Photo: Belmont High freshman Dana Lehr (second left) celebrates the tying goal she scored in the final two minutes of the match vs Wilmington.
There’s a phase used in British soccer commentary: “at the death” meaning at the last possible moment of a game. For both of Belmont High soccer teams in their opening week, points were salvaged “at the death” – one for a much needed tie and the other resulting in a ruckus victory.
Freshman rescues Girls’ soccer
Belmont High Girls’ soccer opened its 2021-22 Middlesex League account on Friday, Sept. 10, facing the prospect of a solid effort against visiting Wilmington High go to waste as the Marauders’ trailed late, 1-0, via a deflected shot early in the fourth quarter.
But leave it up to one of the youngest players on the pitch to pull a point out of her hat a la Bullwinkle J Moose as freshman midfielder Dana Lehr deftly slotted a pin-perfect pass from forward Paula Dullaghan from just inside the goal area with two minutes remaining to see the match end as a 1-1 stalemate.
“You can’t loss the first game!” explained Lehr.
Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham praised his center defender Sofia Hospodar as a steadying influence for a young back line taking on a physical opponent.
The Marauders were on the road Tuesday, Sept. 14 visiting Stoneham, a good all-around squad that uses its home ground – a rarely cut grass pitch that tilts at an angle between the goals – to great advantage. The end result was Belmont’s first loss, 2-1, as the Spartan’s speed allowed them to play the long-ball game and keep the Marauders bottled up.
“We were running backwards all game long,” said Graham. “It was so frustrating but they played better then we did.”
While Belmont had its chances, they could only breech the Stoneham goal once through junior Sabrina Salls.
Belmont is in action on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Harris Field against Melrose.
Boys’ grabs a late winner, everyone goes bonkers
After a big opening day 2-0 victory over host Wilmington on Friday, Sept. 10, the Belmont High Boys’ Soccer team hosted Freedom Division foe Stoneham at Harris Field on Tuesday, Sept. 14 and waited until the very last minute to snatch a 2-1 victory from the prospect of a tie.
For first year head coach Niman Kenkre the team’s three win start – Belmont secured a non-league 3-1 victory over Boston Latin which will impact any potential state tournament seeding – “has laid a marker for the season ahead.”
Against Stoneham, Marauder Lucas Alvarez Fernandez took hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s quote – “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take” – to heart when his middling attempt was terribly muffed by the Spartan goalie to give Belmont a 1-0 lead at the half. While Belmont held a slight edge over the Stoneham team – made up of taller and stouter players – in the first half, the Marauders saw themselves on the back boot as the game moved into the later part of the second half.
”We are not at the fitness level as I had hoped. We had players cramping … and others needed to be subbed out,” Kenkre said.
Stoneham’s quickness paid off near the mid point of the half as two quick one-time passes along the goal line left an opening in the front of the Marauder’s net for the tying goal.
Rather than settle for the point at home, Belmont committed to the attack down the wings searching for a clear shot at goal. As the scoreboard clock stopped at the 2 minute mark – when the officials keep the time on the field – Belmont’s Anthony Durkin drifted in-between three Spartan defenders at the top of the penalty box where Alvarez Fernandez found the forward with a pass from the left. A few steps to find a clear view and Durkin’s blast found the back of the net with little time left to play. The resulting bonkers celebration on and off the field – including an attempted pitch invasion (?!) from Marauder supporters – will be seen by the participants as obviously over the top for an early season league match on a Tuesday night.
“I can’t say enough about [Anthony],” said Kenkre. “He’s our star, he’s our senior leader. He came back from cramps and when he went back in, he suggested that he be put up as a striker. And I did that and it resulted in a brilliant goal. He was brilliant all game.”
Belmont is on the road Saturday, Sept. 18 to play Melrose.