The Saint Mary’s lacrosse team grew by leaps and bounds in its second year as a varsity program, but even more growth and higher expectations will be in sight for the Belles moving forward. The team improved in nearly every statistical category from 2014 to 2015 while more than tripling their win total.
To reach even higher levels of success in 2016, the Belles will look toward the experience and leadership of a large core of returning players. Among that group are Katlynn Dee ’17, Emilie Vanneste ’17, and Clare Theisen ’18. The three were among the top six players in the MIAA last season in caused turnovers as the Belles led the conference in total caused turnovers for the 2015 season. Vanneste and Theisen also had a big impact at the other end of the field as the pair finished in the top 20 among conference players in scoring a year ago. At the conclusion of the season, Dee and Vanneste became the program’s first All-MIAA selections as both were named Second Team All-MIAA.
The Belles return more than a dozen players from last season’s squad, and twelve of those returners appeared in at least 13 games a year ago. Hanna Makowski ’18 and Mary Grace Heller ’18 were key contributors on both ends of the field in 2015, and both will be looked toward to help supply offense in 2016. Makowski was tied for the team lead in assists with nine, and Heller averaged a point per game and picked up nearly 30 ground balls in 10 games during her rookie season. Defensively, the Belles look to be even more solid than a season ago. In addition to Dee’s backfield leadership, most of the team’s defense returns to the field this year.
Both ends of the field will have even more depth than a year ago with six newcomers all vying for playing time in 2016. That depth is key to the team surpassing the expectations of those only outside of the program as the Saint Mary’s side knows it is capable of contending in the MIAA this spring. The Belles were picked to finish seventh in the MIAA Coaches Preseason Poll, but the team aims to finish higher than that pick just as they have in each of their first two seasons.
The Belles open their season with three games in Hilton Head, South Carolina over their spring break. The team returns north and competes at Concordia-Chicago and Ohio Northern before hosting Elmhurst on March 22. The MIAA slate of competition begins on Wednesday, April 6 when the Belles host Adrian.