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SMC Soccer: Belles hope to bounce back

Mike Gotimer | Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Saint Mary’s returns to the field Wednesday to take on Illinois Wesleyan with the hopes of rebounding from the drubbing it was handed by Olivet College.

The Belles will try to avoid coming out slow again, as they did against Olivet. The team started out sluggishly in its previous match, in part because of an 11-day layoff between matches, and it was never able to recover from a 2-0 first half deficit.

“The players seem energized to get on the field and prove themselves,” coach Ryan Crabbe said. “They trained very hard on Monday and Tuesday to prepare for this upcoming match, and I believe they want to put Saturday’s game behind them.”

Despite a disappointing season last year and a modest 5-4-0 record this season, Illinois Wesleyan has been a consistent program for much of the past decade, recording 11 10-win seasons between 1996-2006, including three seasons with 14 or more victories. Dating back to 1994, Saint Mary’s has only two wins against Illinois Wesleyan, the most recent of which came in 1999 when the Belles defeated the Titans 1-0.

The Belles and Titans have met in a non-conference match in each of the past three seasons. The teams ended in a double overtime 1-1 tie last year, but Illinois Wesleyan dominated Saint Mary’s with consecutive 4-0 victories in their 2005 and 2006 matchups.

But the Belles are confident they can play well against the Titans today.

“We have looked to make some changes that might better suit our personnel,” Crabbe said. “I am confident this team will step up and meet the challenge of tomorrow’s game.”

To be successful against the Titans, the Belles hope to avoid falling into a hole like they did against Olivet. The offense has struggled to score in bunches this season, as the team has just eight goals in seven matches thus far.

The match begins at 4 p.m. at Saint Mary’s.