SMC SOCCER: Belles hope to improve on winning streak
Associate Sports Editor
The ice has been broken and now the Belles are looking to heat up the season.
After getting two solid wins under its belt, Saint Mary's is looking to improve its winning streak to three in a game against Indiana Tech today.
"We're finally starting to see what style of soccer [we] play," head coach Bobby Johnston said. "We just needed to break the ice as a team."
Today marks the third game for the Belles in the last six days. After a long hiatus early in the season following a break between tournament play and MIAA play and another week off due to the terrorist attacks, Saint Mary's needed the close cluster of games to break through for some wins.
"Sometimes to get on a run like this helps your season," Johnston said. "We had two long layoffs and I think that hurt."
Junior Heather Muth agreed.
"The fact that we won on Sunday and that we won Tuesday, and the games have gotten progressively harder, it feels like we're gaining some momentum," she said.
Although freshman second-string goalie Martha Hottenstein is out with a hand injury, the rest of the Belles team is ready for play. After a season full of injury, this is the healthiest the Belles have been this season.
"All in all I think we're pretty much as healthy as we've been all year," Johnston said.
Today's game promises to be a close competition. Although Indiana Tech had its best season in history last year, finishing with a 14-7 record, the Lady Warriors (4-5-1) have struggled thus far this season.
However, with Lady Warrior goalie Wendy Jacobs in the box, the Belles will have their work cut out. Jacobs has given up an average of just one goal per game. This may affect the Belles, who have scored four goals in each of their two wins.
"We've improved on minimizing mistakes, so ... we can score a few goals right away," Muth said. "I think we can score more than one goal on their goalie."
With that in the back of their minds, Saint Mary's is going to look to capitalize on its strengths — keeping the ball in possession and playing smart soccer. Because they lack speed as a whole, they will also be looking to prevent speed from becoming an issue. Playing to their strengths was what gave Saint Mary's the victory against Alma on Tuesday.
"I think it played to our strengths of ball possession, playing to people's feet," Johnston said. "We played a very intelligent game."
The Belles faced off against Indiana Tech earlier this year in a pre-season scrimmage, and although there was no unofficial winner, the Belles outscored the Lady Warriors.
Halfway through the season, the freshmen that were unaccustomed to collegiate competition now seem to be ready to play. This, coupled with a solid defense, will play to the Belles' benefit today.
"Besides the freshmen stepping it up and really contributing, our defense is making less mistakes and is playing more as a unit," Johnston said. "Our communication is much better and our understanding of my style."
The final plus for the Belles is playing at home. The Belles have only left their home fields once in early season to play a tournament in Tennessee and feel more comfortable playing at home.
"We are so comfortable playing on our field," Muth said. " ... Every game we've played since the tournament has been a home game and we [will] definitely use that to our advantage."
Competition gets under way today at 4 p.m. at the Saint Mary's soccer fields.
All Sports Stories for Thursday, September 27, 2001