Belles strive for first program win
Andrew Robinson | Wednesday, March 26, 2014
After a slow start to their inaugural season as a varsity program, Saint Mary’s looks to build on its experiences so far and challenge a comparable Illinois Tech team Sunday.
The Belles (0-6, 0-0 MIAA) and the Hawks (0-6) have each had their share of struggles to start the season. Saint Mary’s lost its most recent game against Concordia 20-3 on Saturday and has not yet been able to overcome the hurdles that come with inexperience.
“As a new team, a large adjustment for our players has been learning to work with new teammates,” Belles coach Amy Long said. “We have 13 players who have never played together, and there is definitely a learning curve associated with that.”
Illinois Tech, also in its first season as a varsity lacrosse program, has encountered similar speed bumps. The Hawks have allowed 106 goals in their first six games while scoring just 13, most recently losing 20-1 to Otterbein on Saturday.
Long said she expects to see improvement from previous games in the matchup, especially with home field advantage.
“I expect our game on Sunday versus Illinois Tech to be a very competitive game,” she said. “It will be our first game at home, and I expect that to have a positive impact on our players.”
She said that the team has been addressing several glitches, especially the transition from defense to offense, and that they hope to improve in these areas on Saturday.
“Our transition through the midfield … continues to be a challenge for us,” Long said. “Going into the game, we will continue to work on our transitions and slowing the ball down on offense.”
Long also pointed to major improvements on both ends of the field that are promising for the team moving forward.
“Our team has a strong defense. The players on defense communicate and work well together,” she said. “Our patience and confidence on offense has also improved greatly since our first game.”
The Belles have allowed just 28 goals in the second period compared to 67 in the first, which Long attributes to the team’s resiliency over the course of the game.
The team’s shot, ground ball and turnover statistics have also improved significantly since the first few games.
Freshman midfielder Aubrey Golembieski has been a standout for the Belles, notching 11 goals while securing 25 draw controls and 20 ground balls so far this season, all team-leading statistics. She had four of the team’s seven goals in the 12-7 loss to Aurora last Thursday.
Loesch has added five goals on 13 shots, while freshman defenseman Katlynn Dee has a team-high 10 caused turnovers.
Despite the shaky start to the season, Long said she remains confident in her team and the improvements they have made.
“They have built close relationships already and continue to learn more about their teammate’s motivators and how to communicate most effectively.”
The Belles host the Hawks for a 1 p.m. contest Sunday.