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SMC Soccer: Heline set to protect net again

Dan Murphy | Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saint Mary’s seniors will play their 58th college game this Wednesday afternoon against Manchester College. And for the 57th time in four years, senior Laura Heline will start the game in her familiar spot between the posts.

Heline, who hasn’t missed a start since her freshman year, has been a portrait of consistency for the team since her arrival in 2003.

The South Bend native was named to the MIAA Honorable Mention team all three years of her career. Last year she finished with six shutouts and 142 saves. As a freshman, she allowed fewer goals than the team had games, finishing the year with a .95 goals against average.

“Laura has definitely been a mainstay in the back for the past three seasons,” Belles coach Caryn Mackenzie said.

Mackenzie took the Saint Mary’s job at the start of Heline’s sophomore year and has never coached a game without the sturdy keeper in net.

Prior to coming to Saint Mary’s, Mackenzie coached at Riley High School in South Bend – the same school Heline attended. Although she never played under Mackenzie, the pair knew of one another and developed a good relationship almost immediately.

Heline’s work ethic and her dedication make it easy for any coach to enjoy having her on their team. The senior routinely stays after practice for extra shots and works especially hard on days before the team has a big game.

“[Heline] is a good example for the underclassmen as well as the upperclassmen on the team,” fellow senior goalkeeper Nicole Leach said.

That reputation is why Heline was named one of the team’s three captains for her senior season. She has always been a gifted athlete, but Mackenzie feels the real growth of her goalie has come in her leadership skills.

“She has always been confident, but not always enough to make her presence known to her teammates,” Mackenzie said. “She has really embraced the role this year.”

Though it is never easy to sit behind the starter for four years, Leach said the competition between her and Heline was good for the team.

“I think over the last four years Laura and I have helped each other improve,” Leach said. “When we push each other at training I think it shows in the game.”

Heline has also become increasingly more comfortable with her feet since arriving at Saint Mary’s. Her aggressive style of play is very helpful to the Belles zone defense, and Mackenzie considers her an extra defender in the backfield.

Heline is one of the few veterans on this year’s club and will need to continue to help Saint Mary’s improve this season.

The Belles dropped their opener 2-0 to Albion College last Wednesday. They will look to get back on top against Manchester before the North Central College tournament this weekend.