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Belles hope to bounce back after disappointing 2008 campaign

Kate Grabarek | Saturday, August 22, 2009

After a difficult 2008 campaign that ended with a 2-13-1 overall record, the Belles are looking to continue to move forward.

“Now I have a better understanding of our players and what I feel are their strengths and weaknesses,” Belles coach Ryan Crabbe said. “In addition, we had a very good four weeks of training in the spring which allowed us to continue to improve and stay focused on Saint Mary’s soccer. I also feel the players have a better understanding of my expectations. While we struggled in 2008 to win close games, I feel in 2009 we are all more highly motivated to turn those results around.”

The team is returning 17 players in 2009, many of whom saw playing time during the 2008 season.

Crabbe would like to see the team finish their games better. In 2008 the team lost eight games by one goal and Crabbe is hoping this will provide increased motivation for the players and get them to take more responsibility when scoring goals.

The team will be led by senior co-captain Bridget Ronayne, who has been a mainstay on a tough defense for the Belles.

“Bridget is a very mature player on the field,” Crabbe said. “She is a good leader and her teammates respect her. Her success playing in the back for us comes from her ability to read the game and make good decisions under pressure. She is very good at minimizing mistakes which is key as a defender.”

The Belles will count on Ronayne and other veterans to lead a freshman class that is coming in from all over the country.

“We have players coming from Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri and Indiana,” Crabbe said. “We look to have between eight and 10 freshmen competing for spots on this year’s roster.”

Senior Patty Duffy will also be a force for the Belles as the goalkeeper this season. Duffy registered 81 saves in 15 appearances last season for the Belles.

“Duffy has a tremendous competitive spirit,” Crabbe said. “She has spent many extra hours on her own in order to get better at her position. Having a full season in 2008 and the number of minutes she played should translate into an advantage for her coming into the 2009 season that she did not have last year.”

The Belles will open the season with a tough road trip when they play Centre and Transylvania Colleges on Sept. 5 and 6 at Centre College’s Tournament.