Belles hope to build on last season’s success
Elizabeth Greason | Thursday, March 3, 2016
Although 2016 will only be Saint Mary’s third year with a varsity lacrosse program, the team has improved over its short history. In the the Belles’ second season, they more than doubled their win total from their first and finished last season with a 7-10 record. According to Belles head coach Amy Long, the team is looking to make similar progress this season.
“Our team did make a huge amount of progress during our second year, and I expect an even larger amount of growth this season,” Long said.
One of the characteristics of this year’s team is its youth. After only losing a few seniors, the team will be captained led by three juniors: Katlynn Dee, Emilie Vanneste and Shannon Weyer. The Belles also return six of their seven leading scorers from last year. On top of retaining the majority of the team, the Belles have added six new members to the roster. As a result, Long says that team-building has been a major focal point of preseason training.
“Throughout our preseason, we have focused on working together and the development of our offensive unit and our defensive unit,” Long said. “With six new players and four players who were abroad during our fall season, we have placed an emphasis on building relationships and communication to ensure we are working together as a team effectively. We have also been paying special attention to the small details of many of our basic lacrosse skills to create consistency, as these little things will be the difference maker in many of our games.”
While other teams and coaches might consider fielding such a young team to be a risk, Long expects the team to maintain a high caliber of play.
“Emilie Vanneste and Katlynn Dee were our program’s first All-MIAA selections, and I have even higher expectations for them this season,” Long said. “Vanneste along with [sophomore] Clare Theisen will lead our offense and midfield. Dee will continue to have an important role as a main leader for our defense and our two goalies, Shannon Weyer and [freshman] Cara Givens who will also serve as vocal leaders.”
The Belles are looking to expand upon their reputation for strong defense this season. Last season, Weyer had 120 saves as goalkeeper last season and the Belles totaled 185 caused turnovers.
On top of sustaining its strong defense, the Saint Mary’s lacrosse team has optimistic hopes for the season as a whole. As Long outlined, the team hopes to both start and finish the season in a strong manner.
“Our team goals include coming back from our spring break training trip to Hilton Head with at least one win and qualifying for our conference tournament this season,” Long said. “More than qualifying for the MIAA tournament which is accomplished through a top-four finish, our goal is to win at least six of our eight conference games to earn a home game in the tournament.”
The Belles will embark on their season during their spring break trip from March 5 to March 13, when they will travel to Hilton Head, South Carolina, to take on Shenandoah, Elms and Bryn Mawr.