Photo: Serena Nally leading the Belmont offense against Lexington.
Facing its toughest challenge of the season, Belmont High School Field Hockey took advantage of its scoring chances and the defense chalked up another shutout to beat visiting Lexington High, 2-0, on Friday afternoon, Sept. 25 at Harris Field.
“I was sweating for all 60 minutes,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessie Smith as her squad remained undefeated at 6-0 with five shutouts and seeing the Marauders enter the Boston Globe Top 20 Field Hockey poll at 19th.
“We haven’t been in a tight game this year,” said Smith.
“We weren’t playing that well; we were nervous. We saw the name “Lexington” and in the past they’ve been a powerhouse. Today, they had some solid players, but I think we could have stepped up a little bit more. But we got the job done.”
The win over Lexington (4-2) keeps Belmont atop the Middlesex League Liberty Division as the season hits its midpoint at the end of the week.
There is no let up of the pressure on Belmont as it visits 6-1 Winchester High (ranked 18th in the Globe poll) on Monday afternoon, Sept. 28.
Two Marauders continued impressive scoring streaks as freshman Morgan Chase (four goals in the last four games) and senior Kerri Lynch (11 goals for the season, scoring in each game) tallied to improve the Marauders’ scoring totals to 31 for and 2 against.
Chase said her goals were coming from “staying wide and staying open for the ball when it goes through the middle.”
“[Chase] is the player who can get the rebounds off the pads to knock it in and that’s why she’s a great right wing,” she added.
In the most competitive game of the season, Belmont found itself relying a great deal on the back three – Sophia Stratford, Molly Goldberg and Lilly Devitt – and sweeper Molly Thayer who set up in front of goalie Christina McLeod. The defense was able to run with and push out most Lexington ventures inside the Belmont shooting circle (inside 15 meters from the goal) with Thayer intercepting many attempted passes in the zone.
Coming back to help out the defense were junior leaders Julia Chase and AnnMarie Hebalow who was under the weather for several days before the match. The pair won nearly all their one-on-one encounters including a classic battle at the 20-meter mark where Hebalow fought a Lexington forward for 10 seconds before taking possession.
After surviving three corners and one deep run towards its goal, Belmont’s offense began to take hold to the game, as midfielder and senior captain Serena Nally took control of the center of the field, setting the offense attack and keeping pressure on the Lexington midfielders, creating turnovers on the transition.
“She was our MVP today,” said Smith of Nally, noting how she “stepped up all over the field, she was where ever the ball was defensively, but she really took charge today. We were down a little bit offensively today, and she took that position right up and delivered the ball.”
Belmont’s forwards – Lynch, Chase, and Katherine McCarthy (four shots) – never allowed Lexington’s defenders and midfielders a chance to catch their breath as they pushed down the wings and through the center to keep the Minutemen on the back heel.
It was a drive from the wing by defender Devitt which set up Chase in close to slotted the ball by the Lexington goalie at the 18 minute mark in the first to give Belmont the only goal it needed.
And the sniper Lynch took advantage of a Nally push and netted the ball with 12 minutes remaining in the match.