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Belles Narrowly Edged Out in Season Opener

Emily Kraker, wearing an all-navy uniform with a navy and light blue helmet, makes a save.
NAPERVILLE, Ill. - The Saint Mary's lacrosse team fell in a tight 8-7 final on a cold Wednesday evening at North Central College.
The host Cardinals took an early lead with a goal on their first possession and made it a 2-0 game two minutes later. The Belles kept a possession alive with a ground ball, and Erin Doyle made the most of the chance with a goal to halve the North Central lead. Doyle then won the ensuing draw control and registered her second goal of the contest 50 seconds later to knot the game at 2-2. The Cardinals capitalized on a turnover deep in their offensive end and regained the lead. North Central tallied another goal less than a minute later for a 4-2 advantage.
Bridget Kane caused a turnover and picked up the ground ball after some back-and-forth play. Molly Stout then earned a free position shot. The senior had her initial effort saved, but Stout redirected the loose ball past the Cardinals' goalie to make it a 4-3 game with 18:00 on the clock. The score remained unchanged until the clock wound below the 12-minute marker. Kate Kelly picked up a ground ball, and the Belles kept the offensive possession alive by winning the chase after a high shot by Kendra Osinski. Doyle buried a shot off of a pass by Kelly to register the hat trick and tie the game with 11:38 remaining before halftime. Emily Kraker made a big save three minutes later to keep the score knotted at four apiece as both sides had a handful of scoring chances. North Central, however, tallied back-to-back goals in the final three minutes of the period to hold a 6-4 lead at the break.
The Belles put the pressure on the Cardinals' defense early on, and Erin Doyle broke through less than four minutes into the half with her fourth goal to make it a one-score game. Each goalie made several big saves over the next 14 minutes of action, including three free position saves by Kraker. The Belles were able to break through when Bridget Kane buried a free position shot of her own to tie the game at 6-6 with 11:16 on the clock.
Another span of four minutes elapsed with the two sides playing back-and-forth. The Cardinals again took the lead with a goal with just over seven minutes left in the period, and North Central added to their lead with a goal with 4:55 remaining. Bridget Kane won the ensuing draw control, and Kate Kelly showed her poise with a patient and well-placed free position shot for a goal to pull the Belles within one with 3:57 to play. Kelly won the next draw control and had a shot rattle off the post just moments later. The Belles dialed up the pressure late in the game. That pressure yielded a possession in the closing seconds, and Shannon McCloskey drew a shooting space free position chance with two seconds to play. The freshman looked to have beaten the North Central goalie with the potential game-tying goal, but her shot ricocheted off the post and out of the mouth of the goal as the game ended 8-7.
The Belles held a 33-25 advantage over the Cardinals in total shots and a 32-29 margin in ground balls on the night.
Erin Doyle led all players with four goals. Kate Kelly added a goal, three assists, and five ground balls. Bridget Kane tallied a goal and five ground balls along with three caused turnovers. Molly Stout chipped in a goal. Emily Kraker posted seven saves for the Belles.
The Belles (0-1) return home to host Mount St. Joseph on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.