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SMC Soccer: New coach brings new attitude to Saint Mary’s

Joe Wirth | Friday, May 20, 2011

Mike Joyce faced a daunting task in his first year as the Belles’ coach.

After losing nine seniors from the 2009 squad, the cupboard seemed bare. While the Belles did struggle during the season, Joyce developed young talent despite a tough schedule and has the team primed and confident for a solid 2011 season.

Sophomore Maddie Meckes said although the team did not register a large number of wins, the players never lacked heart.

“This season was very much a rebuilding year for us because we lost nine seniors, and we had to integrate several freshmen into our starting lineup,” Meckes said. “As in any rebuilding year, we had a lot of ups and downs.

“One of our biggest strengths is our tenacity. We always work hard until the very end of the game, so we usually end up having a much better second half.”

One of the bright sports for Saint Mary’s (3-16, 1-7 MIAA) was the emergence of freshman Mollie Valencia, who, along with junior Katelyn Tondo-Steele, led the Belles with eight points on the season and was named to the all-MIAA second team.

Meckes added that she thought one of the tougher things about playing on a young team was getting off to a fast start in games.

“I think our biggest weakness was playing consistently for an entire match,” she said. “In many of our games, we started off a little slow, and ended up down by a few goals in the first half, leaving us with little hope for the second half.”

Although the Belles will have another challenging schedule next year, they hope to mature as a team and make a run at the MIAA title in 2011.

“Our outlook for next season is very promising,” Valencia said. “We have many top quality recruits coming in, but at the same time 10 starters [are] returning. I think we are all looking forward to next season and hopefully have a good showing in our conference and [making] it into the playoffs.”