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SMC Soccer: Unbeaten Belles travel to Scotland Yard

By Mike Monaco | Friday, September 21, 2012

In years past, there was such thing as a good loss. There was such thing as being satisfied with a tie. This season, however, the Belles are only interested in winning games, something they look to continue to do when they square off with Alma on Saturday.

In 2011, the Belles (4-0-1, 2-0-0 MIAA) had their first 10-win season since 2005 and had more wins than in their least three seasons combined. The program had shown marked improvement, something that has continued into this season, highlighted by Saturday’s 2-1 win over defending MIAA champion Adrian.

Belles coach Michael Joyce said the newfound success is leading to a new mentality in conference clashes.

“When you are working your way up the conference, you can become satisfied with simply competing well against the top teams even if you don’t win,” Joyce said. “After last Saturday, I think we’ve turned a corner where we won’t be satisfied just to play with top teams, but will be hungry for a result.”

Alma (5-1-1, 2-0-1) enters Saturday’s match undefeated in the conference after a 2-1 win over Calvin, a 3-1 win over Olivet and a 0-0 tie against Adrian. Though the Belles were excited with their defeat of Adrian, Joyce said his squad would have no problem focusing on the task at hand against Alma.

“I don’t think focus will be a problem for us,” Joyce said. “We liked the feeling of winning a big game and I think we’d like to do that as often as possible.”

The Belles will have another chance to get a big win Saturday against the Scots on the road, something Saint Mary’s has not been able to do in its last two matches at Scotland Yard. The Belles fell 4-0 to Alma in 2010 and lost 2-1 last season on the road. In order to buck that trend, Joyce said his players need to start the game aggressively.

“We’ll have to come out strong against Alma,” Joyce said. “I think we were a little flat the last two times we traveled up there, so being sharp and energetic will be important from the start.”

Saint Mary’s will also have to worry about a strong Alma offensive attack that is averaging two goals per game, led by sophomore forward Mackenzie Smith’s six goals and 14 points. Joyce said he believes his own sophomores are up to the task of stopping the potent Scot offense.

“Their attack is talented across the board, so we’ll work to defend well as a team,” Joyce said. “We’ve got a couple of great center backs, [sophomores] Mary Kate Hussey and Kerry Green, who are rock solid in the back for us. I think a year under their belt, the experience they gained, their chemistry working together has been great this year.”

Such chemistry on the back line has contributed to this season’s impressive defensive results. The Belles have allowed just two goals, and sophomore goalkeeper Chanler Rosenbaum has a sparkling 0.24 goals against average. Despite the early-season success, Joyce said his team is trying not to get ahead of itself.

“It is a long season,” Joyce said. “Everything is going well so far, but there can be so many twists and turns. We’ll just try to keep heading in the right direction.”

The Belles head north Saturday to take on the Scots in Alma, Mich., at noon.