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SMC Soccer: Belles set to face first-place Calvin

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, October 12, 2007

Earlier this season, Saint Mary’s faced defending conference champion Calvin in a non-conference match, tying the Knights 0-0.

Saturday, the Belles (6-2-4. 2-1-2 MIAA) will face the Knights (9-3-1, 4-0) and are hoping for a different outcome.

“I expect [Calvin] to be a lot more organized, particularly in offense,” Belles coach Caryn MacKenzie said. “They’ve made adjustments, especially in their conference games. They are a much better team than when we last played them, and we’ll have to bring our best effort to beat them.”

The Knights lead the conference in scoring with 41 goals overall this season. The Belles have scored 17.

The Belles are coming off a 4-3 win Tuesday against Adrian, which moved them back into fourth place in the MIAA thanks to their four goals – the most they have scored in a conference game this season. A goal three minutes into the game by sophomore midfielder Katie Wehrli gave the Belles a jump start that was followed later in the half with tallies from sophomore defender Bridget Ronayne and freshman forward Samantha Smoger.

Saint Mary’s controlled the ball for a majority of the first half, allowing a goal toward the end of the first half. However, two more goals got past the Belles’ defense and into the net during the second half.

“One good thing we showed is that we can score, and that we have the ability to,” MacKenzie said. “That was long overdue for the talent we possess as a team. It makes a difference without having Lauren [Hinton] and Micki [Hedinger] and having to adjust with new players up top.”

Saint Mary’s has definitely showed that this season, with 10 different players tallying goals, not all of them forwards.

“We’re quite versatile,” MacKenzie said. “We have the ability to put players different places, and to come at you from different places, and have found success that way. The coaches believe it, the players not so much. When they start to believe that, things will start to happen, and anything’s possible. “

Saint Mary’s has shown improvement, demonstrating consist play with the exception of a half or two in various games. The Belles have moved players around due to injury and have defeated tough teams such as Kalamazoo (8-3-1, 3-1-0), and tied intense teams like Albion (8-2-2, 2-1-1).

“We are capable of more than we realize,” MacKenzie said. “It’s a matter of the entire team believing that, and not just a few of our players. It’s coming.”

As they head into their game against Calvin, who has been ranked the top team in the league in MacKenzie’s four-year tenure at Saint Mary’s, the Belles are looking to show the Knights they can play with the best.

“As a team, we need to start to believe in ourselves in competing and beating anybody,” MacKenzie said. “It’s time for our women to believe that it’s our turn to be at the top of the conference.”