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SMC Soccer: Saint Mary’s travels in search of victory

Joe Wirth | Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Looking for their first win of the season, the Belles will travel to Elmhurst, Ill. Wednesday evening to take on Elmhurst College in a non-conference matchup.

The elusive first win will not come easy against the Blue Jays (4-1) who are coming off of an overtime victory Friday against Principia College.

The Belles have struggled all year offensively, and it is not going to get any easier when they take on Elmhurst. The Blue Jays defense, led by goalkeeper senior Allison Korbel, has allowed only two goals all season while tallying three shutouts.

Because of the stingy Blue Jay defense and the Saint Mary’s offensive ineptitude so far this year, Belles coach Michael Joyce plans on changing up the offensive strategy to open things up.

“We’re going to push some numbers up over the next few games to give ourselves an offensive push – we’ll have to gamble a little in the back but we’re not getting enough shots off with our current system,” Joyce said.

Though they have not broken through yet, Joyce said he does see some signs in his team’s first halves that they are not that far away from their first win.

“The last two games we’ve given up a very early goal,” he said. “It has been too bad because we’ve started very well over all; we’ve actually played some very good first halves, both games only down 1-0 at half.”

He also said he thinks the Belles have fallen victim to some bad luck and fluky goals in the early minutes that have left them with an uphill battle for the rest of the game.

“[It’s been] a goalkeeper slip in one game, and an errant cross that found the far side netting in the other game,” Joyce said. “We need to make sure nothing like that happens over our next few matches; it is tough to keep starting out that way.”

With such a difficult start of the season and such a young team, it would be easy to lose confidence. Coach Joyce said he does not think they have lost their confidence, but he does say that the rough start is definitely taking a toll.

“Tomorrow will be another tough game — Elmhurst is ranked No. 7 in the Central Region,” Joyce said. “Six of the seven teams we’ve faced so far have been at least regionally ranked if not nationally; and the last team on that list is a four-time conference champion and NCAA qualifier. That is a tough start; along with five starting freshmen and a new coach it’s not an ideal schedule. The team appreciates how tough our schedule is but losing a number of games does start to affect you.”

The Blue Jays’ biggest offensive threat is sophomore Biba Beckwith who leads or is tied for the team lead in assists, goals, points, and shots. If they hope to win, the Belles are going to have to contain Beckwith’s offensive prowess.

The Belles and Blue Jays will clash Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Berens Park.