State of the Belles: How Saint Mary’s athletics fared over fall break
Andrew McGuinness | Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Saint Mary’s athletics remained in action while students were away on break. Here’s a quick rundown of where each of the fall Belles’ squads stand as students return to campus.
The Belles closed out their regular season on Oct. 14 with a 28th-place finish out of 42 schools at the Augustana Interregional Invitational. The competition was stiff, with the meet featuring 10 teams ranked in the nation’s top-30 and 20 ranked within their respective USTFCCCA regions. Sure enough, No. 1 ranked University of Chicago won the competition with a team score of 48, with their own Evelyn Battleson-Gunkel leading the field with a time of 21:24.7.
Senior Amanda Tracy led the Belles with a 23:31.0 mark, finishing 76th out of just under 400 runners. Saint Mary’s will begin their postseason at the MIAA Championships at Three Fires Golf Club in Holland, Michigan on Oct. 28.
Saint Mary’s soccer didn’t get off to a strong start over break, falling 1-0 to Kalamazoo on Oct. 14. The Belles were outplayed in the second half before making a bit of a push in the late moments. The loss dropped the Belles to 0-3-1 in their last four games with three shutout defeats.
But that game served as a wake-up call for the Belles offense. Saint Mary’s scored five goals across their next two contests, both of which were victories. On Oct. 18, the Belles wrapped up their quick two-game road trip with a 2-1 victory at Olivet. The game could have been even more lopsided, with the Belles outshooting Olivet 24-6 and putting a whopping 15 on target. Hornets goalkeeper Sarah Willard delivered a spectacular effort to keep the match close. Junior midfielder Mary Kaczynski started the scoring, and a 51st-minute corner by senior midfielder Kaitlyn Day caromed off two Olivet defenders to give the Belles the lead for good.
The Belles kept the scoring rolling against Alma, although it required patience. Once again, Saint Mary’s controlled play, outshooting the Scots 16-12, including 7-3 in the first half. However, the match remained scoreless until a 60th-minute breakthrough by Alma’s Paige Moore. The Belles would solve the riddle of Scots goalkeeper Allison Bush just four minutes later. Junior forward Izzi Linus doubled her season goal total in a 15-minute span, with sophomore defender Izzy Sherman assisting on both. Freshman defender Grace Brown also notched an assist on the first goal. Day added an insurance marker with 5:20 left to put the game away.
The wins bring Saint Mary’s to 8-7-1 and 2-4-1 in conference play. The Belles conclude their regular season on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at home against Hope.
The Belles volleyball team was only in action twice during fall break. Saint Mary’s snapped a five-match losing streak on Oct. 13 with a 3-1 win over Trine. After the teams split the first two sets, the third set was a marathon that went the Belles way by a 30-28 score. Junior outside hitter Cali Allen, freshman middle hitter Caroline Carens and sophomore middle hitter Grace Braselton each had 12 kills in the win.
However, Saint Mary’s could not keep the momentum going, ending their three-game homestand with a tight 3-2 defeat to Alma. Saint Mary’s dominated the first and third set, allowing just 30 points combined. However, Alma kept the match alive by winning the fourth set, then held the Belles to just six points in the match-deciding fifth set.
The Belles now sit at 5-11 overall and 1-4 in MIAA play. The Belles have four matches left in their regular season. Next is a road match against Olivet at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.