Belles battle, lose 2-0 to Thunder

Entering the game with a 0-5-3 record, the Saint Mary’s soccer team had a daunting task ahead of them. Trine University had made it to the NCAA tournament last year, and before their matchup with the Belles, had a 4-3-1 record. While the Belles were unable to come out on top, they battled with the Thunder and held them to only 2 goals throughout the match. 

At the start, Trine came out hot, and within the first three minutes of play, the Thunder had a shot on goal. Saint Mary’s was quick to respond and got their first shot less than a minute later, but it was saved by Trine goalkeeper Sophie Aschemeier. The Belles were able to hold off the Thunder offense for 14 minutes. But ultimately, with just over 31 minutes left in the half, Trine was able to find the back of the net. For the rest of the half, both teams would take turns on shots. But, after 45 minutes of play, the score remained 1-0 Trine. 

The second half started similarly to the first. At the start, the Belles held Trine to only two early shots. But, with 28 minutes in the second half, the Thunder scored again, bringing their lead up to 2-0. Only a few minutes later, the Belles had the ball within scoring range. A foul put the ball back in Thunder position. Although this did not lead to anything, it showed the Belles were competing.

“We were competing with them,” said head coach Farkhod Kurbonov, “Second half we had five freshmen, at some point six freshmen, and they are playing against a team that went to nationals last year and beat nationally ranked teams. We’re giving them a lot of problems.” 

Even with the 2-0 deficit, the Belles did not go down without a fight. Sophomore forward Mary Kaczynski broke away with the ball, but her shot went high. The ball was back in Thunder possession. Possession would go back and forth for the next few minutes, after a goal kick by sophomore goalkeeper Kara Stacey. Again, the Belles were in scoring position but lost the opportunity. 

“Kara did a fantastic job,” Kurbonov said about his keeper, “What [the goalies] do in practice is unreal. I’m just very happy with them.”

 With 19 minutes left in the half, Trine had another attempt on goal. This time, senior defender Sophia Fleming stopped the break away. 

It wasn’t until 10 minutes left in the half that the Belles would get another break away. Senior forward Jillian Bowen would weave through the Thunder defense, but ultimately, her shot was saved by their goalie. After this shot, a sense of urgency would pass over the Belles offense. Despite having possession for a good portion of the last 10 minutes, the Belles were unable to do anything with it. 

The Belles’ schedule does not get easier. Their next matchup is against No. 13 Calvin, who currently have an 9-0-0 record. Kurbonov is satisfied with the work his squad is doing and the direction they are headed.

“We’re adjusting, and we are a very young team. If the girls on the team are not freshmen, they are sophomores.” Kurbonov said, “I think we’re going in the right direction, not the result for today, but overall I am satisfied with the amount of work the girls put on the field.” 

If the Belles’ hope to be successful for the rest of their season, they must look to score. In nine games, Saint Mary’s has only found the back of the net five times, while they have given up a total of 15 goals.  

The Belles are on the road next to face off against the Calvin on Tuesday at 7 p.m.


Belles lose 2-0 battle to Anderson

Following a hard-fought 2-2 tie to Lake Forest last Saturday, the Belles Soccer team of Saint Mary’s took the field on Wednesday against the Anderson Ravens. The Belles were looking to notch their first win of the season against a Ravens team fresh off a 5-0 win vs. Asbury and a 2-2 tie to Huntington.

The first half began with the teams conservatively feeling each other out. Possession was evenly split amongst the sides, with no teams being able to convert their respective scoring chances. Sophomore forward Mary Kaczynski played a beautiful ball in the 10th minute that went unconverted by sophomore midfielder Grace Barresi. Kaczynski would go on to miss a key chance of her own just a minute later, with her one-time shot going just wide of the net. Senior forward Jillian Bowen and junior forward Katilyn Day provided vital roles, contributing to the flurry of first-half Belle chances.

The Belles continued to swing balls into the box with regularity, missing scoring chances by just inches. The first 45 minutes ended scoreless thanks to several key saves by sophomore goalkeeper Kara Stacey and stout backline work. Junior midfielder Lindsey Adent was crucial in preventing a Ravens goal as well.

The second half would begin to turn the tide of momentum back towards the Ravens, though. They tested Stacey in net and began to find holes in a valiant Belles defense. Saint Mary’s remained level for the first 30 minutes of the half.

They would finally break, however, in the 76th minute, with the Ravens exploiting an exhausted back line. Anderson would double their lead only three minutes later, riding their newfound adrenaline to overwhelm the Belles. Despite dangerous shots and brilliant flashes of play from Barresi and Kaczynski, the Belles were denied the back of the net.

The Belles finished with 11 shots, six on goal, compared to Anderson’s 16 total shots and seven on net. Anderson would also record more corner kicks. A 2-0 margin in the second half in that department showing how they were able to control possession as the game progressed.  Kaczynski had a fantastic game for the Belles, recording four shots. Stacey made five beautiful saves in the net as well.

The Belles return to action this Sunday at Oberlin at 3 p.m. They hope to record a big win before conference play begins.


Belles look for first season victory against Aurora

The Saint Mary’s Belles women’s soccer team will search for their first win of the nascent season Wednesday, in their road contest against the Aurora University Spartans. 

Last season, the Belles were 2-0 with six goals scored heading into Aurora, and they then continued their success with a convincing 2-0 victory. This year, they are 0-1-1, with just a single goal through two non-conference games.

The lack of production from a relatively young starting lineup is not for a lack of trying. However, the Belles have registered an alarming 23 shots on goal through their first two matches, an average of 11.5 per game. As a group, the team is shooting at 4.3% (1/23), a number the Belles will likely need to improve if they want a winning record. The slump also coincides with their dry stretch on corner kicks, as the Belles are 0/11 in total.

Saint Mary’s lone goal scorer right now is senior forward Jillian Bowen. She delivered a strike from 20 yards out in the minute 28 against Concordia University of Chicago, assisted by junior defender Holly Skrip.

On the other side, Aurora University will also be looking for its first win of the season after stumbling to their own 0-1-1 start. The Spartans have yet to muster a single goal in their first two games, losing 1-0 to North Central and tying North Park University 0-0. Their goalkeeper, Kelsey Deck, has been busy, making 18 saves and allowing just a single goal past her in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign.

Offensively, the Spartans will turn to senior midfielder Jessica Mirsky. Mirsky leads the club with three shots through two games, and she is the only player on the roster with multiple shots thus far.

The Spartans are led by two freshman forwards: Sydney Kranick and Emma Dyer. Together, they have more than 100 total minutes and have combined their stats for just two shots and one on goal.

Both the Saint Mary’s Belles and the Aurora Spartans will look to shed their early-season scoring woes at 8 p.m. Eastern kick off, as the sqauds search for their first win of the season.

Charlie Morris

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