Saint Mary’s wins first MIAA contest of season
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, April 8, 2016
Saint Mary’s’ first conference game of the 2016 season was a success as the Belles defeated Adrian on Wednesday, 12-9.
The Belles (4-5, 1-0 MIAA) shone through offensively, despite the cold and rainy conditions. Four players scored the Belles’ 12 goals, each one scoring on multiple occasions. This win was an especially important one for the Belles, head coach Amy Long said.
“We only have eight conference games so it was very important we won our first MIAA game of the season,” Long said. “Every game from here on out is very important and we will continue to prepare for each of them with intensity and discipline.”
Although the Bulldogs (1-7, 0-1 MIAA) struck first, Saint Mary’s quickly took control of the game by scoring the next four goals. Freshman midfielder Kate Kelly made the Belles’ first offensive move, scoring twice to begin their scoring run. Kelly’s two goals were followed by goals by sophomore midfielder Clare Theisen and junior captain, midfielder and attack combo Emilie Vanneste.
Goalkeeper and junior captain Shannon Weyer played the entire game and picked up 12 saves on the day, a season high for the Belles. Long said she was very pleased with Weyer’s performance in net.
“Weyer made 12 saves while only allowing nine goals in what I consider her best game ever,” Long said. “She also helped out our defense by collecting five ground balls and one caused turnover.”
Meanwhile, Adrian struggled to contain the Saint Mary’s offense, as its goalkeeper was only able to save one shot over the course of the entire game.
Weyer’s defense held the Bulldogs to only three goals throughout the first period, which was an especially promising sign for Long.
“Adrian played solid midfield defense and really challenged us in our transition,” Long said. “They had a couple players that were very fast so it was nice to see our defense step up and play body defense to slow them down effectively.”
Sophomore midfielder Mary Grace Heller scored the Belles’ final goal of the first half, bringing the Belles’ total of the period to eight as the half ended with a score of 8-3.
The second period brought even more success for the Belles, who were able to maintain their aggressive and consistent offense from the first half of the game. Long said she was particularly happy with how her team’s offense performed.
“We are improving each week, and I was impressed with our shots against Adrian,” Long said. “We scored our 12 goals on only 16 shots. Although I would like to see us take more shots in a game, I was impressed with the accuracy of our shots.”
The Belles and Bulldogs traded goals to start the half, with Heller scoring two more times. Kelly scored again to increase the Belles’ lead to a margin of six and Vanneste scored the Belles’ final goal of the game, giving them a total of 12. Vanneste’s final goal also allowed her to pick up a hat trick, joining Heller with three goals while Kelly tallied a game-high four. Kelly also had a very successful defensive game with five forced turnovers and eight ground ball pick-ups.
Next up for the Belles is another conference game, as they take on Olivet. Long said her team needs to focus on limiting small mistakes going forward while still striving to meet the team’s ultimate goal.
“Our end goal has not changed,” Long said. “We plan on qualifying for the MIAA tournament. We are focused on smaller goals like limiting the turnovers we give up and winning both halves of each game we play that will get us to that ultimate goal of playing in the post season. We are focusing on playing tighter defense and executing an effective midfield transition to prepare for Saturday’s game. I expect Olivet to bring as much to the table as Adrian did and plan on preparing our team to be ready for better teams as I know we will be facing stronger teams in our upcoming conference play.”
They will travel to play the Comets (0-4, 0-0) at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday in Olivet, Michigan.