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SMC Soccer: Belles keep winning streak alive with victory

Katie Heit | Monday, September 12, 2011

Saint Mary’s continued its winning pattern with a 2-0 victory over Franklin on Sunday, keeping its undefeated streak alive.

The Belles (4-0), who are enjoying their best start to the season in recent history, took an early lead against the Grizzlies (3-1). Belles coach Michael Joyce said he was pleased with his squad’s play despite unusual conditions.

“I thought we played well,” Joyce said. “It was challenging because it was artificial turf, but we did fairly well with our possession.”

Saint Mary’s scored off its first corner kick with a goal inside the three-minute mark by sophomore midfielder Mollie Valencia, her first of the season.

Just seven minutes later junior midfielder Maddie Meckes kicked another corner kick to sophomore forward Jordan Diffenderfer, but the Franklin goalie blocked the shot. Senior captain and midfielder Katelyn Tondo-Steele snatched the ball up and found the back of the net for her third goal of the season.

The Belles held onto their lead for the rest of the game, blocking every attempt from the Grizzlies to gain momentum, and putting in strong performances at every position. 

The younger Belles stepped up, with freshman goalie Natalie Warner playing the entire game for Saint Mary’s and gaining her first season win. Warner also blocked a penalty kick during the first half in the process of earning her first collegiate shutout. Joyce said Meckes and sophomore defender Kerry Puckett also had exceptional performances in the contest.

“Kerry attacked well out of the back and Maddie worked tirelessly in the midfield,” he said. “She covered a lot of ground and was a big factor today.”

Joyce said he is happy with his team’s fast start this season, but is well aware of the challenges it will face once conference play begins Wednesday.

“We’re happy with our start,” Joyce said. “But there are some very good teams in our conference, so we try to get a little sharper each time out.”

The Belles will take the field next against Olivet on Wednesday, kicking off conference play at 5 p.m.