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SMC Soccer: Belles begin conference play in Kalamazoo

By A.J. Godeaux | Thursday, September 12, 2013

Saint Mary’s kicks off its MIAA conference season Thursday when it travels to Kalamazoo College to take on the Hornets.
Since a season-opening 4-1 loss to Ohio Northern, Kalamazoo (2-1,1-0 MIAA) has rattled off back-to-back shutouts, the second a 1-0 victory in the conference opener against Trine. The Belles (2-2, 0-0 MIAA) are coming off a shutout win of their own, a 3-0 victory Sunday at the College of Mt. St. Joseph. However, the Belles found themselves on the wrong end of a shutout the previous day against Wilmington. The Belles did not play well in the loss, senior midfielder and captain Mollie Valencia said.
“We didn’t possess the ball well at all against Wilmington,” Valencia said. “If we want to win against Kalamazoo, that’s definitely something we’ll have to do better.”
One notable bright spot for the Belles going into their matchup with the Hornets has been their play on the offensive end, particularly junior forward Kelly Wilson and freshman forward Rosie Biehl. Wilson earned recognition as the MIAA offensive player of the week last week after scoring a goal against both Illinois Tech and Mt. St. Joseph. Biehl leads the Belles in shots on goal and is coming off a two-goal performance against Mt. St. Joseph.
In order to come away with the win Thursday, the Belles will have to outscore the Hornets’ biggest scoring threats. Senior defender Jordan Meeth has been a viable scoring threat from the back for the Hornets, having already tallied two goals and an assist on the year. Freshman midfielder Elizabeth Clevenger has only scored once on the year, but has proven to be a disruptive force, leading the team with 10 shots. It will be up to the experienced defense of the Belles, led by 2012 All-MIAA performers juniors Mary Kate Hussey and Kerry Green, to limit Meeth and Clevenger’s chances.
“Kalamazoo is really quick,” Valencia said. “They’re great at stringing passes together to create chances, and against Trine [Saint Mary’s head coach Michael Joyce] said they looked very sharp. The easiest way to go against that is, again, controlling possession, and that starts at the back.”
With the Belle’s MIAA season getting underway tonight, Valencia said the team’s focus is still on developing team chemistry.
“We’re trying to grow as a team still,” Valencia said. “We’re developing that chemistry, and trying to get that camaraderie we’ve developed off the field to translate to success on it.”
The Belles and Hornets take the field Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Mackenzie Field.
Contact A.J. Godeaux at agodeaux@nd.edu