Olivet defeats SMC for Belles’ third loss in a row
Despite bucking its longest scoring drought of the season, Saint Mary’s dropped its third straight match Saturday when it fell to Olivet in double overtime, 3-2.
The Belles (1-10-1, 1-8-1 MIAA) broke their five-game scoreless streak against the Comets (9-3-1, 6-3-1 MIAA) this weekend, scoring two goals in regulation, but the Comets scored the game’s deciding goal in the 103rd minute.
The Belles started off the game’s scoring when senior defender and captain Lindsay Rzepecki scored in the 15th minute. They held this lead going into halftime, but just three minutes into the second half, Comets senior defender Jordyn Mackool scored her first goal of the season to tie the game up.
In the 61st minute, Comets freshman midfielder Emma Essen scored an unassisted goal to put Olivet up, 2-1. The Belles remained unfazed, however, as junior midfielder Jenn Jarmy scored in the 87th minute to force overtime.
In the first overtime period, the Comets outshot the Belles, 3-2, but neither team was able to score. In the second period, however, Essen found the back of the net for the Comets on the first shot of the period to give Olivet a 3-2 win.
After the game, Belles head coach Ken Nuber said he felt the team played its best game of the season, despite the result.
“Saturday was tough because we have come so far in our development and started attacking very well,” Belles head coach Ken Nuber said. “We were without a few key players that could have made a difference like [freshman goalkeeper] Rachel McCarthy and [junior forward] Kate Vasile. [Freshman goalkeeper] Cara Givens had been out for the past three weeks with injury, and for a keeper, repetition is everything, so this put Cara in a very tough position.
“Having said that, we should have won the game based on our play. We have multiple opportunities to put the game away, even in overtime. A few mental mistakes lead to the winning goal, but overall, it was our best game.”
Up next for Saint Mary’s is a road matchup with Kalamazoo on Tuesday. The Hornets (6-6-1, 6-3-1 MIAA) currently sit in fourth place in the conference, and they have a game-and-a-half lead over Albion for the final spot in the MIAA playoff.
Over the break, the Belles also have games with conference bottom-dweller Trine and conference-leader Calvin on Saturday and Oct. 24, respectively.
Nuber said it is important for his team to keep fighting and improving each and every game, despite being out of playoff contention.
“It’s been tough because I have felt that we have been the better team in a few conference matches that didn’t go our way, so I am hopeful that we can get a few results out of the six games,” Nuber said. “Hope and Calvin are battling for the championship, but I believe we can play with anyone and steal some points. I have preached to the team from day one that it’s about daily improvements, and that is what we continue to talk about. We are not in the running for a top-four finish, but with six games remaining, we can still finish in the middle third, which is our goal.”
The Belles are set to next take to the pitch Tuesday at 7 p.m. against the Hornets at MacKenzie Field.
Saint Mary’s finished with a team score of 660 to finish in third place in the team standings at the MIAA Conference End of Season Weekend Jamboree over the weekend.
“At the end of the first round, I was really excited to see that we had some consistently low scores from some of the players I expected,” Belles head coach Kim Moore said. “However, there was some surprises from a few individuals after the second day, and so we didn’t quite finish where we wanted to.”
Sammie Averill paced the Belles with a 159 over the two-day event, good enough to put the senior into a tie for fourth place for the tournament. Based on her performance over the fall season, Averill also won the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player award for the lowest adjusted scoring average, the eighth player in Saint Mary’s history to do so.
“I was very excited to see her win that award,” Moore said. “She didn’t know she was close, so to see the look on her face when I told her she was the conference player of the year was really awesome. The final was so close, and she only won by one stroke, but she was so deserving of that award, and I am so glad the results turned out the way they did. It has been great to see the way she has matured and battled back on this team after a year away and a shoulder surgery over the past summer. She has worked really hard, and she deserves all the accolades that came her way this fall.”
Junior Courtney Carlson followed Averill, posting a combined 164 over her two rounds for the Belles. Freshman Taylor Kehoe finished with a 167, while junior Ali Mahoney was fourth for the Belles with a 170. Sophomore Kaitlyn Cartone rounded out the scoring for Saint Mary’s with a 180.
“Ultimately our goal is to finish in the top four in our conference so that we can have a chance for our NCAA [automatic qualifying] spot in the spring,” Moore said. “However, I was a little disappointed with our last round. We played well in our first round this weekend, which brought us only four strokes back from the second place school going into the last round. Then in the second round, we didn’t play up to our standard, which dropped us five additional strokes back and put us in third overall. Having said that, I am very proud of the way my team hung in there and tried to rally back. We just fell a little short, so hopefully we can make up some ground in the spring.”
The fall season has wound to a close for the Belles. Moore said her team will train hard during the winter to prepare for the spring season.
“I want our team to use the momentum and the success we had this fall to help drive them over the winter,” Moore said. “We will be having a few top players leave us for the spring, so I am looking for some players to step up. We have the talent; now we just need some drive, and hopefully a few of my players will take on this challenge, work hard over the winter and be ready to go in the spring.”
After a tough loss to Alma last Tuesday, Saint Mary’s picked up a win and a loss over weekend action.
The Belles ran into fifth-ranked Calvin on Friday and returned with a 3-0 loss (25-22, 25-14,25-15). In the first set, the lead changed hands seven times, and the score was tied 13 times. With the score tied at 19 all, the Knights smashed two consecutive kills to stretch their lead to two points. However, two Knight errors allowed the Belles to tied the game immediately at 21. Over the next five points, Calvin pounded down four kills to take the first set. In the second and third sets, the Knights started quickly and opened up a lead the Belles did not come close to challenging.
The next day, Saint Mary’s hosted Trine and came back from a 2-1 deficit to prevail in five sets, 25-22, 21-25, 24-26, 25-19, 15-9. Senior Katie Hecklinski and sophomore McKenzie Todd put together strong stat lines, with Hecklinski registering a career-high 25 kills, and Todd’s performances earning her MIAA Player of the Week honors.
After going down 2-1 following three close sets to start the match, the Belles shut the door on Trine. The fourth set only had two ties and one lead change, which was when Saint Mary’s went ahead, 2-1. The Belles jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the fifth set, and when Trine rallied to make it 10-8, Saint Mary’s went on a 5-0 run to claim the set, 15-9, and the match, 3-2.
The team is now 5-5 in league play and sits in a three-way tie for third, which puts them into a potential playoff spot. The middle of the conference is still close, as third through seventh place are separated by only two games. The Belles will travel to Adrian, which is only a half-game behind them, Wednesday. Saint Mary’s will then travel to Kalamazoo on Oct. 23.
Saint Mary’s returned to action over the weekend at the Benedictine Invitational in Warrenville, Illinois, the Belles’ first meet in two weeks.
As a team, the Belles placed third with a score of 72. Aurora placed in first overall with a score of 36, while North Central was runner-up with a team score of 62.
Once again, Saint Mary’s was led by junior Brittany Beeler, who has been the first Belle to cross the finish line in every one of Saint Mary’s races so far this season. Beeler’s time was 23:01.5, which placed her fourth overall.
Outside of Beeler, Saint Mary’s had a flurry of runners who recorded personal records. Among them, junior Kaitlyn Alessi finished with a time of 24:06.4, which placed her 13th, and junior Colleen Ogren posted a time of 24:12.5, which put her in right on the heels of Alessi in 14th.
The Belles will return to action this coming weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Invitational on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.