Belles put together strong start to week
Saint Mary’s looks to earn its second straight victory when it takes on Calvin tomorrow afternoon at the Junior Irish Airport Fields.
The Belles (1-5, 1-3 MIAA) earned their first win of the season Thursday in a decisive 4-1 game over Trine. The four-goal effort against the Thunder (1-5, 0-4 MIAA) bucked a slow start to the season which has seen the Belles score just one goal in the first five games of the season.
The Belles trailed in the game early after conceding a goal in the 11th minute, when Thunder sophomore midfielder Gigi Jarratt scored her first goal of the season. However, Belles junior forward Liza Felix scored in the 27th minute to bring the game to a tie going into halftime. In the second half, the Belles scored three goals in the final 14 minutes of play, as junior defender Emily Rompola scored twice off corner kicks, and junior midfielder Kate Vasile found the back of the net in the 90th minute.
Following the game, Belles head coach Ken Nuber said he was proud of his team’s efforts.
“We played well today to earn our first conference win of the season,” Nuber said. “Very proud of the players. I feel we have done enough to have three wins already this season, but sometimes, you don’t get the result. Today, we were not going to be denied and came back from an early one-goal deficit.”
Tomorrow, however, the Belles face a tough matchup when they host the Knights (6-2, 4-0 MIAA), who come into the contest with a six-game winning streak. During this streak, Calvin has outscored its opponents, 13-3. They have been led by the strong play of junior forward Carly Veenstra, who leads the team with five goals and two assists on the season, all of which have come during the Knights’ winning streak.
After playing three games in six days last week, The Belles’ match with Calvin is its first since Thursday. Nuber said the time off has been beneficial for the team.
“We needed the time to get healthy,” Nuber said. “Senior [midfielder] Kathleen Lueking has not played in the last two-and-a-half matches, and she is key for us. We have a few players who are playing through some injuries so these six days [have] really helped the team.”
The Belles will kick off against the Knights tomorrow at 4 p.m. at the Junior Irish Airport Fields.
Saint Mary’s will compete in the first MIAA conference jamboree of the year Wednesday at the Medalist Golf Course in Marshall, Michigan. This is the first of five conference events over the next three weeks. The first jamboree will be hosted by Olivet.
“I am very excited for this upcoming conference season,” Belles head coach Kim Moore said. “I really feel we have a strong team that can compete with the top teams in the MIAA. I expect our team to ride the momentum we have from our previous O’Brien tournament and continue with their consistent play.”
Moore said she is expecting big things from juniors Ali Mahoney and Courtney Carlson, as well as freshman Taylor Kehoe.
“I expect our number one player, Ali Mahoney, to continue her stellar play and be that consistent base for our team this conference season,” Moore said. “I also expect some good things out of Taylor Kehoe and Courtney Carlson. They have been practicing very well, and I hope that confidence continues on to next week and the rest of this season.”
Moore said she believes her team’s previous tournaments this season have given it much needed experience for the conference schedule.
“Our team is always looking to improve,” Moore said. “We are always working on our flaws so that we can turn our weaknesses into our strengths. I feel that our previous events have been great preparation going into our first MIAA jamboree.
“One lesson we learned is that we have the players on this team that can play with a lot of the good teams in Division III. We should be able to compete with the likes of Hope, Olivet and Trine. We are looking to start off strong this Wednesday and put up one of our best team scores of the year.”
After a stretch of tough competition last week, Saint Mary’s only dropped one set in two victories at the Milikin tournament over the weekend.
In their first match at the tournament, the Belles beat Webster, 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-18, 25-18). The Belles put together a .258 attack percentage and were able to close out close sets after they struggled to do that last week at home against MIAA foes Adrian and Calvin. Senior outside hitter Katie Hecklinski posted 12 kills, nine digs and three aces, while junior outside hitter Meaghan Gibbons led the team with 16 kills.
Against Rose-Hulman, the Belles again continued to finish tight sets. The first two sets were close before the team shut the door in the third to complete the sweep (25-23, 25-22, 25-18). Hecklinski again had a solid game, earning 15 kills to go along with 14 digs. The Belles posted a .250 attack percentage, which was very similar to the .258 they posted in their first game. Junior setter Clare McMillan added 22 assists, while sophomore defensive specialist McKenzie Todd also tallied 14 digs for the Belles.
For their efforts, Hecklinski and Gibbons were named to the all-conference team at the conclusion of the tournament. Saint Mary’s will return to conference play when it hosts Kalamazoo on Tuesday. That game is the first in a string of four conference games for the Belles.
Saint Mary’s returned to action Friday in the Spartan Invitational on the campus of Michigan State.
Junior Brittany Beeler once again led the Belles. Beeler finished with a time of 24:25, which was good for 99th place overall. The Spartan Invitational did not include team scoring, but the Invitational hosted over 300 runners from all levels of college running.
Beyond Beeler, the Belles received solid performances from freshman Aubrey Penn, who finished in 129th with a time of 25:03, as well as senior Allie Danhof and sophomore Anna McClowry, who finished in 146th and 174th, respectively.
The race was won by Michigan State junior Rachele Schulist. Schulist finished with a time of 21:01.
The Belles are set to return to action next Saturday at the MIAA jamboree. The event will be hosted by Hope and take place at the West Ottawa Golf Club in Holland, Michigan.