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Belles drop first four games of program history

| Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Belles traveled to Memphis, Tenn., on March 9 to begin their inaugural season as a varsity program, and the inexperienced team faced some difficulties, dropping four games on consecutive days to Hendrix, Rhodes, Millsaps and Defiance.

Saint Mary’s (0-4) fell behind 3-0 in its debut matchup against Hendrix (4-5, 1-2 SAA), but freshman midfielder Aubrey Golembieski found the back of the net 10 minutes into the game for the team’s first-ever goal to cut the lead to 3-1.

However, the Warrior offense proved too much for the Belles to handle and by halftime the lead was 13-1. The game ended in a lopsided 18-2 loss for Saint Mary’s. Belles’ coach Amy Long cited the team’s lack of outdoor practices as a major obstacle to start the season.

“Our first game was the first time we were on a field all winter,” she said. “There will always be challenges … [such as] getting spacing down on the large lacrosse field when the team is used to a gym.”

The Belles faced Rhodes (5-2, 1-2 SAA) the following day and again found themselves in an early hole, trailing 9-0 after the first 20 minutes. A goal by sophomore defender Sarah Neeser was the lone tally for the Belles in a 13-1 first half.

The second half was a major improvement for the Belles. Although they lost 19-4, they cut their 15 first-half turnovers to six and were outscored by a narrower 6-3 margin in the second half. Long said she was impressed with how her team battled back after falling behind.

“Our team persevered … and continued to work hard each game,” she said. “We played better in the second half and our stats show that.”

The Belles, who played without subs because of their limited roster, had their endurance tested as the week wore on, Long said.

They again fell behind early in an eventual 17-4 loss to Millsaps (2-3, 1-1 SAA), but they showed improvement with 17 shots and 11 of 14 successful clearances in the game. Golembieski and sophomore attack Tess Guerrero each contributed two goals for the Belles.

Saint Mary’s continued to show development in its final game against Defiance (1-3), in which early goals by freshman midfielder Cathy Baxter and freshman defender Jackie Loesch gave the Belles a 2-0 lead midway through the first half. A flurry of goals by the Yellow Jackets put them up 4-3 at halftime, however, and the game ended 9-5 in favor of Defiance to conclude the Belles’ winless trip.

“Our first four games were definitely a learning experience,” Long said. “We improved each game, and the coaching staff was very impressed with the change from the first game to the fourth game of the week.”

Saint Mary’s had 49 unforced turnovers, picked up just 19 ground balls and had 58 shots while allowing 120, all problems which Long said she hopes to address in the upcoming practices. Golembieski netted six goals on 18 shots for the week.

The Belles’ next game will be Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at Aurora.

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