Concordia rolls over Belles
Rebecca Rogalski | Tuesday, March 25, 2014
After a narrow road loss to Aurora on Thursday, Saint Mary’s struggled against Concordia University–Wisconsin, losing 20-3 to the Falcons on Saturday.
The Falcons (4-0) came out strong on offense to start the game and took a 16-0 lead over the Belles (0-6) by halftime. Concordia outshot Saint Mary’s 24-2 and picked up 27 ground balls, compared to 13 for the Belles.
“We had a difficult time in the first half because Concordia ran a very high-pressure defense that we had not seen before,” Belles coach Amy Long said. “Concordia forced a lot of turnovers by pressuring the ball anywhere it was on the field. We had a difficult time controlling the ball with that added pressure.”
The Belles managed to slow the Falcons in the second half and generated some momentum of their own, as they were able to capitalize offensively and score three goals. Freshman midfield Aubrey Golembieski put the Belles on the scoreboard seven minutes into the second period before freshman defense Jackie Loesch added a second goal 33 seconds later and scored once more later in the second half to close out the scoring for the Belles.
“By the second half, our team was able to adjust to the high-pressure defense Concordia was running,” Long said. “We spread out on offense and really protected the ball in our offensive end. This helped us out-shoot our competition, 11-10, in the second half.”
Despite the increased offense, Concordia scored four more goals, closing out the game for a 20-3 win.
Belles freshman goalie Stephanie Szymas made three stops in goal before sophomore Tess Guerrero switched from attack to goal and added three more saves in the second half. Golembieski and sophomore defense Sarah Neeser each collected four ground balls, and Neeser led the team with five draw controls.
“I am proud of our improvement during the second half,” Long said, “We out-shot our opponent and won more draws than the Falcons did in the second half. We went from being out-hustled on ground balls in the first half to having an equal number of ground balls as Concordia in the second half. I am also proud of our defense because they were able to limit Concordia to just four goals in the second half to our three.”
Despite the loss, Long said the Belles now know what they need to improve on as they prepare for their games later in the season.
“This game against Concordia definitely helped prepare us for future games in which the opponent will be running a high pressure defense,” Long said. “This is hard to re-create in practice, and I am proud that we were able make the appropriate adjustments by the second half. Going into our next game, we will continue to work on protecting the ball as we move it down the field and in our offensive end.’
The Belles return to the field Sunday, when they host Illinois Tech in the program’s first-ever home game. The opening draw is scheduled for 1 p.m.