Lacrosse Season Recap
- The Belles finished second in the MIAA while setting new program records for conference wins in a season.
- The team also set a new record for overall wins in a season while re-establishing several individual game and season statistical records.
- Four Belles were named All-MIAA – the most for the program in a single year.
The ascent of the Saint Mary’s lacrosse program continued in 2017 as the team achieved new levels of success in nearly every category. In just the team’s fourth season, the Belles finished second in the MIAA, hosted a conference tournament semifinal, and rewrote records in nearly every category this past spring.
After not getting the winning results on the team’s spring break trip to Florida, the Belles went on a tear and won 10 of their next 13 competitions. That stretch was started by a thrilling 17-16 come-from-behind win in overtime at Illinois Tech. The Belles christened the new Purcell Athletic Fields lacrosse field with a 16-10 win over Ohio Northern. The team made it three wins in a row with a big 19-4 win at Elmhurst.
A nail-biting one-goal loss against North Central was followed by a setback against eventual NCAA Tournament participant Illinois Wesleyan. Undeterred, the team bounced back to take their opening two MIAA competitions over Olivet and Trine by a combined margin of 41-6. Three days after defeating Trine, the Belles hosted pre-season conference favorite Calvin in what would end up being one of the best competitions of the entire MIAA season in 2017. While the outcome did not favor Saint Mary’s in an 11-9 final, the Belles cemented themselves as a contender for a run at a championship.
The team’s resilience came through yet again as Saint Mary’s rattled off five consecutive conference wins – including a thrilling win at Albion and a big home win over Hope – to finish second in the league standings. The winning streak is the longest in the young program’s history and gave the squad the most conference victories in a season (7).
With the second place finish in the league, the Belles not only earned a spot in the top-four MIAA Tournament, but the team hosted a semifinal contest against third-seeded Hope. A one-goal 12-11 loss to the Flying Dutch may have ended the season for the Belles, but the success of the season and the program continue to propel Saint Mary’s in the direction of a championship in the future.
The Belles were among the top 50 teams in all of Division III in draw controls per game (15th), ground balls per game (20th), scoring offense (38th), and points per game (49th). The team came in 51st in the nation in caused turnovers per game, and Saint Mary’s was in the top-third in win percentage in 2017.
The team’s success was bolstered by the success of many individuals on the squad in 2017. Emilie Vanneste became the program’s first-ever 100 career goal scorer, and Clare Theisen quickly followed in her footsteps by netting her 100th career goal just two games later. Theisen has eclipsed the century mark in goals, points, ground balls, draw controls, and caused turnovers, becoming the first player for the program to accomplish such a feat. Mary Singler, meanwhile, posted more goals (51), assists (23), points (74), and shots (122) in a single season than any other Belle to-date. Kate Kelly joined in with her teammates in the rewriting with a single season-best 80 draw controls in 2017.
Singler, Theisen, Kelly, and Rachael Leonard were all selected by league coaches as All-MIAA honorees for the 2017 season. A two-time MIAA Offensive Player of the Week, Singler earned both Most Valuable Offensive Player and Rookie of the Year accolades while earning a spot on the First Team. Theisen was one of five midfielders to earn First Team honors, and Rachael Leonard was one of three defenders to find a spot on the First Team. Kelly was a Second Team All-MIAA honoree, earning her second all-conference selection in as many years.