Confident Belles prepare for battle against Titans
Rebecca Rogalski | Monday, September 1, 2014
After battling back to beat Mount St. Joseph in overtime for its first win of the season Sunday, Saint Mary’s will look to build their first win streak of the year tonight when the Belles take on Illinois Wesleyan at 7:30 p.m., in Bloomington, Ill.The Belles (1-1) scored twice in the second half and extra period against the Lions (0-2), but before that had surrendered four unanswered scores in their previous two games. With that in mind, Belles coach Michael Joyce said he knew major improvements were needed on both sides of the ball, but he had faith in the squad’s developing midfield.
“I’m looking forward to seeing our midfield perform … Tuesday,” Joyce said. “They started developing some great chemistry against Mount St. Joseph and I’d definitely like to see that continue into our next game.”
The Titans (1-1) were ranked 20th in the NCAA Div. III preseason poll and are coming off a 3-1 win against Birmingham-Southern on Saturday. With the benefit of home field advantage, Joyce said that the Titans will be an especially tough test for Saint Mary’s.
“Illinois Wesleyan is a top team this season, so Tuesday’s game will be a good test for us to see where we are,” Joyce said. “Playing and dealing with high pressure will be important early to settle us in on the road and give us some confidence. We should have no problem competing with these top teams in the country but starting off well and playing confident is essential.”
Junior midfielder Maggie McLaughlin scored the game-winning goal for the Belles on Sunday and also contributed the cross which eventually led to the game-tying score earlier in the second half. Her goal ties her for the team lead with midfielder Erin Mishu and defender Mary Kate Hussey, both seniors.
Despite the challenge of playing a Titan team that advanced to the NCAA tournament last year, the Belles are confident they will be successful in Tuesday’s matchup against Illinois Wesleyan, Joyce said.
“We’re still not as sharp as we could be, but that’s expected early in the year,” Joyce said. “We definitely need to keep moving in the right direction, and as long as we continue to do so, I believe that we will put up a strong fight against Illinois Wesleyan.”
Saint Mary’s takes on Illinois Wesleyan on Tuesday at 7 p.m., in Bloomington, Ill.