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Unbeaten Belles frustrate Aurora, look to stay hot against Goshen

| Friday, September 10, 2021

Saint Mary’s soccer continued their hot start to the season with a 2-0 victory over the Aurora Spartans. Senior forward Rose Stackhouse notched two goals, and freshman goalkeeper Kara Stacey continued a dazzling start to her collegiate career with a three-save shutout. The Belles move to 3-0 on the season, outscoring opponents 7-2 on the year, ahead of a Friday night clash with Goshen.

For Saint Mary’s, the key has been defensive composure and efficient offense. On Wednesday, the Belles put six of their 11 shots on frame, converting two of them. Freshman forward Izzie Linus put a pair of shots on goal, while sophomore defender Caroline O’Keefe also created some offensive chances for Saint Mary’s. Linus put the early pressure on Aurora on Wednesday, forcing keeper Kelsey Deck into a pair of diving saves in the first ten minutes. However, it was only in the 18th minute that the Belles did get on the board. Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Adent connected with senior midfielder Sophie Bubnar on a pass. Bubnar redirected it to Stackhouse who beat her defender and whistled a shot past Deck for the game’s first score. 

The Belles applied continuous pressure throughout the first half, limiting Aurora’s own chances while constantly creating their own. O’Keefe, Stackhouse, and junior forward Jillian Bowen linked up with some beautiful combination play but were thwarted by the Aurora backline. However, for all the near misses, it only took a few minutes of play in the second half for Saint Mary’s to finally extend their advantage. This time, no combination play was needed, as Stackhouse received a free kick opportunity from about 20 yards out. The senior stepped up and fired a rocket into the upper 90 on the left side for her 26th career goal. It moved her into a tie for fifth all-time in program history. 

That advantage was more than enough for the Belles’ strong defense. The stingy effort was led by impressive work from freshman defender Syden Sharbek, sophomore defenders Emily Mikitka and Molly McMann and senior defensemen Lindsey Herdman and Becca Stella. On the rare occasion that shots got through, Stacey was there for the save, collecting the needed three for the shutout. It was the best performance of her young career, and she’ll look to continue the momentum versus Goshen. 

The Maple Leafs are far from an easy opponent, however. They’ve run up a 3-1 record thus far in 2021, outscoring opponents 10-1. Both the Belles and Maple Leafs have been very solid on both sides of the ball, and Goshen provides a great measuring stick game for Saint Mary’s. They’ve scored with ease so far this season, getting four goals from Stackhouse, a pair from Bowen and one from Skarbek. The combination of seasoned veterans and young talent has made the Belles an exciting team to watch, and they’ll have to be on point against Goshen. The Maple Leafs have had seven different players notch goals in 2021, so the attack will come from all sides. Paige Renshaw, Amy Drew and Beatriz Meneghin all have two goals apiece. Defensively, opponents have mustered just 2.5 shots per game on Goshen, with Makiah McCain saving nine of her ten opportunities. 

Excitement should be building around the hot start of this Belles’ soccer team — and they’ll get a chance to live up to some of the hype with a primetime home clash against a dangerous opponent under Friday night lights. Kickoff is at 7 pm at Purcell Athletic Fields.


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