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SMC Soccer: Belles look to pick up first win

Robert Graham | Friday, September 10, 2010

Despite a 0-4 record to begin the season, Saint Mary’s soccer coach Michael Joyce sees a silver lining to the Belles’ early troubles.

“We have about as ambitious a schedule as anyone out there,” he said. “While we end up with a number of losses, it does force us to raise our level of play.”

The Belles will need to be ready to raise that level as soon as today, however, as they venture to Otterbein University for a weekend tournament. Saint Mary’s will face off against the No. 7 host Cardinals this afternoon before finishing up with Ohio Northern University Saturday.

The weekend will certainly be challenging, as both teams qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament last year.

Regardless of the difficulty of this weekend’s matchups, Joyce said he has an unshakable faith in his team’s ability to continue to work hard and compete.

“We can knock the ball around with anyone we face,” he said. “Sometimes against a good team you end up playing defense the whole game and are lucky to get past midfield, but with everyone we’ve faced we’re able to create good scoring chances.”

While Joyce would admit that his team has had a few unlucky breaks this year, he said he believes the key to the team’s success is to stay the course and, above all, focus.

“We’re positive about of performances,” he said. “Our biggest challenge is keeping our head in the game for 90 minutes”.

An inopportune lapse of focus, even if only for a few minutes, is enough to derail Saint Mary’s efforts as the season rolls on. The Belles fell victim to such a mistake once before and paid the price

“I thought we had a 10-minute spell against Illinois Wesleyan where we let down and it cost us two goals,” Joyce said. “Without that let down and a few mistakes, it could’ve been a very close game.”

The Belles will look to internalize their coach’s words as they take the field against two very formidable opponents this weekend. Saint Mary’s takes on Otterbein today at 2 p.m. and concludes the weekend against Ohio Northern tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.