Belles struggle to close out Scarlet Hawks, lose second straight
Elizabeth Greason | Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Saint Mary’s lost to Illinois Tech on Thursday, 12-11, giving the Belles their second consecutive loss.
The game was neck-and-neck throughout, and Belles head coach Amy Long said this was problematic because her team was unable to build on any lead it held throughout the game.
“It is very tough to lose such a close game and a game that we should have won,” Long said. “We were able to maintain the tie or a lead for the majority of the game but were unable to build much momentum and finish the job.”
Within four minutes, the Scarlet Hawks (5-2, 2-1 MWLC) had jumped out to a two goal lead, but the Belles (2-4, 0-0 MIAA) quickly drew the lead to one when sophomore midfielder Clare Theisen scored off an assist by freshman midfielder Kate Kelly. Illinois Tech then scored another goal before the Belles were able to tie up the game with a pair of unassisted goals by Kelly and Theisen.
After giving up a fourth goal, the Belles substituted out junior goalkeeper and captain Shannon Weyer for freshman Cara Givens. Both players have received significant playing time so far this season, although Weyer has started each game in goal.
Long said having the ability to play both goalies could be a key to success for the Belles.
“They bring different strengths to the game, and I think it helps our cause being able to throw a different goalie at the opponent midway through the game,” Long said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity for them each to learn while on the sideline during the game, and I have been impressed with their ability to push each other and learn from one another. Junior captain Shannon Weyer is a true servant-leader and is critical to the development of Cara’s lacrosse skills. I have been pleased with how they have both been playing and am enjoying the luxury of having them share playing time.”
In the remainder of the first period, five different players tallied up a total of five goals for the Belles to give them the lead at the half. Junior captain attack Emilie Vanneste struck first, and this was followed quickly by Theisen’s third goal of the game. The Scarlet Hawks then went on the attack, but Cara Givens saved two goals to maintain the Belles’ one-goal lead. Junior attack Lauren Telford added to the Belles’ lead, but the Scarlet Hawks scored again to again draw within one goal. Kelly quickly responded by scoring her second goal of the game, and sophomore attack Hanna Makowski capped off the Belles’ run by scoring with 43 seconds left in the half. After conceding another goal with 29 seconds left in the period, the Belles carried a two-goal lead into the second half.
The second half, however, saw the momentum swing to the Scarlet Hawks. The Belles struggled to maintain control of the ball and gave up six goals in the second period while only scoring three, leaving Long disappointed, she said.
“We turned over the ball way too much and played pretty sloppy overall,” Long said. “We need to execute better to come up with wins in our close games.”
The second-half surge led the Scarlet Hawks to a 12-11, comeback win over the Belles.
Despite suffering a difficult loss, Long said she high hopes for the remainder of the season. She believes the team is on the verge of a breakthrough, especially if her offense can continue its high level of play, she added.
“There has been great improvement with our movement on offense,” Long said. “We have a few players who seem to be in a bit of a rut and who are not producing as much as we would like them to, so we are looking forward to getting our confidence back this week. I can’t wait to see our offense in action when we are executing well. They will be unstoppable.”
In their next game, the Belles will hit the road to take on Benedictine. Long said the key to the game will be brushing up on fundamentals, as the tough loss to the Scarlet Hawks only makes the Belles crave a win more.
“We will focus on taking care of the ball and minimizing the number of times we turn over the ball,” Long said. “We are doing a lot of things well, so we need to enter the game with confidence to outwork Benedictine and make good decisions with the ball. After the tough loss last week, I know our team will be coming out hungry for a win.”
Saint Mary’s is set to square off with Benedictine at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex.