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Returning players will lead Belles this fall

Heather VanHoegarden | Thursday, August 19, 2004

Their starting defense is returning, they have a new coach and they lost just three seniors. In Jen Concannon’s opinion there is no reason this team shouldn’t compete for the MIAA title.”This year, we’re looking at top one or two in conference,” the senior said. “We’re just that much better. We should have done it last year.” Last season, the Belles finished fourth in conference with a 10-5-4 record overall and a 6-4-4 record in MIAA play. Concannon led the team in 11 goals and seven assists. She was named first team all-MIAA, along with junior Carrie Orr. This duo will be joined by senior Katie Taylor on defense, who was named second team all-MIAA last year, and Carolyn Logan who was named to the second team. Logan recorded nine goals as a freshman.The 2004 Belles will also be under new leadership. Caryn Mackenzie enters her first year at Saint Mary’s after coaching girls soccer at John Adams High School in South Bend since 1993. She brings her long-time assistant Ramzi Bualuan, who is also the director of undergraduate studies in computer science and engineering at Notre Dame. “I couldn’t be more jammed about coaching these women,” Mackenzie said. “We’re cautiously optimistic.”Mackenzie coached against Concannon when she played at Marian High School in South Bend.”It’s weird, but I like it,” Concannon said of playing for, instead of against, Mackenzie. “I’ve always thought she’s done great things with her teams. I respect Caryn a lot.”Concannon said her team is excited to play under Mackenzie, who was coached at Notre Dame soccer camps as well. They started working with her in the spring, and the first day of fall practice was Wednesday.”We have a very talented group of upperclassmen,” Mackenzie said. “I look forward to their influence on the underclassmen.”Mackenzie said there is not a finalized roster, so it is unclear which freshmen, if any, will make an impact. The coach is looking forward to meshing the girls into a team.”We want to have a good team morale,” Concannon said. “Caryn will point us in the right direction, but it’s a team effort to go out and do it.”The Belles open their season Sept. 7 at home with the University of St. Francis. Concannon said the late-starting season should prove advantageous.”We have plenty of time to get in shape,” she said. “As far as it goes for me, it’s great,” Mackenzie said. “I get a better handle on the talent.”Concannon hopes to guide this experienced Belles team, as she is a co-captain, along with fellow seniors Jen Herdman and Katie Taylor.”We’re really excited,” Concannon said. “We have the chance to be something very good.”