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SMC Soccer: Belles to match up against Manchester

Katie Heit | Tuesday, September 6, 2011

After clenching the team’s first tournament title since 2008 in the Defiance Classic, the Belles look to maintain their winning ways as they host Manchester Tuesday.

The last time these two squads matched up, Saint Mary’s fell to the Spartans 2-0 in a game that could have gone either way, Belles head coach Michael Joyce said.

“It was a close game, but the score went to wrong way for us,” Joyce said. “We’re looking for another tight game.”

Though the Belles have performed well so far this season, they know they have a long way to go until they are primed for conference play.

“We’ve got to work on some of our defensive rotations against different formations we’ll see,” Joyce said. “We’ll also have to improve our attacking in the last third of the field.”

The Belles’ first two games, a pair of commanding 4-0 victories over Defiance and Thiel, demonstrated the seamless incorporation of new players into their lineup. Junior midfielder Kari McClowry named just a few improvements she wants to see from her team.

“We need to make sure our passes always connect, communicate effectively and be confident when we attack,” McClowry said.

In addition to continuing the team’s two-game winning streak, Joyce is looking to this game to help determine his starters for when conference play begins.

“We’ve got a lot of freshmen hungry for starting spots and playing time,” Joyce said. “They have no problem getting motivated to play, so that makes my job easy.”

Freshman defender Mary Kate Hussey said she is not fazed by the threat of the Spartans and is eager to showcase her talents.

“I keep an open mind about every matchup and know that each team is different,” Hussey said. “I expect every team we play to be good so I’m always prepared.”

Joyce wants his players to use these early games to develop their chemistry and perfect the details of their play.

“We’re less concerned about who the opponent is and what they do on the field [this week],” Joyce said. “Once we get into the conference games, you game plan a little more for particular opponents.”

The Belles will take on the Spartans Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Saint Mary’s soccer fields.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu