SMC above .500 for first time in program history
Elizabeth Greason | Thursday, April 14, 2016
Saint Mary’s extended its winning streak and remained undefeated in MIAA action Tuesday evening when the Belles defeated Trine, 10-4.
Saint Mary’s (6-5, 3-0 MIAA) had strong momentum going into the game after dominating Olivet on Saturday, 20-0, in a record-setting performance for the program in terms of points scored and goals allowed. The Belles carried this momentum over, getting off to a good start against Trine, making the first offensive move when sophomore midfielder Clare Theisen, who has been one of the Belles’ main offensive weapons so far this season, scored the first goal of the game. According to Belles head coach Amy Long, Theisen had a very solid game and continues to be one of the Belles’ biggest assets.
“Clare Theisen had an outstanding game for us,” Long said. “She set a new team record for ground balls in a game with 10.”
The Thunder (0-7, 0-3 MIAA) were quickly able to even the score, but the Belles soon took charge. Junior captain and attack/midfielder Emilie Vanneste scored to regain the lead for the Belles. Her goal was quickly followed by freshman midfielder Kate Kelly’s 30th and 31st goals for the season.
After controlling the ball for much of the first period, the Belles closed out the first half with a 4-2 lead over the Thunder and the Belles’ control of the game only increased in the second period.
Junior captain and goalkeeper Shannon Weyer, who played the entirety of the sixty minutes for the third consecutive game, held the Thunder to only two additional goals in the second period.The La Grange Park, Illinois, native picked up seven saves over the course of the game. The Belles, by contrast, scored six points in the closing period.
Vanneste helped to round out the Belles’ scoring for the day to finish the game with two goals and Theisen scored four of the Belles’ six goals in the second period. She tallied up a total of five goals for the day and surpassed Kelly as the Belles’ leading scorer on the season. Kelly scored once more in the second period, giving her a total of 32 goals so far this year, while Theisen finished the game with 33 total goals.
The win over the Thunder was a key one for the Belles, as they are over the .500 mark for the first time, not only for the season, but for the first time in the young program’s history. The Belles had previously not had a winning record at any point over their first two-plus seasons. Long said she is very pleased but not at all surprised by her team’s success so far this season.
“It is great to be over the .500 mark on the year this far into our season,” Long said. “Being undefeated in conference after three games is an even better feeling, but we set both having a winning season and qualifying for our conference tournament as team goals this year. We are excited to see our hard work translating into wins on the field, but we are not surprised by what we have accomplished so far in conference play.”
The Belles’ next game will be played at home against Albion. This should be an especially important game for Saint Mary’s as it is currently tied with Hope (4-3, 3-0 MIAA) and the Britons (4-6, 3-0 MIAA) for first place in the MIAA standings. The Belles are one of only two MIAA teams with a winning record overall and could potentially take over first place outright with a win on Saturday. Long expects the Belles’ momentum to carry forward into the Albion game, but she also expects Albion to pose a definite obstacle, although she is confident her team can overcome it.
“We are focused on using the momentum from our past three wins as we prepare to take on the MIAA defending champions on Saturday,” Long said. “I expect Albion to be one of the best teams we’ve seen all year and I can’t wait to see our team rise to the challenge. This week at practice, we have been focusing on tightening up our defense, both in the critical scoring area and midfield as well as taking better shots. Albion has a solid goalie so it will be important that we take better shots than we did in our Trine game.”
Saint Mary’s and the Britons will face off Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be played at the lacrosse field at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend.