Belles fall in conference opener
Rebecca Rogalski | Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Despite solid effort and improvement on the field, Saint Mary’s came up short in its MIAA opener against Kalamazoo, falling 16-9 in Wednesday night’s matchup.
The Hornets (3-4, 1-0 MIAA) jumped out of the gate quickly, posting a 2-0 lead less than six minutes into the game, but Belles freshman defense Jackie Loesch took a free position shot on goal only minutes later to put Saint Mary’s (0-7, 0-1) on the board.
After multiple fouls and turnovers by the Belles, the Hornets capitalized to extend their lead by three goals. Saint Mary’s regained some momentum late in the first half, countering Kalamazoo’s 4-1 lead with three straight goals of its own. Freshman midfield Cathy Baxter tallied an unassisted goal, Loesch connected with freshman attack Lauren Telford for another goal and freshman midfield Aubrey Golembieski knotted the game at 4-4 with an unassisted effort to cap off the run.
Still, Kalamazoo closed out the half with a set of goals to take a 7-4 lead at the break.
The Hornets continued their run in the opening five minutes of the second half with two more goals. Loesch brought an end to Kalamazoo’s scoring streak with an unassisted goal halfway through the second half.
As the game progressed, both teams exchanged goals, with Golembieski scoring a pair to keep the Belles alive. With the clock winding down, however, Kalamazoo strung together a string of goals to put the Hornets up 14-7 late in the second half. Golembieski capped off the scoring for the Belles in the final minutes of the game with two additional goals but Saint Mary’s never secured a lead.
“Overall, I believe we played a great game tonight,” Belles coach Amy Long said. “However, we gave up too many turnovers, especially in the second half. Having everyone play the whole 60 minutes with no subs definitely wears on our players. Regardless, I am proud of their continued strength and the way they played tonight.”
Saint Mary’s held the advantage in draw controls, 14-13, while Kalamazoo collected 23 ground balls to the Belles’ 17.
Freshman goalkeeper Stephanie Szymas had 17 saves in goal for the Belles, her best effort of the season.
“Stephanie truly stepped it up in goal tonight and had her best game of the season,” Long said. “She executed her clears well, and I couldn’t be more happy for her.”
In addition to Szymas, Golembieski had a record night, scoring a season-high five goals and controlling eight draws.
“Aubrey really amped up her game today by scoring multiple goals to lead our offense,” Long said. “She worked incredibly hard on the draws and was a true leader on draw controls.”
As the Belles look ahead to their next game, Long emphasized the importance of her team’s continued improvement.
“I am very proud that we scored more goals in this game than any of our games so far this season,” Long said. “It just goes to show that we are constantly improving, which is huge for us moving forward as a team. We played a solid opponent tonight and truly rose to the challenge. As a team, we played tough and worked to the best of our abilities in order to have our best game yet. Tonight without a doubt helped us gain confidence as we head into our next game.”
The Belles return to the field Saturday when they host Illinois Institute of Technology in the program’s first-ever home game at 1:00 p.m.