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SMC Soccer: Belles take on Trine in MIAA matchup

Mike Monaco | Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Off to their best 10-game start since 2004, the Belles return home after a weekend sweep to take on Trine today in an MIAA matchup.

In 2004, Saint Mary’s (7-2-1, 4-2 MIAA) also began the season 7-2-1. Sophomore goalie Chanler Rosenbaum said the Belles are optimistic about the possibility of postseason play given their strong start to the season.

“We’re excited,” Rosenbaum said. “We feel good about ourselves. We see a very bright future for us, close to the [Division III national championships] and we feel like we can make that. … And we see ourselves making the [MIAA championships].”

The Belles, who defeated Kalamazoo 1-0 on Saturday and followed it up with a thrilling 3-2 double overtime victory over Rochester on Sunday, are tied for second place in the league. The top four teams in the MIAA advance to the conference tournament, and the winner of that tournament advances to the Division III national tournament.

The Belles will have another chance to keep ascending in the conference standings against the Thunder (1-7-2, 0-5-1). Rosenbaum said each conference match is important and Saint Mary’s cannot look past Trine despite its record.

“I think we’re feeling pretty confident,” Rosenbaum said. “Their record isn’t as good as ours but we can’t overlook any team. We just have to go show up and play.”

The Thunder is riding a nine-game winless streak, which includes three straight losses in which Trine has failed to score a goal. The Saint Mary’s defense, led by Rosenbaum and sophomore defenders Mary Kate Hussey and Kerry Green, has been stout throughout the season. The Belles have five shutouts and have held their opponents to no more than one goal in eight games. Rosenbaum said communication has been the key to the defense so far.

“Our defense is really strong,” Rosenbaum said. “We have [Hussey] and [Green] and they play a very similar game and communicate very well. And then I communicate with them and we make sure everyone is marked and has an option to pass the ball. I think we really communicate pretty well.”

On the other end of the pitch, the Saint Mary’s offense has netted 11 goals in the last four games. Junior captain and midfielder Mollie Valencia, who scored the game-winning goals against Albion and Kalamazoo, was named the MIAA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday. The goals were Valencia’s first of the season. Rosenbaum said she has great trust in Valencia, who was named to the All-MIAA second team in each of her first two seasons.

“Mollie is a great player,” Rosenbaum said. “She’s been all-conference the past two years. Every time I’m in the goal and see her with the ball, I know we’re in good hands. I know that if she has the ball in crunch time she can get the job done.”
Saint Mary’s will look to Valencia and the rest of the offense to keep the offensive outburst going against the Thunder, who has given up an average of 2.5 goals per game. Rosenbaum said the Belles’ persistence in getting quality shots has been important to scoring goals and winning games.

“[The key has been] our persistence,” Rosenbaum said. “We just keep going and keep shooting. We like to take it right inside the [18-yard box] and try to shoot because that’s obviously a better area to shoot from. That’s our key. We’re dribbling in and getting a closer shot on goal.”

Saint Mary’s squares off with Trine at home Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Contact Mike Monaco at [email protected]