Saint Mary’s begin inaugural season in Memphis
Rebecca Rogalski | Tuesday, March 4, 2014
The Belles will kick off their inaugural season Sunday with a game against Hendrix during their spring trip to Memphis, Tenn.
Saint Mary’s will play four games in four days, competing against Hendrix, Rhodes, Millsaps and Defiance.
The Belles have been practicing indoors six days a week since early January in preparation for the spring season.
“It has been a little bit of a challenge for us playing inside when lacrosse is an outdoor sport,” Belles coach Amy Long said. “That’s why it will be so important for us to travel down to Memphis. We are extremely excited to finally get some turf time and even an outdoor practice in before our games.”
Going into their first game, Saint Mary’s will rely heavily on the strength and confidence of its two captains, freshman goalie Stephanie Szymas and sophomore defender Sarah Neeser, Long said.
“We’re really looking for [Szymas] and [Neeser] to have a big impact for us throughout this season,” Long said. “I think both these girls will hold the defense together by getting us started in our first few games to establish our defensive presence. They will also take on the role of establishing team communication, which is essential for players in this game.”
Currently, the Belles have only 13 players on their roster. In comparison, Rhodes carries 25 players. In addition to its small squad, Saint Mary’s is also a very young team. Of the 13 players on the Belles’ roster, 12 are freshmen or sophomores.
“Being a first-year team, it is expected that we would be a small group,” Long said. “This will definitely be a challenge, as we only have one sub who will be traveling down with us to Memphis.”
The Belles’ physical stamina will be tested this weekend during the four-game stretch, Long said.
“We have done everything we can to prepare, but I think it will be hard for us physically as we go into our fourth and final game next Wednesday,” Long said.
Despite these foreseeable challenges, Long said she believes the team will be successful if they couple a positive attitude with strong execution.
“Regardless of our numbers, there are several strategies we can use, like slowing down the game and controlling the ball movement,” Long said. “By playing smart overall, I have no doubt that we will come out of these games victorious.”
The Belles begin their season Sunday against Hendrix at 3 p.m. in Memphis, Tenn.