Belles teams prepare for weekend action
Saint Mary’s looks to pick up its first win of the season tomorrow when it welcomes Trine to Junior Irish Airport Fields.
Heading into the game, the Belles (0-5, 0-3 MIAA) are coming off a tough 2-0 defeat to Kalamazoo on Monday. Belles head coach Ken Nuber said he believes it was a game his team could have just as easily won.
“I was disappointed for the girls we didn’t get the win on Monday,” Nuber said. “We played very well against the team picked to win the league and should have gotten the result. We created a bunch of opportunities and just couldn’t finish.”
Having only scored one goal in five games, finishing opportunities has been a problem for the Belles all season. Despite these struggles, Nuber said he has seen improvement by his team in each game thus far.
“The conference schedule does not leave a bunch of room for true training with a crazy three games in six days, but we are improving,” Nuber said. “I feel good about the progress we are making, and the players are starting to get healthy.”
Tomorrow, the Belles play host to the Thunder (1-4, 0-3), who have struggled as well over their last four games. After winning its season opener against Manchester — a team Saint Mary’s fell to by a score of 1-0 — Trine has lost four straight and been held scoreless in all of those matches. With that in mind, Nuber said his team has a great opportunity to come away with its first victory of the season.
“Trine is a much-improved team that will attack us on the flanks,” Nuber said.
“I think if we can continue to create scoring chances, we can get our first result.”
The Belles will take the pitch against Trine tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Junior Irish Airport Fields.
Saint Mary’s will return to action this weekend as it heads to Michigan State to compete in the Spartan Invitational.
For the Belles, the Spartan Invitational follows last weekend’s Calvin Knight Invitational, where Saint Mary’s placed 15th.
“Overall, I was really pleased with the team’s performance at Calvin. We ran well together,” Saint Mary’s head coach Jackie Bauters said. “However, I think some people could have had better performances with a more relaxed start. It is easy in the big races to get sucked out too fast in the first 800 to 1,600 meters and then take a hit in the middle of the race. I’m hoping the team can be more mindful of their pacing off the line this Friday, especially as it will be an even faster field.”
While all of the races so far for the Belles have been five-kilometers, Friday’s race will the first six-kilometer event for the Belles in 2015.
“For our first-years, it will be a great time to test run their first 6K,” Bauters said. “Although it isn’t a significant difference from the 5K in many ways, racing a new distance always provokes a little nerves. I’m glad we have one to get under our belt before our [MIAA] Jamboree.”
Friday’s Spartan Invitational is part of a crucial stretch for the Belles that includes last week’s Calvin Knight Invitational and next weekend’s MIAA Jamboree.
“As a team, I don’t have placing expectations, but [I] do have hopes for where people will individually finish,” Bauters said. “I think if we race smart, everyone can have a really great day. I’ve never taken the team to MSU before, but I hear that it runs flat and fast and I’m excited to see a great race.”
The Spartan Invitational is set to begin at 11:50 a.m. Friday on the Michigan State campus in East Lansing, Michigan.
After a pair of losses last week, Saint Mary’s will look to right the ship this weekend at the Millikin Fall Frenzy in Decatur, Illinois.
Last week, the Belles (5-3, 1-2 MIAA) played three conference games in four days, losing in straight sets to No. 2 Calvin and Adrian on either side of a four-set victory against Trine.
After that foray into league play, the Belles return to nonconference action Friday when they head west to face Webster and Rose-Hulman in a pair of neutral-site contests.
The Belles will face Webster first Friday, and the Gorloks (4-4, 2-0 SLIAC) enter the contest on a three-match winning streak, taking games in straight sets against Eureka, Iowa Wesleyan and Saint Louis College of Pharmacy.
Saint Mary’s will conclude the day against the Engineers (8-3, 0-0 HCAC), who raced out to a quick 8-1 start this season, but come into this weekend on a two-game skid after losses to Centre and Ohio Wesleyan.
First serve for the Belles goes up in Decatur, Illinois, on Friday at 7 p.m.