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Belles soccer battles but falls to No. 9 Calvin Knights

The Saint Mary’s Belles’ soccer team fought hard, but ultimately fell 4-0 against the No. 9 ranked Calvin Knights on Tuesday.  

Within the first two minutes of the game, Calvin had a shot on goal, however it would miss left. A little over two minutes later, the Knights would have another shot on goal and this time, Belles’ sophomore goalkeeper Kara Stacey would save it. 

However, the Belles’ would not be able to hold back the Knights for much longer, and within the sixth minute of the game Calvin player Lindsey Houtsma would find the back of the net, setting the Belles back 1-0. 

Saint Mary’s would not allow for a complete Knight takeover, and for a stretch of time the Belles were able to maintain possession. However, they were unable to capitalize on an opportunity. In the eighteenth minute, Mia Judd capitalized on a corner kick by  Tatum Goodling to bring the Calvin lead 2-0.

The Belles would have the ball in scoring range multiple times throughout the match, however they were unable to ever find the back of the net. 

While their offensive side was weak, the Belles were able to keep up on the defensive end of the field. Within the thirty-third minute of the half, the Knights had another breakaway opportunity. However, freshman defender Lauren Ryan was able to stop it before the Knights had another scoring play. 

Possession would then return to the Belles, which would give senior forward Jillian Bowen a corner kick. While she was able to get it into the middle of the box, the Belles would prove unsuccessful again. 

While Saint Mary’s would have multiple scoring opportunities and hold possession for a decent portion of the remaining ten minutes, the halftime score sat at 2-0 Knights. 

The Belles’ defense came out hot in the second half. But again, they were only able to hold off the Knights for so long. By minute 58, Calvin had scored, increasing their lead 3-0. The Knights would have another scoring opportunity a few minutes later — this time, Stacey stopped the ball. Again, three minutes later, Stacey made another save to keep the score 3-0. 

The fourth and final goal for the Knights would come in minute 74. While the Belles then had a scoring chance, again they were unable to finish it. The Knights would end the game with a 4-0 advantage. 

After their loss to Trine, head coach Farkhod Kurbonov said, “The score is gonna get out of control.” But the Belles were able to keep the nationally-ranked team to only four goals. 

This is even more impressive when one accounts for the fact that the Knights had 27 shots to the Belles’ three. Stacey was also able to match her career high of 11 saves for the Belles, keeping them from a blowout loss. 

The Belles will return home to play Adrian on Saturday, Oct. 8. Saint Mary’s has played Adrian College practically every year since 1998 (excluding 2009 and 2020). At the moment, the Bulldogs have the advantage with 19 wins to Saint Mary’s 16. However, at home the Belles have won 9-8. The Bulldogs currently have a 5-4-2 schedule on the season. But the Belles will look to put a win to their record.

Kickoff begins at 2 p.m. EST. 

Contact Olivia Schatz at oschatz@nd.edu

Categories
Sports

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.