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Sal Vaccaro Invite kicks off this weekend

Dan Murphy | Friday, September 15, 2006

Saint Mary’s will play two games this weekend at the annual Sal Vaccaro Tournament hosted by North Central College in Naperville, Ill. The Belles will play Saturday against Mount Mercy College and again on Sunday against the hosting Cardinals.

Saint Mary’s enters the tournament still in search of the season’s first win. The team dropped their first two games to Albion and Manchester in very similar fashion. Both games were close 2-1 losses as Lauren Hinton provided the lone goal in both contests.

Against Manchester, she scored with two minutes remaining in the first half to take the lead, but the young defense could not hold the lead and the Spartans were able to score on two of nine second half shots.

“We are still trying to get used to each other and I feel that we don’t have the right connection yet. Once we figure that out, we will be able to score,” senior forward Colleen Courtney said.

Courtney, one of three captains, finsihed last year with two goals and two assists.

The Belles first opponent, the Mount Mercy Mustangs, have had an offensive explosion since ending their first game of the season in a 0-0 tie. The Mustangs have put up 16 goals while going 2-2 in the past four games. Last Saturday, the potent scorers struck eight times in a dominant win over Alverno College.

Senior forward Keri Ludwig had a hat trick in the game while sophomore Kateri Bose led the team in points with assists on all three of Ludwig’s goals as well as two of her own. Bose is only one goal and one assist away from matching her production for her freshman season. The experience Mustang offense could cause problems for the Saint Mary’s young defenders.

“We will have to play with a lot of intensity and win as many 50/50 balls as possible,” Courtney said.

The Mustangs will start off the tournament facing North Central College (1-3) Friday at 5:00 p.m. North Central comes into the tournament with a full head of steam having won their first game in overtime last Saturday.

Junior Michelle Daly scored on a penalty kick in the 94th minute to beat Marantha Baptist College 2-1. Daly, who also scored earlier in the game, was named College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Player of the Week for her effort. Daly had eleven goals for the Cardinals last year.

“I think [a win] would be extremely helpful to get us out of a losing mode especially with a big game coming up on Tuesday,” Courtney said.

The Belles will take on defending MIAA champion Calvin next week. The game will not count towards the team’s conference record, but a victory over a conference foe would be a huge step in building the young team’s confidence.