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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Belles punch MIAA Tournament ticket with senior night win

A college team’s final home game is always a special occasion. The chance to honor seniors and celebrate their accomplishments over the previous four (or more) years, as well as the players and people they’ve become, only comes once for each graduating class.

But senior night meant a little bit more for this year’s Saint Mary’s lacrosse team. Before the game, the Belles celebrated their three seniors — attacker Madeleine Brown and midfielders Erin Dotson and Molly Mullett — as well as graduate student midfielder Lindsey Herdsman. But after it ended, the Belles celebrated again. That’s because their 11-10 win over Trine University on Tuesday clinched a berth in the MIAA Tournament, adding to the pomp and circumstance of an already celebratory day.

The Belles rode the momentum of the senior celebrations to a tone-setting strong start. For the first time since their March 25 clash against Edgewood, Saint Mary’s pitched a shutout in the first quarter. The Belles’ defense led the way. Trine could not get so much as a single shot on goal in the first 15 minutes. During that same span, Saint Mary’s put three balls behind Thunder goalie Maddy Kasten. Mullett delivered one of the best games of her excellent career. She scored twice in the first quarter and three times in the opening 16:05. Sophomore midfielder Valentina Rubio also found the back of the net in the opening frame.

However, Trine would not go away quietly. Although Mullett was able to briefly halt the momentum of their two-goal second quarter burst, a late first-half tally by Nikki Hibler gave the Thunder some momentum heading into halftime. Alyssa Keptner, who set up Hibler’s tally, buried a goal just 1:27 into the second half to bring Trine within one. Mullett and Dotson traded goals with Trine’s Brooke Hoag for the rest of the quarter. It ended with the Belles holding a narrow 7-6 edge.

But Saint Mary’s made what wound up being a game-winning statement to start the fourth. Three goals in a 2:09 span within the frame’s first four minutes gave them some much-welcomed breathing room. Herdsman, junior attacker Julia Gorski and freshman defender/attacker Alyssa Grant combined for the Belles’ second three-plus goal run of the game.

Less than two minutes later, Dotson scored what would turn out to be Saint Mary’s last goal of the game — and the game-winner. The Belles needed every last bit of their four-goal lead to survive a furious comeback by Trine. Saint Mary’s conceded three goals in the final three minutes, with their lead shrinking to one with 40 seconds remaining. But sophomore goalie Emma Zmudzinski’s six saves and the efforts of the Belles’ most experienced members proved enough.

Saint Mary’s wraps up its regular season Friday, April 28, with an away contest against Alma College. The game begins at 6 p.m. After that, it’s off to the MIAA Tournament, which begins with the semifinals May 3.