Belles take on defending MIAA-champion Hornets
By SARAH RYKOWSKI
If this weekend was big for Saint Mary's soccer, Tuesday is even more important.
Not only are the Kalamazoo College Hornets ranked 22nd in the NCAA Division III preseason poll, they are also the defending MIAA champions two years running. But the Belles are ready and waiting.
"I don't think ranking has to do with anything," Jessica Klink, Belles co-captain, said. "We've been very competitive lately. I have confidence in the team."
The Belles enter the contest with a 1-0 record and sitting on top of the MIAA standings. They have an overall 1-2 record after weekend losses to 5th-ranked DePauw and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
"This weekend we had a couple of tough losses, but it prepared us that much more for Kalamazoo," Katy Robinson said. "It's going to be a tough game."
The Belles lost to Kalamazoo 10-0 in 1998, then held the Hornets to two goals to fall 2-0 in 1999. Kalamazoo finished the 1999 season with a 16-3 overall record.
"I think if we play like we have been we do just fine," Klink said. "We've been close to Kalamazoo for the last two years."
Several factors stand to make the Kalamazoo game a good one. Kalamazoo has a new coach in Matt Filner, who played for and graduated from Oberlin College in 1991, where he holds all the offensive records. Adrienne Beller, a freshman at Kalamazoo, has tied down the starting job in the net for the Hornets. She will face Belles netminder Tia Kapphahn, who is also new to goalie after spending the 1999 season on offense and being the backup goalie in both 1998 and 1999.
Beller has led the Hornets to a 2-1-1 start overall, and the game at Saint Mary's will mark the opening of their conference season. Like Kapphahn, Beller's first collegiate start in goal turned ended in a shutout victory against Illinois Wesleyan. The Hornets' single loss came at the hands of Wheaton College, while they tied Ohion Northern and also defeated John Carroll.
"This weekend was good preparation," Stephanie Artnak said.
Artnak, an aggressive midfielder for the Belles, scored the first goal of the season on a penalty kick against Alma, and showed her defensive skills against Rose-Hulman this weekend.
"It's good to play the highest level team at the beginning of the season because then you know what to expect," Artnak said.
The Belles face Kalamazoo with new faces, skills, teamwork and optimism.
"I know that they are supposed to be really good," Laura Metzger said. "But I'm honored to even be on this team because these girls are so fabulous. They are not only phenomenal athletes, but they are good friends too."
Metzger, a freshman, will back up Kapphahn in goal against Kalamazoo, but is ready to play up front if needed, as she did against DePauw.
Although they have heard of Kalamazoo's reputation as a team with excellent defensive corps that received All-MIAA honors in 1999, the freshmen are not afraid.
Stacey Nastase was first-team sweeper in the MIAA, and received help from Kim Hartman and Heather Pederson. Juniors Jessica Mueller and Lydia Raburn and as senior Heather White received second team MIAA honors.
Raburn is already making her mark this year, earning Player of the Week for the first week of 2000 MIAA play.
She has generated the Hornets' only offense with goals in the win against Illinois Wesleyan and the tie with Ohio Northern.
"We hope to play as a team and not get frustrated," Kristen Greenwood, a freshman forward for the Belles, said.
All Sports Stories for Tuesday, September 12, 2000