Saint Mary’s squad splits weekend at Beloit, Carthage
Mannion McGinley | Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Saint Mary’s lacrosse maintained their winning record on the season but split the weekend 1-1 as they took on Beloit and Carthage. The Belles took down the Buccaneers 13-2 on Friday but couldn’t keep that momentum on Saturday falling 18-6 to the Firebirds.
The Belles opened the season 2-1 after this weekend, having beaten Concordia Chicago on Feb. 26. Co-captain senior attack Erin Dotson discussed the start of the season and how she felt to be back on the field, especially with a large crew of last year’s seniors gone.
“We’ve been working really hard in the off-season and it’s honestly been a work in progress since last year, just trying to get back to where we were, get back to the MIAA tournament, hopefully, get to the NCAA tournament. So, being able to show up and show out with what we have been working on has been really great and to get the freshmen adapted…overall, it’s just been a lot of fun and we all really missed being out there,” she said.
Dotson and junior attack Reese Bauer led the team in assists on Friday both with three on top of a goal of their own. Dotson and Bauer often found freshman Alyssa Grant and junior attack Julia Gorski but the Belles’ leading scorer on the day was sophomore midfielder Valentina Rubio with five goals and two assists. Rubio changed positions this year after the senior squad left, from defender to midfielder and was able to succeed early with help from her teammates.
“In that moment, it felt really awesome because I was mostly defense last year,” Valentina said. “So being able to now become a middie and have that celebration with my team when scoring felt pretty — just really amazing… but most of them were assisted by my teammates because we just were working together so I thought it was just amazing to be able to have that celebration with them.”
The Belles scored more than half their goals on the day in the first quarter, netting seven but only allowing one from Beloit. Through the second and third, Saint Mary’s scored five more times: two unassisted from Grant and three from Rubio (two of which were assisted by Bauer). Early in the fourth, the Belles allowed one more Buccaneers goal but Rubio would return the favor and combined again with Bauer to drain one last goal.
Rubio said she looked up to several players in shifting her position but especially Dotson, senior midfielder Molly Mullett and graduate student midfielder Lindsey Herdsman.
“Especially Lindsey, coming into a collegiate sport on defense. She really helped me develop as a player in just moving with the ball and then with Erin Dotson and Molly Mullett, they really helped me come into an offensive perspective of having that lax IQ including how to pass the ball, how to create plays off a pass, which has been really amazing… and they just have also shown me what it’s like to be a student-athlete and to care about your team,” she said.
In terms of how to be a midfielder, Rubio said it was a clear change she had to make but not necessarily always an easy one.
“Changing the training has definitely been a lot more running than just being on defense,” she said. “But I’ve been preparing for it just by adding more runs to my workout and stuff. And I’m going into this role because we lost a lot of good middies last year… I’ve been trying to keep that role that we had going on last year of having a good middies run the ball and stuff so it’s been hard definitely but I’m super excited to see what this season has to offer for me in this new position.”
Gorski discussed how exciting it was to see Rubio, among the other underclassmen succeed in the first game this weekend.
“It’s fun to see them being able to step up and kind of get more involved in the plays especially after losing so many really good seniors. It’s really cool to see even just in a year, their success. And it’s fun to try some new things on offense and be productive on that for sure,” she said.
The second game on the weekend didn’t see as much scoring for the Belles and ultimately, they couldn’t come away with the win.
“Carthage was our first real challenge of the season,” Dotson said. “And I think we learned what we need to work on and what future playbooks we’ll see, especially when we head into spring break.”
Saint Mary’s couldn’t score early. They wouldn’t score in the first and despite an unassisted goal from Gorski in the second, the Belles couldn’t pick up momentum. They remained at one goal through the half. Dotson scored her own unassisted in the third as well. The fourth quarter saw an uptick in Saint Mary’s goals. The Belles outscored the Firebirds 4-3 in the fourth but it wasn’t enough to make up for the earlier unanswered Carthage goals, leaving the final tally 18-6. After the weekend, Dotson reflected on her place on the team, especially her role as a captain.
“I think it’s just being a voice for people and being someone that they can go to and talk about stuff with, that we can have caring conversations together,” she said. “And just really make sure that we understand each other on a holistic personal lover level, rather than just an athlete level or even a student level but as a whole individual.”
After the loss, Dotson had clear goals, turning to the rest of the season and what the Belles needed to do to return to MIAA and NCAA tournaments.
“Going forward I’d love to get more people involved,” she said. “I’ve always believed in being a team player. The goals never really mattered to me, it’s all personal effort. The assists are what mattered to me, the draw controls, really just trying to get that team win… get everyone involved and make sure everyone’s succeeding and doing their position in the play or on the team so we can have a win together and not individually.”
Gorski also said future success comes with working together and she’s excited with what she sees when they do work together.
“Definitely just to keep working as a team. I think we have a lot of success when we just all work together and not focus so much individually. So that’s exciting,” she said.
The Belles will get a chance to continue working together Sunday, March 12 at 4 p.m. ET, against Whittier. The Poets are 2-2 so far this season and will pose another away challenge for the Belles.