Belles make a statement in season opener, winning 15-6
Mannion McGinley | Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Saint Mary’s lacrosse ran away with a win in their first matchup of the season against Concordia Chicago. While the Belles wouldn’t score first, they ultimately made their presence known in Concordia Stadium, taking down the Cougars 15-6.
The Belles took control of the ball first, courtesy of senior midfielder Molly Mullett. But, a back-and-forth in the first five minutes — including saves from sophomore goalie Emma Zmudzinski and Ryan McGee for the Belles and Cougars respectively — came to an end with a Concordia goal.
Seconds after that though, Mullett would take the ball for the Belles again, down into the Cougars’ half. Although McGee made another save, a foul from Concordia gave Mullett an opportunity to score. Barely 20 seconds had passed since the Belles went down but Mullett drained the equalizer and the Belles wouldn’t fall behind again for the rest of the game.
The first quarter saw five more Belles goals. Junior attack Julia Gorski snagged one a minute after Mullett off an assist from sophomore attack Christiana Singler. With just under eight left in the first, senior midfielder Erin Dotson would score twice, making her the first Belle to notch more than one goal on the season. Gorski followed up with a second of her own to bring the Belles to five, leaving 6:38 on the clock. After that, the Cougars broke up the Belles’ momentum. It would be three minutes before the Belles scored again but Mullett found herself in the two-score column as well before the quarter-end.
Further attempting to reclaim some of the momentum, the Cougars scored again with only a minute left in the first. After that, they claimed the draw control for the first time in the game but couldn’t do anything with it before the quarter ended. The Cougars would only win the draw four times on the night. Dotson and Mullett were always there, with help from Singler and freshman Alyssa Grant.
Concordia kept fighting though to start the second and scored first again. When it looked like the Cougars might be mounting a comeback, sophomore Paige Lyons and Dotson drilled two more back-to-back goals into McGee’s net. A 6-3 scoreline became 8-3 before the second minute of the second quarter was up.
From there the scoring lulled, Concordia controlled the ground balls in this stretch but couldn’t maintain possession long. Dotson would be first to break the brief scoring drought, snagging her fourth and final on the night.
Cougars Kelli Pietrowski and Rylee Orenstein mounted another surge for Concordia to put them within five (9-5) but it didn’t last long. Another quick goal from Mullett set the Cougars back again though and the score stayed 10-5 through the half.
Coming out of the half, Mullett won the draw again. When two shots from Dotson didn’t go, the Belles turned to graduate student midfielder Lindsey Herdsman who claimed her first of the season. Singler also drained her first of the season in the third with four minutes left. Mullett would put one more in the back of the net for the Belles before the quarter was out. Now up 13-5, the Belles closed the quarter without allowing the Cougars to score.
The fourth quarter remained slower than the first half had been. Early Saint Mary’s fouls allowed Concordia two free position shots but Zmudzinski stepped up to make both saves. She had four saves on the day and several successful clears.
Gorski snagged her third goal of the day after Mullett picked up a ground ball and started the play. Grant found Gorski who snuck the ball in. Concordia would answer once more after that to make the score 14-6 but Grant had the opportunity to ice the game. A free position goal became her first of the season.
The Belles opened the season with a statement win but their first doubleheader weekend of the season awaits. Saint Mary’s will take on Beloit and Carthage this Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m. and 2 p.m. ET respectively.