Belles Battle Past Brits in MIAA Semifinal
- The MIAA Semifinal victory for the Belles is the first post-season win for the team in program history.
- Erin Doyle led the Saint Mary's offense with four goals and four assists with a team-high six caused turnovers.
- Emily Kraker made 14 saves in goal for the Belles.
ALBION, Mich. - Less than a week after falling at Albion in the regular season finale, the Saint Mary's lacrosse team battled their way to a 13-12 win against the Brits in the MIAA Tournament Semifinal round on Wednesday evening.
Erin Doyle connected with Molly Stout as the Belles struck first with a goal almost three minutes into play. Albion responded with a goal nearly three minutes later to knot the game at 1-1. After a lot of back-and-forth play, the Brits took a 2-1 lead on a free position goal with 17:34 on the clock. The Belles took a timeout and came out of that break with a renewed drive. The defense blocked a shot in the critical scoring area, and Emily Kraker made a close-range save to keep Albion off the scoreboard. After a yellow card was whistled against Albion, the Belles capitalized on the player-up opportunity as Kendra Osinski fed a pass to Erin Doyle with Doyle finding the inside of the cage to make it 2-2.
The Brits came back with a goal in transition to regain a lead, but Raigan Althouse responded with a goal less than two minutes later to knot the score at 3-3. Kraker was huge between the pipes as the freshman made three consecutive saves in the span of a minute. The offense rewarded that effort as Doyle earned an assist on a goal by Osinski to put the Belles ahead 4-3. Doyle then won the next draw, and Kate Kelly found Clare Theisen for another quick passing play turned goal for Saint Mary's as the Belles edged ahead 5-3. Albion called a timeout to try to slow the momentum, and the Brits pulled back even with a pair of goals in the span of 1:29. Saint Mary's, however, came back with a momentum-shifting spurt to close out the final 3:30 of the opening half. Clare Theisen won the draw, and Doyle connected again with Osinski for a close-range goal to make it 6-5 in favor of the Belles. Theisen then came up with a big caused turnover and ground ball, and Molly Stout buried the transition goal for a 7-5 lead with 1:35 on the clock. Erin Doyle then caused a turnover on the next Albion possession, and Althouse garnered an assist on Doyle's second goal of the game as the Belles pulled ahead 8-5 with just over a minute left before halftime.
Albion opened the second half with a goal 4:05 into the period, but the Belles continued to find an answer on both ends of the field. The defense blocked another shot, and Clare Theisen wove through traffic on her way to an unassisted goal for an 9-6 Saint Mary's lead. Kate Kelly won the ensuing draw control, and Molly Stout connected a pass to Erin Doyle as Doyle sent home her third goal of the game to make it a 10-6 score. The Brits put the next goal on the scoreboard with 21:21 still remaining for a 10-7 score, but the Belles quickly responded as Doyle scored her fourth goal of the contest off of a pass from Kate Kelly with 20:54 on the clock for an 11-7 Saint Mary's lead.
The Brits tallied a goal just over a minute later, but the Belles continued to work hard on both ends of the field on a hot afternoon. Emily Kraker came up with a big save on a free position shot before smothering a shot on goal two and a half minutes later to keep the Belles in command of the lead. Clare Theisen then drew a free position attempt, and the senior calmly changed directions before finishing her third goal of the game to give Saint Mary's a 12-8 edge with 15:12 on the clock. Albion tallied a free position goal of their own almost two minutes later, but the defense stayed locked in for Saint Mary's. Kraker had a pair of saves before the defense made another stop. Erin Doyle collected a ground ball and found Kate Kelly open near the left post in transition. Kelly buried the shot from just outside of the goal circle to put the Belles ahead 13-9 with 9:03 on the clock.
Both goalies came up with saves for their respective sides as the clock moved below the five minute mark. The Brits broke through with a goal to make it 13-10 with four minutes to play. Kraker made yet another save - this time on a fast-paced shot from the left side of the critical scoring area - to keep the Belles ahead. A turnover on the next Saint Mary's possession yielded a goal on the other end for Albion as the Brits made a late push. Albion came up with another big play and scored a goal with 39 seconds remaining to make it a one-goal game at 13-12. Kate Kelly, however, won the ensuing draw control and the Belles held possession for the final 30 seconds of play to take the hard-fought 13-12 win.
The MIAA Semifinal victory for the Belles is the first post-season win for the team in program history. It is the second consecutive appearance for Saint Mary's in the top-four team MIAA Tournament. The Belles will be making their first MIAA Tournament Championship appearance as a result of the win.
Erin Doyle led the Saint Mary's offense with four goals and four assists with a team-high six caused turnovers. Clare Theisen added three goals, three draw controls, and a game-high eight ground balls. Kendra Osinski and Molly Stout each had two goals and an assist. Kate Kelly registered a goal, two assists, three caused turnovers, and six draw controls. Raigan Althouse scored a goal and tallied an assist. Emily Kraker made 14 saves in goal for the Belles.
The Belles (12-5) will travel to Calvin to square off against the Knights for the MIAA Tournament Championship on Saturday. The start time is still to be determined.