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Belles shutout in season finale vs. Hope

Saint Mary’s soccer concluded its season Wednesday night with a 5-0 loss on the road against Hope. The game was scoreless for nearly the entire first half. But the Flying Dutch attack quickly came alive to earn a dominant win. For Saint Mary’s, the loss was their ninth in a row as they finished the season 0-13-3 (0-8 MIAA).

The Belles entered the game coming off of a heartbreaking 3-2 loss against Alma during which they led 2-1 before ceding consecutive goals in the game’s final minutes. The two goals scored by Saint Mary’s matched a season high and snapped a three-game scoreless streak.

Hope (9-4-2, 5-2-1 MIAA) was aggressive from the opening kickoff and never let up. The Dutch compiled sixteen shots on goal over the course of the game compared to just three for Saint Mary’s. The Dutch had several chances to score in the opening minutes. But they were stymied by stellar sophomore Belles goalie Riley Lindsey, who recorded eleven saves on the day.

Saint Mary’s spent most of the period defending in its own half of the field but had a scoring opportunity after earning a free kick in the 23rd minute. Freshman defender Abaigeal Patnode found senior forward Jillian Bowen inside the box. But Bowen’s shot attempt went just wide of the goal.

In the closing minutes of the first half, Hope broke into the scoring column for the first time. A Dutch shot attempt was saved by Lindsey but bounced back out to Hope’s Madelyn St. John, who found the back of the net for her first career goal. That seemed to open the floodgates for Hope, and they would continue to score in quick succession. Just before halftime, Hope’s Lauren Ellinger scored to double the Dutch advantage.

The Belles came out of the break looking to attack and created several scoring chances in the opening minutes. However, their inability to convert left the door open for Hope to continue building their lead. And the Dutch took full advantage. In the 53rd minute, a goal from Hope’s Natalie Hammer extended the lead to three. With the Belles on their heels, Hammer added another goal less than two minutes later to make the score 4-0.

Hope kept their foot on the gas pedal with the game seemingly in hand. Less than ten minutes later, St. John scored her second goal of the day to put Hope ahead by five. Freshman forward Hayley Flynn tallied her third assist, tying Hope’s single-game school record.

Facing a large deficit, the Belles found some of their best-attacking play in the game’s late stages. With under ten minutes to play, a pass in Dutch territory found Bowen with room to operate but was ruled offside. In the 86th minute, freshman defender Izzy Sherman received a pass near the goal after another well-executed Saint Mary’s free kick. But a save by Hope goaltender Parker Hutchinson preserved the shutout.

The defeat ended what was a disappointing season for Saint Mary’s. The team did not qualify for the MIAA Conference tournament and took a significant step back from last year’s 8-9 record.

Despite this, the outlook remains bright for the Belles. Even in losing efforts, a young Saint Mary’s team fought hard in nearly every game they played. They are primed for major improvement next season as they return a majority of their roster, which only has four seniors. With a more experienced and veteran lineup, the Belles will carry the lessons learned from this season into the next one as they look to compete for a postseason berth.

Contact Matthew Crow at mcrow@nd.edu.

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