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SMC Soccer: ‘Best game of the year’ earns Belles victory

A.J. Godeaux | Thursday, October 3, 2013

After going 0-2-3 in its first five conference games, Saint Mary’s won its second consecutive MIAA tilt Wednesday with a 2-0 shutout victory over Adrian.

“Today we played the best game of the year,” Belles coach Mike Joyce said. “It was the game we’ve been looking for where everything clicks, you finish your chances and manage the game.”

After a scoreless first half in which the Belles (4-4-3, 2-2-3 MIAA) outshot the Bulldogs (7-4-0, 5-3-0 MIAA) 7-1 but were unable to score, Saint Mary’s came out pushing the tempo in the second half. After getting off the first three shots of the half, the Belles broke through when freshman forward Rosie Biehl fired a shot from just inside the 18-yard box that ricocheted off Adrian sophomore goalkeeper Lexi Lewandowski’s hands into the goal for a 1-0 Belles lead. The goal was Biehl’s team-leading fourth of the year.

After a relatively quiet next 20 minutes, junior midfielder Erin Mishu won possession of a long free kick in the 85th minute, beating her defender, leaving a one-on-one opportunity between her and Lewandowski. Mishu didn’t let the opportunity pass, rocketing a shot from just inside the 18-yard box into the back of the net for her first goal of the season and a 2-0 Belles lead, which held until the final whistle.

Belles junior goalkeeper Chanler Rosenbaum had a relatively quiet game, saving all three shots on goal she faced for her third shutout of the season. 

Joyce was extremely pleased with the entire team effort Wednesday, pointing to the Belles’ depth and improved team chemistry keys to their recent improved play.

“I would normally point out some particularly good performances, but every last player was great today,” Joyce said. “We played 18 players and every last one of them played well, knew their job and we didn’t skip a beat when we made substitutions.”

The Belles’ held a 16-5 shot advantage over the Bulldogs, who came into the game tied for first in the MIAA, marked the fourth straight game the Belles have outshot their opponents.

“We’ve played well before but had yet to win in a tight game against one of the top teams in the conference,” Joyce said. “That all shifted today and I think we’ll gain a lot of momentum from the game.”

Looking forward to the Belles next matchup Sunday at Trine, Joyce said the Belles will have to be ready for a similar team in the Thunder (2-7-0, 1-6-0).

“Trine is just like us, spectacular at home, so it will be a tough game when we go there,” Joyce said. “They play smart and game plan well, so we’ll have to be sharp.”

The Thunder, currently sitting in eighth place in the MIAA, are coming off a 1-0 loss to Alma Wednesday. The Belles, despite the win, still sit in seventh place.

“We’re still behind in the conference from where we need to be or think we can get,” Joyce said. “So we’ve still got work to do.”

The Belles and Thunder take the field Sunday at 4 p.m. at Trine.