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SMC Soccer: Spartans open road schedule

Dan Murphy | Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It’s back on the road again for Saint Mary’s today as the Belles travel to North Manchester, Ind., to take on the Manchester Spartans.

After starting the season off with a 2-1 loss to Albion Sept. 6, the Belles look to even their record at 1 against the Spartans.

Manchester (2-2) also comes into the contest after a tough loss in its last game. The Spartans lost to Marian in overtime Saturday. Marian forward Casey Williams knocked in a goal two minutes into the extra period to break the scoreless tie.

Saint Mary’s looks to build on the experience gained in last week’s loss as the young team continues to build chemistry and confidence.

“Almost half the team are freshmen so as the season goes on we will continue to improve and work better as one unit,” senior goalkeeper Nicole Leach said.

Both teams carry nine freshmen on their rosters and rely on the younger players to make a big impact in the games.

Manchester freshmen Stacey Jerke and Paige Koomler lead the Spartans in scoring with three goals each. Koomler began her collegiate career with an overtime game-winner in the 99th minute of the Spartans victory over Kalamazoo Sept. 2.

That’s something that doesn’t get past Belles coach Caryn MacKenzie.

“We need to work on staying more organized in the back,” she said. “That is where we have a lot of inexperience and I think we will gain confidence as the year goes on.”

The young defense will have to improve quickly in order to shut down Koomler and Jerke this afternoon.

Sophomore Laura Hinton scored Saint Mary’s lone goal against Albion. The strike came from 10 yards out early in the first half. Hinton also had two goals in a scrimmage against Anderson College Aug. 26.

Senior tri-captain Ashley Hinton assisted all three of Hinton’s goals, along with getting off five shots of her own from the midfield position.

The duo threatened to score several other times in the game but was not able to connect in the second half. Last year the pair combined for 18 goals.

The team will try to step up their offense against Manchester to keep control of the ball and give the young defense a chance to keep the game close.

“I think that just by having played our first game and gaining that experience we will show significant improvement,” Leach said.