SMC aims to build home win streak
Rebecca Rogalski | Thursday, April 10, 2014
With one win under its belt, Saint Mary’s looks to pick up another victory on home turf this Saturday in its second conference game against Adrian (5-5, 3-0 MIAA).Coming off a road loss to Hope, the Belles (1-8, 0-2) know that they need to make improvements on both offense and defense, Belles coach Amy Long said.
“We plan to work on our transitions throughout this week’s practices,” she said. “We need to remain composed when facing a double or triple in the midfield. Our players have great sticks skills and have the ability to move the ball upfield successfully, so we need to continue to practice with that added pressure to get them used to it and increase their confidence.”
Home-field advantage will play a key role in this series for the Belles, whose only win this year came at home on April 5 against Illinois Tech, 16-4. The win marked the first in the history of the program, which began this season. Long said she believes this advantage will hold some weight in Saturday’s matchup, as the Belles seek their first conference win of the season.
“It’s always nice to play at home in front of your home crowd,” Long said. “We are also one of the only schools in our conference that plays on a grass field. That could create an advantage for us at the beginning of the game as we are used to picking up ground balls on grass, which can be an adjustment for teams that are used to picking them up on turf.”
In addition to having home field advantage, Long said she expects to see her defense step up this weekend against a Bulldogs offense that scores nearly 12 goals per game.
“Adrian is a very high-scoring team, and their offense will present the biggest challenge our defense will see all year,” Long said. “Our defense works hard each and every game, so I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them compete on Saturday.”
Adrian’s high-powered offense features senior midfield Hannah Early. Early racked up nine goals for the Bulldogs in last week’s 25-9 win over Kalamazoo.
“We will need to be ready to move the ball quickly and efficiently to avoid getting swarmed by defenders,” Long said. “Our defense and goalie will truly be tested by this very offensive team.”
Despite Adrian’s offensive firepower, Long said the Belles are confident heading into the matchup as they enter the middle of their conference schedule.
“Overall, the girls just need to protect the ball when we have it and make smart passes,” Long said. “By hustling to ground balls and continuing to execute well on the draws, I believe that we will put up a strong fight against Adrian.”
The Belles take on the Bulldogs at 1 p.m. Saturday at home.