One SMC team travels to Georgia, another stays home for start to season
Daniel O'Boyle | Thursday, September 1, 2016
Saint Mary’s will open their season this weekend at home when they face Manchester and Milwaukee School of Engineering at the Belles Invitational tournament.
The games will be the first for Belles head coach Jesse Urquhart, who took over as Saint Mary’s coach this season. Urquhart said he and the team are excited to begin the 2016 season.
“The Belles have put in a lot of work preparing for the opening weekend and I would expect us to keep trending upward,” Urquhart said. “Our returning players have had a strong preseason and our first-year players have hit the ground running. The returning players are reinvigorated and excited to kick off the season and a new brand of Belles soccer. The first-year players are equally as excited to finally kick off their college soccer career.”
Manchester posted a 5-10-2 record last season playing in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. MSOE posted a 15-7 record that saw the Raiders win the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference championship, before a first-round defeat in the NCAA tournament to MIAA champion Calvin. Urquhart said both teams pose a challenge for the Belles.
“Both teams will likely look to impress in their opening weekend so I would expect hard, fast paced play,” Urquhart said. “I expect both teams to be well organized and energized to kick off the season.”
MIAA rival Kalamazoo will also take part in the invitational. The Belles will face Manchester at 5:30 p.m. Friday, before taking on MSOE at 3:00 p.m. Saturday.
The Belles will travel to Georgia this weekend to open their 2016 season at the Emory tournament.
In a packed weekend, Saint Mary’s faces the College of Saint Benedict, Birmingham-Southern College and Saint Thomas before taking on the hosts.
Saint Benedict comes into the tournament with some recent success, making it to the NCAA tournament last season under the leadership of honorable mention All-American junior setter Megan Pekarek. Birmingham-Southern posted a 25-6 record last season, ending with a defeat to Emory at the NCAA tournament. Saint Thomas finished 9-17 last season, good for eighth place in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Emory finished the 2015 season with a 34-4 record, earning a No. 1 seed in the Mt. Berry Regional for the NCAA tournament, where they were defeated in the regional final by Hendrix College.
After two successive 15-win seasons, the Belles hope to build on their recent success with a strong start to the 2016 season.
Saint Mary’s will face Saint Benedict at 2:00 p.m. Friday, before playing Birmingham-Southern at 7:00 p.m. the same day. On Saturday, the Belles will face Saint Thomas at 11:00 a.m. and Emory at 1:30 p.m.