Belles ride transition play in win over Loras
Brett O'Connell | Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Saint Mary’s bounced back from its weekend loss to John Carroll in a big way Monday, riding solid midfield transition play en route to a 17-5 drubbing of visiting Loras.
The Belles (4-4) finished their early non-conference schedule on a high note, using a combination of fast-paced, pinpoint offense and suffocating midfield defense en route to their victory over the Duhawks (2-6).
Saint Mary’s established an early 2-0 lead off of unassisted goals by sophomore attack Emilie Vanneste and junior attack Maria Roberts before surrendering the first of Loras’s four goals. After that, though, the Belles took over, scoring six straight by utilizing an aggressive offense that forced possession deep into the offensive zone and punished poor defensive positioning with pinpoint passing from behind the net.
In a growing trend in Saint Mary’s victories, the Belles significantly outshot their opponent; Monday’s game saw the Belles outshoot the Duhawks by as 32-10 margin, throwing 24 of those shots on net; Loras freshman goalkeeper Ashley McGee made seven saves.
Belles head coach Amy Long praised her team’s effort after the match, citing widespread offensive efficiency as a recipe for the team’s success.
“Overall, we worked really hard today,” Long said. “[We had] lots of good offensive movement and benefitted from multiple people scoring. We had lots of good assists on goals today – not just one on ones.”
The Belles’ offense started from the draw, where Vanneste dominated in the second half, according to Long.
“[Vanneste] had that pole draw over and over again,” she said. “Those draws, especially in the second half — winning draw after draw on every possession got us those goals.”
Indeed, the Saint Mary’s offense proved difficult to stop on successive possessions. The Belles scored four or more consecutive goals three times during the afternoon.
Following a difficult 20-9 loss Saturday, Long said it was good to get some momentum back heading into MIAA play.
“A lot of confidence [was] gained today,” Long said. “We played a quick team on Saturday, so getting this confidence back will be huge moving into Wednesday.”
Wednesday marks the opening of conference play for the Belles, who will host Hope in the only regular-season matchup scheduled between the two programs this season. In preparation for Wednesday’s game, Long cited the importance of transition fundamentals.
“[We have to] continue working on our ground balls,” Long said. “I think we did well today but we can do better, especially in the transition.”
Turnover margin heavily favored the Belles against Loras — the visiting team committed 28 total turnovers to the Belles’ 19. It followed a performance where Saint Mary’s forced more turnovers (25) than it committed (23) in a loss against John Carroll. Heading into the matchup with Hope (1-4), Long stressed the importance of taking advantage of opponents’ teammates.
“We have to make those turnovers count,” she said. “If we knock down the ball, we want to be able to pick it up and finish the play.”
The Belles will begin their conference slate Wednesday when they host Hope at 5 p.m.