Belles take seventh at O’Brien National
Saint Mary’s finished seventh out of 10 teams at its own O’Brien National Invitational this past this past weekend at Knollwood Country Club in Granger.
The Belles finished in seventh place overall in the team standings after shooting a 325 Monday to finish with a two-day score of 653. Wittenburg came in first place in the team standings after finishing with a team score of 591, followed by George Fox and Texas-Tyler while DePauw and Washington and Lee finished tied in fourth place. The Belles started the day in seventh place after shooting an opening-round 328.
“I knew we were going to have some really good scores this weekend because of the quality of teams and players in this field, but I was very surprised with Wittenberg’s finish,” Belles head coach Kim Moore said. “They broke the tournament record for overall best team score. It is great to see the kind of scores we had this weekend.”
Junior Ali Mahoney shot rounds of 80 and 74, carding a career-low with the latter round. Mahoney’s performance led the Belles and put her in a tie for seventh overall. Freshman Taylor Kehoe also shot a first-day score of 80 and followed it up with 83 Monday, while junior Courtney Carlson went 83-82, and sophomore Kaitlyn Cartone followed with an 85-89. Senior Sammie Averill shot 89-86 to round out the scoring for the Belles.
“I was very impressed by my entire team. We had a great overall two-day total,” Moore said. “And our team’s overall finish shows that we can definitely compete with some of the better teams in the nation. I was very pleased to see the overall score of Ali Mahoney.
“I also loved the consistent play from Courtney Carlson and Taylor Kehoe. We definitely need to continue that type of play going into conference play. It was also great to have Sammie Averill playing for the first time this season. I expect good things from her as well.”
The Belles are back in action next Wednesday at the first MIAA Conference Jamboree of the year at The Medalist Golf Course in Marshall, Michigan. The event will be hosted by Olivet.
“I think we need to continue working on our short game consistency along with some ball striking,” Moore said. “For the most part we had some good shots, but the consistency of hitting greens in regulation is always something we need to work on.
“I am extremely confident going into our first conference event. I am looking for our team to ride the momentum of this weekend and to work hard this week to keep the level of play up. I think if we continue working on our short game and use this week to fix a couple ball striking inconsistencies, we should do well.”
After picking up two home losses and one road victory in three conference games this past weekend, Saint Mary’s must now prepare for a tournament at Millikin this weekend.
In the first of their three matches, the Belles played second-ranked Calvin and lost in straight sets (25-13, 26-24, 25-10).
The Belles never led in the first set, but they matched Calvin point-for-point in the second. At one point, the Belles held the lead at 24-20 with a chance to take the set. However, they ended up losing six points in a row to lose the set, 26-24. After that, Calvin claimed the lead in the third set and never let up, pulling away to win the set by 15 points.
Junior outside hitter Meaghan Gibbons and senior outside hitter Katie Hecklinski each had nine kills in the contest, and Hecklinski added a match-high 12 digs.
Only two days after losing to Calvin, the Belles traveled to Trine and beat the Thunder in four sets (25-13, 25-22, 20-25, 25-20). In the first set, the Belles converted 15 kills on 26 attempts, an attack percentage of .577. The next three sets were tightly contested, but the Belles closed out a tight set in the second after failing to do so against Calvin.
The next day, the Belles returned home and lost in straight sets to Adrian (25-19, 25-23, 27-25), which dropped their conference record to 1-2. This match was much closer than the set score indicated, as Saint Mary’s lost both of the last two sets by only two points. In the second set, the Belles were down 12-6 until they scored 10 straight points to take the lead, 16-12. Nine of the 10 points were on Angela Bukur’s serve, and she pitched in three aces during her run. The Belles were not able to hold onto their lead, however, and lost the second set, 25-23.
The Belles will be back in action this Friday, when they will play two games against Webster and Rose-Hulman at Millikin.
Saint Mary’s continued its early season struggles, falling to both Olivet and Kalamazoo by scores of 3-1 and 2-0, respectively.
The Belles (0-5, 0-3 MIAA) first traveled to Olivet, Michigan, to take on the Comets (4-0, 2-0 MIAA) on Saturday. Although the Belles scored their first goal of the season in the game, they went on to concede a season-high in goals en route to the loss.
Olivet opened the scoring quickly with freshman midfielder Emma Essen putting the ball in the back of the net for the first time in her career in the fourth minute. That remained the only goal in the first half between both teams, as Olivet outshot the Belles 7-5 in the half.
The Comets then came out quickly again in the second half, as sophomore forward Isabelle Leon — who was named the Women’s Offensive Player of the Week in the MIAA — scored in the 55th minute. Leon finished the game with a goal and two assists.
The Belles’ offense continued to stall all the way until the 84th minute, when a handball earned senior midfielder Maggie McLaughlin a penalty kick, and she converted. The Comets were quick to respond, however, as Essen scored her second goal of the game to put the game at its final margin. Belles head coach Ken Nuber said his team did a good job applying pressure against the Comets prior to that final goal.
“We really pressed the game until two minutes remaining, when we gave up a counter attack,” Nuber said.
In the game, the Belles were once again outshot 20-9 by their opposition. Despite this, Nuber said he believes his team was in more control than the score reflected but just could not find a way to wrap it up.
“[We] gave up an early goal and found ourselves chasing [in] the game,” Nuber said. “We had the run of play in large pockets of the game but just couldn’t finish.”
On Monday, the Belles played host to the Hornets (2-4, 2-1 MIAA) and were held scoreless for the fourth time in five games, as Kalamazoo came away with a 2-0 victory. Both goals were scored in the first half, when Hornets junior midfielder Madeleine Chilcote scored in the 23rd minute, and sophomore forward Madison Moote tacked on another in the 31st minute. The Belles managed to put three more shots on goal than the Hornets but were unable to take advantage of any of their opportunities yet again.
The Belles are set to next take the pitch against Trine on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the Junior Irish Airport Fields.
SMC Cross Country
In its first invitational of the 2015 season Saturday, Saint Mary’s took 15th place at the Calvin Invitational in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Junior Brittany Beeler paced the Belles as she finished in 30th place overall with a personal record time of 19:03.4.
Following Beeler for Saint Mary’s was freshman Aubrey Penn, who finished in 69th with a time of 19:47.9. Other top performers for the Belles included senior Allie Danhof in 82nd with a time of 20:05.2, freshman Adele Edmonds in 93rd, and junior Kaitlyn Alessi, who finished in 97th and also clocked a personal best.
Aquinas won the event as a team with a score of 78, while host Calvin took second with a team score of 115.
The Belles will return to action this weekend, when they head to the Spartan Invitational. The event is set to begin Friday at 11:50 a.m.