Photo: Belmont’s Jordan Lettiere scoring the first goal of the season in Belmont’s 8-0 win over Wilmington.
Belmont High Head Coach Jess Smith was nervous before the season-opening game at Wilmington on Saturday, Sept. 7.
“Are we really ready for this game?” worried Smith, remembering Belmont’s close 1-0 home victory against the Wildcats a year earlier.
While Smith fretted as coaches will, her players spent the final moments during stick inspection discussing … llamas. “They’re sooo cute! But really nasty in person,” commented a player who got to see the South American pack animal up close during a recent school trip to Machu Picchu.
“Do you believe them?” said Smith of her charges as they headed out onto the pitch. But being anxious is just Smith’s natural state before a match, be it against tough foes like Watertown or a weaker opponent during the season.
A little over an hour later, Smith was able to set her worries aside (at least until the next game) as her Marauders came out and dominated the host Wildcats, 8-0, to open the team’s 2018 account with a victory.
“I’ll take it,” said a pleased Smith, now in her 13th year coaching the team. “The team was an offensive machine today,” she said.
And why wouldn’t Smith be pleased? Her Marauders controlled all aspects of the game. On defense, Belmont shut down the Wildcat attack by clogging the passing lanes and using their collective speed – Smith credits three weeks of running 400-meter laps on the Harris Field track – to limit to just a handful of the times Wilmington crossed the midfield line. Led by juniors Katie Guden at center mid and Emma Donahue, center back, Belmont was able to quickly transition to offense.
“I was impressed how the defense and the midfield worked together to bring the ball into the [striking circle],” said Smith.
Offensively, Belmont used a combination of solid passing and slick, quick solo runs – by speedster Marissa Cecca, Guden and senior forward and co-captain Morgan Chase – to counter Wilmington packing 11 players between the ball and their goal. It took all of four minutes for the team to get on the scoreboard when senior forward and co-captain Jordan Lettiere beat the Wildcat goalie by her left pad to give Belmont the lead they’d keep.
Belmont would score three more in the first and four in the final 30 minutes with Guden bagging the hat trick, with Chase and Donahue putting in a pair, each scored in close and from just inside the striking circle (Chase’s long-distance goal came from a penalty corner passed to her by defender Meaghan Noone which can be seen on the video). Morgan Moroney and Molly Calkins each played a half in net and shared the shutout.
Next up for Belmont is the home opener at Harris Field against Stoneham on Wednesday at 4 p.m. then the Marauders host Woburn at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.