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SMC Soccer: Belles face Titans on home field

Bobby Graham | Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Saint Mary’s heads into today’s match against No. 15 Illinois Wesleyan with a 0-3 record.

In each of this season’s three games, the Belles have started off strong but failed to follow through in the second half. In the team’s opening game of the UW-Oshkosh Women’s Soccer Invitational against Carthage Saturday, the Belles battled through a back-and-forth first half to go into the break scoreless on both sides. The second period was a different story as Carthage went on a three goal scoring stretch.

The Belles gave a similar performance Sunday against the host Titans. After going into the half at 1-1, Saint Mary’s gave up three more goals and only scored once to end defeated 4-2.

“We’re disappointed we didn’t keep the scores a little closer over the weekend,” Belles coach Michael Joyce said. “We are still giving up some soft goals, ones I think we can avoid.”

The Belles will face a challenging opponent in Illinois Wesleyan today. Reversing the trend they’ve shown early in the season will be difficult against the 3-0 Titans, whose program has repeatedly been ranked in the top-25 in recent years.

But Joyce said he thinks the team is close to where it needs to be.

“We’ve had some great scoring opportunities,” Joyce said. “Our possession and attitude on the field has greatly improved.” 

Despite solid play from junior goalie Kristen Nelson, a new addition to the team this season, the Belles must also shore up a defense that has given up a conference-high eleven goals, he said Joyce said he has a more developed game plan in place though it has yet to be tested in a game.

“We’ll look to limit our mistakes, especially in the back,” he said, “If we can keep the score-line close we’ll give ourselves a shot at the win.”

Saint Mary’s will continue to look to Nelson in goal and veteran players sophomore Ashley Morfin and senior Corissa Hart to help along a talented group of freshmen. Defender Anna Stollhans and midfielder Ellie Jacques are two such players. Each has had strong performances so far this year and will be looked at to step up even more if the Belles are to advance in the MIAA, which Joyce feels they are in position to do.

“I have a lot of confidence in the players who’ve had the bulk of the minutes so far,” Joyce said. “They just need time to grow and develop.”

The Belles will face the No. 15 Titans at 5 p.m. today at Saint Mary’s.