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SMC Soccer: Saint Mary’s loses conference match, drops to 6-3

Vicky Jacobsen | Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Belles were just moments from forcing overtime against a tough Calvin squad when a redirected shot dribbled into the goal, handing Saint Mary’s a demoralizing 2-1 defeat.

“The second goal came with 11 seconds left, so it was a bit of a heartbreaker,” Belles assistant coach Randy Rompola said. “The ball just kind of slotted through after a throw-in and was able to find the back of the net.”

The last-minute goal was the second of the game for Calvin junior midfielder Francesca Smith, who also scored two goals Saturday when the Knights (4-5, 4-1 MIAA) shut out Olivet. Her first goal came in the 49th minute on a redirection from outside the six-yard box. Sophomores Paige Rindels and Laura Van Engen each earned an assist on the play.

The win put the Knights in a tie for second place in the MIAA standings.

Saint Mary’s (6-3, 2-3) tied up the match less than five minutes later when Belles sophomore defender Kerry Puckett gained possession of the ball and sent it up field to senior defender Michelle Marshall, who sent the pass sailing into the net.

“We were able to get a number of players forward and put a lot of pressure on them,” Rompola said. “Then we were able to drop the ball back and finish it.”

Although Marshall’s goal tied the game, coaches said it was freshman goalkeeper Chanler Rosenbaum who gained their attention. Rosenbaum made seven saves in the first half and four in the second, keeping the game tight even as Calvin outshot Saint Mary’s 26-11.

“In the first half, our keeper, Chanler Rosenbaum, made a number of fantastic saves,” Rompola said. “She kept us in the match early on.”

Rompola filled in for Belles coach Michael Joyce, who was spending time with his family after his wife gave birth Tuesday. Although disappointed by the loss, Rompola acknowledged that the Belles’ strong showing against the Knights was a sign of progress.

“They’re strong, they’re a strong team,” he said of Calvin. “We played well against them. It was a good effort by the team and it’s a measure of where we want to be.”

Despite his optimistic take on the Belles’ narrow loss, Rompola identified some aspects of the team’s play he would like to see improved in time for the next game.

“We just need to keep being able to get the ball forward and find more opportunities to get shots on goal,” Rompola said. “In the second half we were able to get better possession, but we just didn’t find quite as many opportunities as we would have liked to have seen to put the ball in the back of the net.”

The Belles will look to rebound when they take on Kalamazoo at home Saturday at noon.