Belles falter down the stretch in 3-2 loss to Anderson
Matthew Crow | Friday, September 15, 2023
For the first 80 minutes of their game on Wednesday, Saint Mary’s soccer appeared to be on track for a big non-conference win on the road against Anderson. After being held scoreless in their previous outing, the Belles tallied a pair of first-half goals. They were also able to blank the Ravens deep into the second half.
Soccer games are played in 90 minutes, though. It was during the final 10 minutes that a potential 2-0 Saint Mary’s win suddenly turned into a 3-2 defeat.
The Belles were strong out of the gate and played a dominant first half. They had complete control of possession, outshooting Anderson 8-1 in the period and earning seven corner kicks compared to none for the Ravens. Saint Mary’s was not able to turn their consistent scoring chances into a shot on goal in the early stages of an action-packed half but managed to break through in the 21st minute.
Earning a free kick in Anderson’s territory, the Belles lofted a pass toward a swarm of players in the box. The ball was deflected and bounced toward the left side of the field, where Saint Mary’s freshman midfielder Marina C. Vasconcelos chased it down before firing a low shot past the Ravens’ keeper. The goal was the first of her college career, and snapped the Belles’ scoring drought of more than 160 minutes.
Saint Mary’s was not content to take the 1-0 advantage into halftime, though. They continued to apply pressure on Anderson’s back line in search of an opportunity to double their lead. That pressure eventually forced the Ravens into a costly mistake, as the Belles earned a penalty kick in the final minutes of the period. Junior forward Izzi Linus put the ball in the back of the net to make the score 2-0 at halftime.
The second half would not be as smooth for Saint Mary’s. They struggled to replicate the offensive rhythm they had during the first 45 minutes. Instead, it was Anderson who began to control the flow of the game. The Ravens attempted 11 shots in the second half, while the Belles managed five, a reversal of the first period.
Despite this, Anderson remained unable to get on the scoreboard. Saint Mary’s deployed a bend-but-don’t-break defensive mentality in hopes of keeping a clean sheet until the final whistle. With less than 10 minutes remaining, still staring down a two-goal deficit, the Ravens finally opened the floodgates.
Anderson attempted a long shot that was deflected at close range. St. Mary’s sophomore goalie Caroline Miklavcic could not corral the ball, and the Ravens’ Kyndall Ferguson was first to react, scoring off the rebound. Less than 30 seconds later, Anderson scored again. Controlling the ball in transition, Lauren Brown deftly maneuvered around a Belles defender and found the bottom right corner of the net to tie the game.
Having seen their seemingly safe lead slip away in a matter of seconds, Saint Mary’s attempted to regroup. They knew that they could hold on for a draw if they could stop the bleeding in the final minutes. But with less than 40 seconds left on the clock, Anderson completed their comeback. The Ravens earned a free kick just outside of the box, and Bekah Blair scored with a perfectly placed shot to make the final score 3-2 in Anderson’s favor.
With the last-second loss, the Belles fall to 1-3 on the season. They will not have to spend much time stewing on their disappointment, though. Saint Mary’s will look to get back on track on the road against Lake Forest on Friday at 5:30 p.m.