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Squad hosts second tournament

Alex Barker | Friday, September 25, 2009

The Belles return home after a tough three-game road trip to host the Saint Mary’s Fall Classic Friday and Saturday, marking the second time they have hosted a tournament this season.

Saint Mary’s (2-5-1) played host to the SMC Invitational Sept. 11, in which the Belles split two games.

The Belles began the season on a winning note before hitting a rough stretch where they failed to score in three straight contests. Since then, however, things have been looking up.

Saint Mary’s broke the streak with its biggest win of the season in the SMC Invitational with a 5-1 victory over Manchester. Senior forward Micki Hedinger had her best performance of the season, netting two goals in the match.

After a slip-up against No. 7 Illinois Wesleyan, the Belles took No. 21 Wilmington College to the brink before giving up two late goals in the loss.

In its last game, Saint Mary’s took on Hiram in the closest game of the season, eventually battling to a 1-1 tie after two overtime periods. Senior forward Katie Wehrli scored the Belles’ goal in the 90th minute to send the game into overtime.

Saint Mary’s has taken on a vast improvement from last season’s 2-13-1 finish.

“I feel like our team has gotten a lot closer this year,” senior goalkeeper Patty Duffy said. “Last season, we were all just trying to adjust to each other along with having a new coach. This year we have 15 returning players and seven freshmen. I feel like we have all reached a level of comfort and trust with each other, even with our freshmen.”

In Ryan Crabbe’s second year as the Belles coach, Duffy agreed that there has been a change in the atmosphere of the team.

“We still learn new things about our coaches and our teammates all the time,” she said. “But now we don’t have to waste time trying to read each other. We know what [Crabbe’s] expectations are now and we just have to challenge ourselves to meet them.”

The Belles will face Bethel Friday at 5 p.m. before taking on Marian Sunday at 2 p.m. Saint Mary’s will begin MIAA conference play next Wednesday when it travels to Adrian College.