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SMC Lacrosse

Belles claim first program victory over weekend

| Monday, April 7, 2014

Overcoming early-season troubles and capitalizing on its goal-scoring opportunities, Saint Mary’s broke out offensively against Illinois Tech en route to a 16-4 victory Saturday, the first win in program history.

Belles freshman defense Shannon Weyer shadows an Illinois Tech attack during the Belles' 16-4 win Saturday. The victory was the first in the history of the program, which is in its first year.Caroline Genco | The Observer

Belles freshman defense Shannon Weyer shadows an Illinois Tech attack during the Belles’ 16-4 win Saturday. The victory was the first in the history of the program, which is in its first year.

The Belles (1-7, 0-1 MIAA) jumped ahead early with two goals from freshman midfield Aubrey Golembieski, but the Scarlet Hawks (0-9) responded with a pair of their own to bring the score to 2-2.

The Saint Mary’s offense exploded for eight goals to end the half, including two more from Golembieski and two from freshman midfield Emilie Vanneste, her first goals of the season.

Sophomore attack Tess Guerrero, sophomore defense Sarah Neeser, freshman defense Jackie Loesch and freshman attack Lauren Telford netted goals as well, and the Belles took a 10-2 lead into halftime. Belles coach Amy Long said she was thrilled by the variety of scoring.

“Offensively we finished well and had a lot of different players get goals, which was exciting to see,” Long said.

In the second half, freshman midfield Cathy Baxter notched a goal 45 seconds in, and Vanneste added two more goals to finish with four. Golembieski had a team-high five goals on the game.

Meanwhile, the Saint Mary’s defense held Illinois Tech scoreless for nearly 46 consecutive minutes. The Belles were 15 for 18 on clearances and forced 12 turnovers. Freshman goalie Stephanie Szymas was key to the defensive effort with seven saves.

“We played well defensively, and Stephanie had a great game,” Long said. “Overall, everyone just executed what we’ve been working on very well.”

The game ended in a 16-4 win for the Belles.

“We’ve improved a lot each game, and to actually take hold of the game and get such a big win … was really exciting,” Long said.

Long said the Belles’ recent outdoor practices gave them an edge in adjusting to the field.

“I think the grass field was definitely an advantage for us ¾ it took [Illinois Tech] quite a while to adjust to that,” she said. “Getting outside and practicing ground balls helped us a lot.”

The Belles had a 33-23 advantage in ground balls and controlled 14 of 22 draws.

With one win now under their belt, the Belles will travel to face conference opponent Hope on Tuesday.

The Flying Dutch (2-5, 0-2 MIAA) are led by two seniors, midfields Katie Sabourin and Molly Greenfield, who have 19 and 14 goals on the season, respectively. Long said the disparity in experience will be a challenge in the upcoming conference games for the first-year Saint Mary’s squad, which is over two-thirds freshmen.

However, she said the win over Illinois Tech was promising.

“Going into [Tuesday’s game against Hope], I think it just gives us a lot of confidence that we can execute what we’ve been talking about well,” she said.

The Belles and the Flying Dutchmen will square off Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Hope.

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