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Belles Capture First MIAA Championship in Tight Win Over Britons

The lacrosse team huddles together for a photo with the 2019 MIAA Women's Lacrosse Champion trophy.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - With the score tied 3-3 just 23:29 into the game, the Belles scored twice in less than a minute to start a 5-0 run against visiting Albion as the Saint Mary's lacrosse team captured their first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) Championship in a 14-12 win over the Brits on Friday night.
A flurry of goals were scored before ten minutes had been completed in the battle between the only two undefeated teams in the conference standings. The Belles struck early in the game as Bridget Kane rattled the cage with a goal just 17 seconds into play. Albion countered with back-to-back goals at 26:53 and 26:13, but the Brits' lead was short-lived as Raigan Althouse connected with Erin Doyle for a goal just 18 seconds later. Kendra Osinski sent home a free position goal for a 3-2 Saint Mary's lead. Both goalies made big saves before Albion drew even with a goal with 23:29 on the clock.
The Belles responded by popping off five consecutive goals to take a lead they would not relinquish. Erin Doyle scored just 11 seconds after the Brits tied the game, and Kate Kelly won the next draw control and promptly scored 29 seconds after Doyle to put the Belles up 5-3. Kendra Osinski and Kate Kelly found the back of the net in the span of less than a minute a short while later to make it a 7-3 lead in favor of the Belles as Albion called for a timeout. Kate Kelly then pushed the lead to five goals at 8-3 with 18:21 on the clock.
The Britons got a goal back with a free position effort less than a minute later. Rachael Leonard caused a turnover and corralled the ground ball to turn defense into offense for the Belles, and Erin Doyle made the most of the offensive opportunity with her third goal of the game for a 9-4 advantage. Albion posted back-to-back goals within a span of 40 seconds to cut the deficit to three goals with 12:31 remaining before halftime. Both goalies had a stretch of solid saves as Emily Kraker stuffed three shots and her Albion counterpart made four saves over the next six minutes of play. Eventually, the Brits edged a goal closer with 6:31 on the clock to make it a 9-7 game. The Belles, however, took the momentum going into the half after Kate Kelly sent home her fourth goal of the half before Emily Kraker made yet another save to give Saint Mary's a 10-7 lead at the break.
Kelly opened the scoring in the second period with a goal five minutes into play, but Albion got a goal back in transition a short while later. Both teams revved up the defensive efforts throughout the second half as Saint Mary's blocked a pair of shots inside the critical scoring area while Albion continued to get some key saves from their goalie.
It would be the Belles who would break up the scoring drought as Kendra Osinski buried a tough shot with 14:37 on the clock. Kate Kelly won the next draw control, and Bridget Kane found the back of the net with her second goal of the game with 14:02 to play. The Brits came back with a goal a minute later, but defense again prevailed over the next five-plus minutes of action with another blocked shot and an Emily Kraker save. Albion turned a play in transition into a goal with under eight minutes remaining, and the Brits added another goal with 6:22 on the clock to make it a 13-11 game. Bridget Kane led Kate Kelly into open space in the critical scoring area for a big goal for the Belles with 4:04 to play to put Saint Mary's up 14-11. Emily Kraker then made a huge save on Albion's next possession, but a free position goal by the Brits a minute later made it a 14-12 game with 2:15 remaining. Kate Kelly came up with a big win on the next draw control, but a turnover gave the Brits a chance to go on the attack late. The Belles' defense, however, came up with a big play. Sarah Frick and Kate Kelly put a stop to the clear attempt by the Brits as Frick cleanly checked the ball out of the stick of the Albion player before Kelly picked up the ground ball with a minute and a half remaining. The Belles then pushed the ball ahead into their offensive zone and ran out the rest of the clock to preserve the 14-12 win.
Kate Kelly led all players with six goals to match her career-high for a single game. The senior co-captain also had game-highs of 11 draw controls, six ground balls, and four caused turnovers. Erin Doyle posted three goals and an assist, and Kendra Osinski notched a hat trick with three goals. Bridget Kane scored two goals, chipped in an assist, and pulled down three draw controls. Raigan Althouse had two assists, and Molly Stout tallied an assist. Rachael Leonard had four ground balls with two caused turnovers. Emily Kraker made nine saves in goal.

The Belles (12-5, 8-0 MIAA) will host an MIAA Tournament Semifinal on Wednesday, May 1 at 6:00 p.m. The opponent for Saint Mary's is still to be determined based on the outcome of the final regular season games taking place tomorrow.