Photo: Seniors will have one more game on Harris Field.
With a strong finish to the regular season – three shutouts in as many games – Belmont Field Hockey dodged playing the top three squads in potential quarterfinal matchups in the Division 1 North Sectional Playoffs by securing the fifth seed, after the MIAA rankings were released on Monday, Oct. 30.
The Marauders’ reward for a 12-2-2 campaign – its only losses were to two top five teams in the Boston Globe Field Hockey Poll – is an opening round home game at Harris Field against Natick High at 6 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 2.
“When you earn a home game, you want to win it,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessie Smith. “So my only goal so far is just win the first game, but I would like to see this team go even further and I think they can.”
“If they can put together those small moments when we are dominating the game into bigger moments, I think we are a very strong team,” she said.
After taking it on the chin, 5-0, from Middlesex League Liberty champions Winchester (17-0-1) at Harris Field on Friday, Oct. 20, the team quickly righted the ship with a 1-0 squeaker against Lexington who held the Marauders to a 1-1 tie in Lexington the previous week.
Senior forward and co-captain Lilly Devitt scored in close from a pass by sophomore defender Emma Donahue at the mid-point of the first half. The initial 30 minutes was mostly played in Lexington’s end of the field with the Marauders getting several good looks at steering the ball into the box but just could not connect.
The improvement in Belmont’s game came after Smith reviewed the Winchester game which the Marauders were able to stay competitive with the Globe’s number one ranked team – Belmont is the only team to take a point from the Sachems holding them to a 1-1 tie in September – but could not sustain its attacks due to Winchester’s physical play.
“[Winchester] was winning 90 percent of the 50/50 balls, and that was the difference in the game,” said Smith, who started incorporating the same in close marking against Lexington.
Belmont survived a final Minuteman attempt to even the score only to have a pair of hard low efforts stopped by senior goalie Christine MacLeod, who posted ten shutouts this season.
On Seniors Night, Friday, Oct. 27, Belmont’s speed and stick skills were too much for Arlington as junior forward Hannah Power‘s hat trick was the highlight of the 4-0 victory.
“It was all good vibes, and I was feeling good out there,” said Power. “Our team was doing amazing in midfield and on defense especially with passing the ball to the forwards.”
And the key to scoring a hat trick? “Just keeping in mind, what [Smith] said ‘stop the ball and shot it. It’s that simple’,” said Power.
Just 11 hours after the Arlington victory, Belmont was in Reading to meet the Rockets Saturday morning. And despite the early morning hour and a nearby hornets nest, the Marauders methodically pressed the ball up the pitch, scoring twice in each half for the 4-0 victory. Sophomore midfielder Katie Goden got the brace with sophomore mid Marissa Cecca and senior co-captain Bridget Gardiner each pocketing one apiece.
Of special note was senior Tina Noonan, a dedicated role player who used her opportunity to take a penalty corner outlet pass, spin and pass to Guden who scored in the final minute.
“I was a little nervous when they had me taking the pass, but I did my job,” admitted Noonan. “It’s really encouraging and helps me to play better when [my teammates] want me to score.”
For Smith, the final three games was an excellent warm-up leading into a playoff season that she believes the team can go on a run.
“I have high hopes for the tournament. It’s like March Madness. You never know who’ll end up in the Final Four. Why not us?”