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Belles defeat Hope, move into tie for first

Ryan Duffy | Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Belles entered their game Wednesday with a different goal than usual – revenge.Four days after being upset by Olivet College on the road, Saint Mary’s displayed a new level of fire and determination Wednesday defeating Hope College, 2-0, to retake first place in the MIAA.”We had a horrible upset on Saturday, and so we took out our anger on Hope,” forward Cat MacMillan said. “We had our egos hurt against Olivet, and it was just unfortunate for Hope that they were the next team we played. We could have been playing the national team, and we would have still fought to the death.”Hope entered the game in first place in the conference and having beaten the Belles in their last two encounters. But Saint Mary’s controlled the tempo of the game for the entire match.”Our team was great; we took the ball and their dignity,” MacMillan said. “We were expecting a game, but we knew we weren’t going to be walked all over. We knew we’d give them a fight.”The Belles got on the board first when senior Emily Wagoner scored 15 minutes before halftime. Saint Mary’s then extended its lead when senior Shannon Artnak fired a goal from outside the box midway through the second half to put her team up 2-0. The Belles’ attack was keyed by a new strategy introduced by coach Caryn Mackenzie specifically for this game.”Hope plays with five midfielders instead of the standard four, so coach added another player in the midfield to accommodate their system of play,” MacMillan said. “Coach did her homework, and it really benefited us a lot. It was unexpected, and Hope was shocked to see us pull a defender for another midfielder.”The loss of a defender might have hurt the Belles’ chances, but their defense was able to compensate for the loss of a player.”I think we definitely owe a lot of credit to our coach; it was the difference between winning and losing today,” MacMillan said. “Pulling a defender to put her in the midfield is a huge risk, but it was a great move. This is the first time we’ve had a coach that takes risks; it shows us she has a lot of confidence in us as players.”The switch from the flat-back four to five midfielders also proved effective in providing more offensive opportunities.”Having one more midfielder than usual definitely helped our offensive movement,” goalie Laura Heline said. “The midfielders did a great job of checking back to the ball, and Carolyn Logan and Colleen Courtney had excellent games up top.””The strategy was something new, but our defense did a good job of keeping its shape and talking to each other so we could limit their shots on goal,” Heline said. “By putting the same number of players in the midfield as Hope, we were able to play our style of soccer and control the game.”The win allowed the Belles to leapfrog in the standings and puts them in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the season in their quest to win the conference.”This was a big win, and a statement to Hope,” Heline said. “We’re tied with Hope and Calvin for first now, and we were able to gain respect and build ourselves back up after Saturday’s loss.”After the demoralizing loss to Olivet, the Belles couldn’t have asked for a much better inspiration for the rest of the season than Wednesday’s win. “This win is huge, because we really needed to win right now,” MacMillan said. “It shows we’re still in it, and we have a lot to prove. It’s going to take a lot more than a team with a reputation to stop us.”