Belles Fall in Heartbreaker to Hornets
- Clare Theisen led the Belles with four goals.
- Lauren Telford added two goals.
- Kate Kelly had a goal and an assist.
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Trailing 5-2 at halftime, the Saint Mary's lacrosse team nearly staged a strong second-half comeback, but the Belles fell one goal short in an 8-7 final against Kalamazoo.
The Belles opened the game with strong defense to limit the Hornets' offense early going. Cara Givens came up with back to back saves before Saint Mary's was able to get their first look at goal in the seventh minute of play. Hanna Makowski had a shot turned aside. The Hornets then broke through less than a minute later with the first goal of the game with 22:41 on the clock.
The defense continued to keep the Belles right in the thick of things while the offense had a handful of shots on goal stopped at the other end of the field. Kalamazoo doubled their lead with 12:38 with a transition goal for the 2-0 advantage. The Belles won the ensuing draw control and fought to keep the possession alive. That prolonged presence in the offensive end led to Clare Theisen breaking through for the first Saint Mary's goal of the game with 10:10 remaining before halftime.
The Hornets came up with a goal to maintain the lead, but Theisen sent home a free position goal a short time later to make it 3-2 with just over seven minutes left in the first half. Kalamazoo, however, closed out the half with a pair of strikes to take a 5-2 lead into the break.
Theisen got the Belles right on the scoreboard in the second half. A successful clear turned into a the sophomore's third goal of the game with 27:45 on the clock. Theisen then caused a turnover, picked up the ground ball, and made it a one-goal game at 5-4 with Kate Kelly picking up the assist with 24:28.
The momentum was cut almost immediately as the Hornets regained a two-goal cushion just over a minute later. Saint Mary's successfully killed off a Kalamazoo extra-player opportunity to keep close. It had appeared that the Belles cut within a goal yet again, but Kate Kelly had a goal waved off for a dangerous follow through with 17 minutes to go. Kalamazoo used that extra-player opportunity to net a goal for a 7-4 lead with 16:37 left to play.
Lauren Telford broke through with her first goal of the game just 33 seconds later, but the Hornets picked up a free position goal to make it 8-5.
The game and the Belles efforts were far from finished. Kate Kelly won the next draw, and Kelly and Katlynn Dee registered ground balls on the way to getting the ball back into the offensive zone after a pair of turnovers. Dee's ground ball led to a good clear before Theisen drew a free position shot. Her attempt went wide, but the Belles kept the possession alive, resulting in Kate Kelly's first goal of the game with 13:07 remaining. Hanna Makowski won the next draw, and Molly Stout had a shot turned aside quickly as the Belles looked to keep the comeback alive. Rachael Leonard picked up a ground ball to keep the possession going, and Lauren Telford bounced home her second goal of the game to make it a one-goal game with 11:47 to play.
Saint Mary's had a handful of looks at the potential game-tying goal. Emilie Vanneste had a shot go high, Hanna Makowski saw an effort pushed aside, and Kate Kelly beat the goalie only to have her shot bounce off the post all in quick succession. Makwoski added another shot on goal before Vanneste had two shots stopped as the comeback ran out of time.
The Belles out-shot Kalamazoo 27-16 in the game and 16-4 in just the second half. Saint Mary's also posted more ground balls (26) than Kalamazoo (21) and had fewer turnovers (22) than the Hornets (34).
Clare Theisen led the Belles with four goals and five ground balls. Lauren Telford tallied two goals, and Kate Kelly had a goal, an assist, and two draw controls.
The Belles (8-8, 4-3 MIAA) travel to Hope on Saturday, April 30 for a noon contest against the Flying Dutch. The Belles need a win to keep their hopes of a berth in the MIAA Tournament alive.