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SMC Soccer: Sisters lead Belles to success

Dan Murphy | Thursday, October 12, 2006

For senior midfielder Ashley Hinton, soccer is a family affair.On the field, she is constantly supported by her sister, sophomore forward Lauren Hinton. In the stands at every home game, the rest of the Hinton family is always within earshot – a short drive from Grand Rapids, Mich.”Saint Mary’s has been a great fit because we know our family could be at most of our games,” Lauren Hinton said. “After all, who wants to score a goal and not have your family there to enjoy it with you?”The Hintons have had plenty of moments to enjoy together – the two sisters have combined for 30 goals since the beginning of the 2005 season.In their first 10 games this year, the Belles have netted 15 goals – all of them scored or assisted by the Hintons. The pair has also taken more than 50 percent of the team’s shots so far this season.Most of their success can be contributed to the unselfish play of captain Ashley. The four-year starter began her career with six goals in her freshman season. In her sophomore year, Hinton broke out with 12 goals in 19 games to give her the second most in Saint Mary’s history. But at the beginning of her junior year, Hinton moved from forward to midfield and allowed her younger sister to step into the limelight. Ashley became an assist machine for the Belles, and Lauren took over the scoring role, burying 14 goals in her rookie season.”Lauren thrives on the fact that Ashley knows how to find her,” coach Caryn MacKenzie said. “The fact that they know each other so well makes for some pretty amazing combinations.”As a senior, Ashley Hinton has stepped up her leadership qualities and made a strong captain leading by example. Teammates say her generally reserved manner keeps her from becoming a vocal leader, but she more than makes up for it with her play on the field.”Being a captain has helped me realize that I need to set an example for my teammates to follow, and in return I have set the standards higher for myself,” Hinton said. She has gotten off to a very strong start this year with 10 points in conference play, leading the MIAA in that category as well as assists. Her consistent ability to put points on the board has allowed the Belles to start 3-1 in the conference, good enough for second place. “As Ashley goes, we go as a team,” MacKenzie said. “When she is motivated our team seems to fall in line with her quite a bit.” Saint Mary’s will continue to look to Ashley Hinton for guidance and support as it enters the toughest part of their schedules. The team will take on Hope and Adrian before facing off against undefeated Calvin in the near future.