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SMC Soccer: Belles unable to come back from halftime deficit

Vicky Jacobsen | Monday, October 3, 2011

The Belles returned to the pitch with renewed aggressiveness for the second half of their home match against Kalamazoo on Saturday, but it was not enough to dig them out of a two-goal deficit and they fell to the Hornets 2-0.

“We didn’t work hard enough in the first half. We didn’t fight for loose balls hard enough in the first half,” Belles coach Michael Joyce said. “We just weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. The second half was nice, but you need two halves to win the game.”

The Hornets (6-4, 5-2) controlled possession in the early minutes of the match, maintaining stifling pressure on the Saint Mary’s defense. The Belles (6-4, 2-4) cracked in the 21st minute when Kalamazoo junior forward Jackie Short shot down the field, received an assist from sophomore forward Sam Voss and launched the ball into the upper left corner of the goal.

Belles freshman goalkeeper Chanler Rosenbaum kept Kalamazoo from increasing their lead with a spectacular leaping grab that earned a cheer from the crowd. Rosenbaum had five saves in the game, but with seven minutes left in the first half she tripped up, in front of her goal and failed to corral a loose ball, which Kalamazoo freshman midfielder Maria Rich tapped in for the second goal of the game.

Despite the deflating end to the first half, the Belles regrouped during halftime and returned to the field with a noticeably improved attack, outshooting Kalamazoo 12 to four in the period.

“In the second half we adjusted and came out and worked hard and we tackled hard and it was a totally opposite half,” Joyce said. “But we had dug ourselves a bit of a hole, down 2-0,” Joyce said.

Saint Mary’s best opportunity to score came in the 60th minute when junior midfielder Ashley Morfin sent an open shot in the box, but the shot bounced off the crossbar.

The second half was rougher than the first. While just three fouls were called in the first half, the referee stopped play 11 times in the second half.

“I think that was mostly the [referee]­ ­­­— he didn’t call a lot of stuff,” Joyce said. “Players get kicked, and if there’s no foul they start kicking back. I think a lot of that was just [the referee] letting a lot of the play go.”

While Joyce praised Saint Mary’s positive attitude and persistence during the second half, he said learning to play a more physical brand of soccer could help the Belles.

“That’s kind of our big theme from today. We talk a lot about positioning and our skill, but sometimes you have to dig down and fight a little bit harder than the other team,” Joyce said. “We didn’t have that in the first half, so that’s what we’ll take out of today and move on with.”

The Belles will play their next four games on the road, without a home game until Oct. 18. They will kick off the road-trip at Trine College Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]