Belles post lowest score in five years to end fall season on high note
St. Mary’s placed third on the first day of its last tournament of the fall season this past weekend, but made a huge turnaround Saturday when it posted its lowest score in five years (316) to win the final 18-hole round of the season.
Friday resulted in a 327 for the Belles, putting them in third place behind Hope (299) and Olivet (323). They finished two strokes in front of fourth place Trine.
Senior captain Ali Mahoney had the best score for Saint Mary’s with an 80, positioning her eighth overall. Freshman Lauren Read and senior Courtney Carlson were not far behind with an 82 to tie for 15th overall.
The team, with a score of 316, ended ahead of Hope (320) and Alma (335). Mahoney again earned the lowest score of the day with a 2-over-par 74.
MIAA awards were announced at the completion of the event: sophomore Taylor Kehoe and Read both secured spots on the All-MIAA First Team, while Mahoney and Carlson each obtained a place on the Second Team.
Hope seized the MIAA Championship and Saint Mary’s wound up in second place in the final standings.
The Belles kick off their 2017 spring season during spring break. The Saint Mary’s team, along with the Hope squad, will host the 2017 MIAA Automatic Qualifier in April, affording the winning team the opportunity to advance to the NCAA Championship.
Saint Mary’s tennis topped off their fall season with a 5-4 victory over Judson on Friday night.
The Belles went 2-1 in doubles competition: the pair of sophomore Monica Davy and senior Sam Setterblad, and the pair of senior Kaity Venters and sophomore Abbi Fleming each pulled out 8-6 victories, while freshman Meaghan Flynn and junior Kelsey Kopf were unable to do the same.
The squad went 3-3 in singles matches. Kopf had a strong 6-2, 6-2 win, and Davy made a third set comeback from 7-5 to 10-7. The third Saint Mary’s singles winner was Flynn, who came out on top after a hard-fought 7-6, 6-4 match.
Kopf said she was pleased overall with the win.
“Winning our match against Judson last Friday was a great end to our fall season,” she said. “Some of the matches were a lot closer than we might have expected, but we fought through it and ended with a win.”
The Belles’ spring season begins in February and continues through May.
“This match and our other matches earlier in the fall give us a good idea of things we should work on and what we can expect in the spring,” Kopf said. “Our team this year is the strongest I’ve seen it since my time at Saint Mary’s, and we are hoping to work hard in the off-season to prepare for our main season second semester.”
The Belles earned a win in conference play before suffering an out-of-conference defeat Saturday, as they split a pair of games with Adrian and Siena Heights.
In a back-and-forth opening encounter with Adrian, the Bulldogs held a narrow lead over the Belles (10-11) throughout the first set, eventually winning it 25-21. The Belles struck back, though, racing to a 9-3 lead and holding on to tie the game with a 25-19 second set.
Adrian gained the advantage again, however, building an 18-11 lead in the third set, which they eventually won 25-19. Needing to win the fourth, the Belles found themselves down 23-22, but took the next three points to level the game once again.
The decisive fifth set remained close, with both teams having a chance of victory at 12-12, but it was Saint Mary’s who took the final three points of the match to win 3-2 and move to 6-3 in MIAA play.
After the long opening encounter, however, Saint Mary’s struggled in its second match of the day. The Belles built a strong 16-10 lead, but Siena Heights closed the gap and won the final three points of the set to take the lead.
The second set was close again, with the Belles having two set points leading 24-22, but once again, the Saints took control late in the set and came back to win, 27-25. The Belles did not hold a late lead in the third set of the match, as the Saints took a 16-12 lead and held on to it to win, 25-20.
The Belles will play Calvin at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Saint Mary’s lost another MIAA encounter Friday, as Olivet defeated the Belles 5-0.
The Belles (1-11, 0-10 MIAA) were under pressure early on, with two Comets shots in the opening two minutes. Within four minutes, Olivet was on the scoresheet, thanks to a close-range finish.
A barrage of Comets shots followed, with freshman goalkeeper Thallia Robles helping to keep the score at 1-0 through the first half hour. In the 10 minutes before halftime, though, two more goals went past her and into the Belles’ net, leaving Saint Mary’s three goals behind headed into the break.
The Belles limited the Comets’ chances early in the second half, but just beyond the hour mark, Saint Mary’s conceded a fourth goal with a powerful finish from just inside the box. Five minutes later, a goal from the edge of the box for the Comets made the score 5-0, which would prove to be the final result.
The Belles had two late chances to get on the scoresheet, but neither were successful. First, senior defender Emily Rompola shot wide of the post, and then freshman defender Callie Doyle also fired a shot wide.
The Belles will play Kalamazoo on Wednesday at Saint Mary’s at 4 p.m.