Photo: Morgan Chase scoring vs. Stoneham.
One hope of Belmont High School Field Hockey Head Coach Jessica Smith’s for the 2016 campaign was the team could be as proficient in scoring as last year’s squad which totaled 91 goals.
After the first two games of the season, Smith can probably check off that box.
Against Melrose and Stoneham, this year’s team has scored a total of 17 goals while giving up just one. And in almost any sport, that’s a darn good ratio.
To be fair, the Marauders’ initial competition comes from the smaller school division of the Middlesex League and haven’t had successful programs for some years (although Stoneham did draw 1-1 in the season opener with Winchester – a team which defeated Belmont last year and placed second to the Marauders for the division championship) so the numbers may appear gaudy this early in the season.
But it’s not just how many goals Belmont is scoring or how they are scoring them. In the season opener against Melrose, the Marauders as a team were showing end-of-the-season like form in their passing, dribbling and ball placement skills as they topped the Red Raiders 8-0.
In the game, the playmaking and scoring were not just coming from the two senior all-stars on the team, AnnMarie Habelow, and Julia Chase. In fact, Habelow, a Boston Globe All-Scholastic who will compete for a spot on the US National Under-19 team in November, is not atop the team’s scoring table. That honor currently goes to a freshman, forward Katie Guden, who has tallied five goals to Habelow’s three.
The scoring prowess is a result of some precise ball movement from around the field. At times, Habelow will drive “long balls” – where the player sends the ball nearly the length of the field (about 80 meters) – to a teammate who is racing onto it. But Belmont is as adept moving the ball via passes and dribbling, using their speed on the wings – via sophomore Morgan Chase and Bridget Gardiner – to open room near the goal mouth for attacking players. Also showing great prowess on the ball have been Jordan Letticer and youngster Mia Kalend who has shown great use of her endurance and athleticism in the midfield.
Against Stoneham, Belmont scored from in-close where Guden and junior Alexa Sabatino are deadly accurate and from the 19-yard limit (goals can only be scored from within the attacking semi-circle) which has become Habelow’s bread and butter with the field hockey equivalent of the ice hockey slap shot. Belmont scored eight times in the first half to walk away with a 9-1 win.
While a good defense is a great offense, Belmont has a great deal of experience on the backline starting with Chase who is committed to UNH next year and Molly Goldberg starting in front of the second-year goalie, Chrissy McLeod.