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SMC Soccer

Saint Mary’s struggles to overcome inexperience

| Friday, May 19, 2017

The Belles faced various obstacles throughout their season including limited time for preparation, an inexperienced squad and a competitive conference, however, they are looking forward to rebounding from a tough year in which they won only one game.

Saint Mary's freshman forward Shayleigh O'Donnell battles for the ball during the Belles' 4-1 win over Manchester on Sept. 2.Kelly Vaughan | The Observer

Saint Mary’s freshman forward Shayleigh O’Donnell battles for the ball during the Belles’ 4-1 win over Manchester on Sept. 2.

Belles’ first year head coach Jesse Urquhart said he believes the coaching staff will be the key in turning the tide next season for his Saint Mary’s squad (1-17, 0-15 MIAA).

“Our ability to put a more cohesive and competitive team on the pitch next season starts with me,” Urquhart said. “My staff and I have spent countless hours planning sessions that will benefit our players, both individually and as a team. We do everything we can, in the scope of DIII athletics, to provide our players with as much as we can. We’ve seen players grow on and off the pitch. For the majority of our first-year players, there was a big adjustment from high school to college. A realization that to be successful, priorities of the individual have to align with the team and program.”

Urquhart noted that his players have learned what it takes to truly be a successful unit in such a competitive conference.

“Physically and mentally, there is a commitment to more than just showing up to training and matches,” Urquhart said. “For some, this was apparent early in the season while for others it took a bit longer. At the end of the season, reality set in for the group and a lot of players have a busy summer ahead of them. In the longer run, the players and program will be better off for it, however, we are still left knowing we had a 1-17 season and if that doesn’t motivate a player to aspire to a new level of commitment, not much else will.”

Yet, with all of these obstacles in mind, Urquhart is excited for the 2017-2018 season.

“ … As a team, we will focus on out technical and tactical development in preparation for the 2017-2018 season,” Urquhart said. “We are excited to get the 2017-2018 season underway. I’m looking forward to seeing the returners in preseason who have redirected their efforts and commitment to the program. I’m also extremely excited for our 2017 class of freshmen. Although we will be a very young team, I have the utmost confidence that the returners and incoming players will balance out our roster, technical levels and tactical knowledge.”

The squad will be losing three seniors in midfielder Kate Vasile, forward Liza Felix and defender Emily Rompola. Urquhart said each of the seniors and their leadership will be missed.

“Kate’s tireless work ethic and versatility on the pitch was evident was a pleasure to watch,” Urquhart said. “On and off the pitch, that same work ethic and versatility will be at the forefront of her future success. … Liza’s passion for soccer is hard to duplicate. She played every match like it was her last, even on days when she was physically limited. The passion and perseverance Liza applies to everyday life is admired and will be missed. .

.. Emily was a defensive stalwart for the Belles soccer program.  A player of her defensive eminence and technical ability is hard to find.”

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