Belles Comeback Stopped Short by Flying Dutch
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Trailing 10-6 in the second half, the Saint Mary's lacrosse team scored four straight goals to tie the game at 10-10. The comeback, however, was not to be as visiting Hope ended the game with four goals of their own for the 14-10 conference decision.
In what proved to be a back-and-forth, evenly matched contest, neither team scored more than two consecutive goals during the first half. Hope started the game by striking twice in the first four minutes, but the Belles made it a 2-1 game on a free position goal by Aubrey Golembieski. Four minutes later, Sarah Neeser came up the response to the Flying Dutch with a free position goal of her own to make it a 3-2 game in favor of Hope.
The Flying Dutch pulled ahead 5-2, but the Belles battled their way right back in to contention with a goal by Emilie Vanneste on a free position opportunity midway through the half. The teams traded goals over the next 12 minutes as Golembieski added another free position goal as well as a goal off a pass down the middle of the zone by Caleigh Gainey to edge the Belles within two at 7-5 with just under three minutes remaining.
Saint Mary's closed out the half by swinging the momentum even more in their favor after Vanneste added her second goal of the half with 1:41 left on the clock to make it a 7-6 game still in favor of the Flying Dutch.
In a final push before the halftime whistle, Hope quickly went on the transition in the final half minute of play. Shannon Weyer came up with a big save with nine seconds remaining to keep the score set at 7-6 as play moved to the second half.
The Flying Dutch opened the second period with three goals over the first 10 minutes of play to take their largest lead of the game at 10-6, but the Belles once again proved that they were ready to fight their way back into the game.
Hanna Makowski won the next draw control, and the Belles took little time in taking advantage of the offensive possession. Just 40 seconds after Hope took the 10-6 lead, Makowski found Clare Theisen, who sent home a goal from close range to make it 10-7.
Again, the Belles won the draw control and kept the pressure dialed up. This time, Makowski and Theisen traded roles as Makowski was on the receiving end of a solid pass from Theisen before scoring from well inside the 8-meter area to continue to shift the momentum in the Belles' favor.
Less than four minutes later, a big team effort turned defense into offense for Saint Mary's. Clare Theisen checked the ball loose near the Belles' offensive restraining line, Maria Roberts picked up the ground ball, and Aubrey Golembieski scored all within a matter of 15 seconds to pull the Belles within a goal of the Flying Dutch while forcing Hope into taking a timeout.
Saint Mary's won their fourth consecutive draw just moments later, but it was a key save by Shannon Weyer that was the starting point for the offense. After Weyer's stop, the Belles effectively passed the ball and had a successful clear before Golembieski sent home her fifth goal of the game to knot the game at 10-10 with 12:03 remaining in the contest.
The Flying Dutch, however, were able to capitalize on a pair of turnovers to regain a 12-10 lead. After a pair of lengthy offensive possessions, Hope pushed their advantage back to four goals at 14-10 with less than two minutes left in the contest as the comeback effort fell short for the Belles.
Almost every major statistical category was nearly even at the final whistle. The Belles out-shot the Flying Dutch 33-32 and held a 43-42 edge on ground balls. Saint Mary's won 14 draws to Hope's 12, and the Belles had one less turnover (34) than the Flying Dutch (33).
Aubrey Golembieski led all players with five goals and seven ground balls. Emilie Vanneste added two goals and six ground balls. Hanna Makowski and Clare Theisen each had a goal and an assist while Theisen led the Belles with five draw controls. Sarah Nesser added a goal of her own.
Katlynn Dee had five caused turnovers, Caleigh Gainey picked up an assist and six ground balls, and Shannon Weyer had a season-high 13 saves in goal to help pace the defensive efforts.
The Belles (4-5, 0-1 MIAA) continue their big stretch of games in a week and a half span when they travel to Adrian on Friday, April 3 for a noon MIAA contest against the Bulldogs.