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SMC SOCCER: St. Mary’s respects underdog opponent

Kyle Cassily | Friday, September 30, 2005

The Belles are riding high and firing on all cylinders; their opponent can barely field a complete squad. Most teams would walk onto the pitch with nothing but victory on their minds, but not the Belles.

The Tri-State Thunder face off against the Belles at noon Saturday in an epic mismatch. The Thunder have often not been able to put the full 11 players onto the field, while the Belles are fresh off of a 5-0 pasting of Adrian.

“One of the things I really stress with our women when we play teams of [Tri-State’s] caliber is that we respect them,” Belles’ coach Caryn Mackenzie said. “That way we try to play our game, as opposed to coming down to their level.”

The Belles do not fear losing, but they fear they will hurt themselves in the long run if they do not bring their highest caliber game.

“Hopefully we can notch a few early goals and do what we did against Adrian and get a few of our women off of the bench,” Mackenzie said.”

Several Belles non-starters came onto the field in the second half against Adrian and continued to dominate their outmatched opponents. As a unit, the entire team has been a model of cohesive play in the past few weeks.

“We’re doing some good things right know,” Mackenzie said. “I think we’re starting to really enjoy being on the field with each other. I like what I am seeing from us as a team at the moment.”

With Wednesday’s crushing defeat of Adrian, the Belles vaulted into third-place in the MIAA standings with a 4-2 conference record and 5-4 overall. Olivet shifted down into the fourth place spot previously inhabited by Saint Mary’s.

“It was nice to see us finally move,” Mackenzie said. “We beat Olivet head-to-head and they continued to be above us in the standings. So that continued to be a thorn in our sides.”

But despite the annoyance to being held inferior to a team that the Belles had defeated, there is more to their team than just numbers.

“I think we know when we are playing well and when things are working for us,” Mackenzie said. “We’re a team that enjoys that moment and don’t necessarily look for every little … change on the MIAA webpage.”