Hope College.

Although the match is considered a non-conference match, the Belles are very familiar with Hope, who is also a member of the MIAA. Saint Mary’s always see Hope as a formidable opponent who is always at the top of the conference.

Hope, who enters the match with a 3-3-0 record, ranks third all-time in winning percentage in the MIAA and had at least a share of the conference title for three consecutive seasons from 2003-2005.

The Belles have a lot to build on from their performance in last weekend’s Sal Vacarro Tournament, where they took home their second consecutive title in a shootout victory. However, according to first year coach Ryan Crabbe, the Belles will not rest on their laurels.

“We have an incredibly big challenge ahead of us,” he said, “Hope is a quality program and playing them in a non-conference match will certainly test everything we have worked on up to this point.”

Despite the quality of their opponent, coach Crabbe has high expectations for the match.

“In terms of expectations for tomorrow, I simply want the team to continue improving upon the positive strides we made over the weekend,” Crabbe said. “Roles are becoming more defined on the field and we are getting better organized with each day. I think we can come out and compete and make it a good match.”

The Belles desire for a competitive match will hopefully reverse their fortunes against Hope. Saint Mary’s dropped both of its regular season matches against Hope last season, falling both times by a score of 3-1, and the Flying Dutch eliminated the Belles from the first round of the MIAA tournament in a tightly contested 1-0 match. Dating back to 2006, the Belles have a four-match losing streak against the Flying Dutch.

The match is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Saint Mary’s.