Saint Mary’s looks for a hot start against Trine
Brett O'Connell | Friday, April 10, 2015
The Belles look to bounce back from Tuesday’s loss to Olivet in a critical conference matchup with Trine on Saturday.
Saint Mary’s (5-6, 1-2 MIAA) has struggled with consistency as of late, going 4-4 in its last eight games and dropping two of its three conference matchups. This weekend, the Belles will try to avoid losing two consecutive games for the first time since the first two matches of the season during their 1-2 road trip to Oregon.
Trine (3-4, 0-3 MIAA) represents an opportunity for the Belles to gain ground in the MIAA against a streaky opponent. The Thunder won three close matches in March, only to lose all three of their early April matchups by a combined score of 46-17. The Belles have given up 28 goals to conference opponents this season.
Saint Mary’s head coach Amy Long said it would be important to get off to a good start against Trine, citing a poor offensive effort in the first half against Olivet as an area she would like to see her team improve upon.
“Moving forward from the Olivet game in which we struggled to produce more than two goals in the first half, we plan to focus on scoring first and getting the lead in the first 10 minutes of the game at Trine,” Long said. “Momentum is huge in our game, and we failed to gain any momentum in the Olivet game until the second half, and it ended up being too late for a comeback.”
The Belles defense must be sound in order for the team to build an early lead, Long said, and Trine senior midfielder Taylor Gast poses a threat to that game plan. Gast has excelled offensively for the Thunder, scoring 21 points in seven games to lead the team.
Long said the Belles have built a defensive strategy specifically with Gast’s offensive ability in mind.
“Trine’s Taylor Gast’s number of goals this season is definitely reason to watch her closely and crash quickly on any drive she makes to goal,” Long said. “We always inform our defenders of our opponent’s leading scorers, and they communicate when those players have the ball so that we are able to crash quickly and hopefully shut down any shot opportunity or at least take the angle away. I am confident in our defense’s ability to limit the number of goals Gast scores on Saturday.”
The Belles currently sit tied for third in the MIAA with one win and two losses behind Albion, Calvin and Kalamazoo, who hold a three-way tie for first place with identical 2-0 conference records. A win against Trine would tie Saint Mary’s for second, while a loss would allow Trine to climb out of last place. The conference champion is determined by regular season record, with no postseason.
The Belles clash against the Thunder this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Angola, Indiana.