For Belmont High School Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane, Tuesday’s home game against Lexington High was an exciting one, but “it’s just a regular-season game.”
But the match, played on Seniors Night at Harris Field, Oct. 21, should be placed in the “signature win” column as the Marauders struck twice early and once late to defeat the one-loss Minutemen – ranked 12th for the past two weeks in the Boston Globe poll – by a 3-2 scoreline.
The win ups the Marauders record to 11-3-2 with two games left in the season; away at Winchester on Saturday, Oct. 25 and a home game on Monday, Oct. 27 vs. non-league Pentucket.
“Under the lights, both teams wanted this and I was proud of their effort tonight. I really like how they came out with a lot of effort and athleticism against Lexington,” said Bisceglia-Kane.
“This was a good measuring stick for the playoffs. Lexington’s a [Division] 1 team and ranked and we weren’t so hopefully this helps their confidence,” he said.
After a celebration honoring the team’s seniors and before parents, family and a loud cheering section, Belmont came out like a whirlwind, out-muscled and outplayed the Minuteman which resulted in the best possible start. At the kickoff, Belmont drove the ball down the right side where leading scorer, Charlie Frigo, picked up the ball 18 meters out, pivoted that left a defenders looking and fired the ball past Minuteman’s Carter Hochman after a mere 36 seconds.
Before the rowdy fans could find their seats, Frigo netted his brace knocking in a cross from Sami Beluadi to give Belmont a 2-0 lead after only three-and-a-half minutes.
But you don’t get to 12 wins out of 14 games without being somewhat good playing the game and Lexington got its mojo going by winning the battle in the midfield by out running the Marauders to the ball and connecting on some sharp combination passing. Some slick passing in the box allowed Henry Troop to one-time the ball by Belmont goalkeeper Peter Berens with seven minutes to go in the first to leave the Minutemen trailing by one at the half.
Lexington would tie the game eight minutes into the second half as defender Alfred Joseph came up from the back to take a short pass from Lewis Mustoe and slipped the ball just under a diving Berens.
With blood in the water, the Minutemen continued its assault only to be thawed by Berens twice including a sliding block at the penalty spot.
At the 30 minute mark with a tie on the board, the game became a grind-it-out affair with much of the action taking place between the goal areas with few solid chances for either side.
Then, against the run of play, Belmont took the lead in the simplest of ways.
Senior forward Luke Gallagher outpaced the Lexington midfielder to take a long clearing pass down the right wing. He quickly passed the ball to the top of the box where a fast-closing Daron Hamparian controlled the ball and shot between the center and right backs and passing a flat-footed Hochman with 13 minutes remaining.
“Sometimes the team is so technically sound that they don’t play a little messier. That [goal] was just a vertical pass [Gallagher] won and passed to [Hamparian], a quick pass and a shot,” said Bisceglia-Kane. “Hopefully we can do this a little more because we tend to be a little too cute with the ball.”
With the exception of a pair of corner kicks which did not reach Berens, Belmont eased to the win.
“The proudest moment for me was when we were let up the lead but then responded,” said Bisceglia-Kane.
“That’s what you will have to do. There will be moments in the regular season and, hopefully not, but most likely in the playoffs when you need to come back in a game,” he said.
“I always tell the guys they need to play for one another. If you are playing for yourself, you’re never going to be playing your hardest. But when you’re playing for each other that’s when you feel like you’re playing as a team,” said Bisceglia-Kane.
Girls’ soccer returns to playoffs with shutout over Minutemen
The members of the Belmont High Girls’ Soccer team were screaming their collective heads off as their bus passed by Harris Field as the boys’ soccer team was about to kick off with their match with Lexington.
The yelling fest – an ongoing tradition for Belmont’s girls’ squads – meant only one thing: the team had won their away match vs Lexington; and with it, a return to the post-season for the Marauders (9-5-2).
With a first-half goal by senior Sophia Eschenbach-Smith – her second important goal in three games – and the stellar work by the three back line defenders that helped goalkeeper Linda Herlihy to her seventh shutout in the 1-0 victory.
“It was a really good team win and we worked really hard,” said Eschenbach-Smith. “I hope we can keep up the momentum as we are now in the playoffs.”
Eschenbach-Smith scored Belmont’s lone goal in the Marauders’ 1-1 home tie against 15th ranked and league leader Arlington High a week earlier.
The win was payback for a 5-0 home loss to the Minutemen on Sept. 24.
“Today we came out with a real purpose. We needed the one point to get into the tournament. We talked a lot about that and the kids really worked hard and came out fired up,” said Paul Graham, the team’s long-time head coach, who missed last season’s playoffs after a two decade run.
“We played playoff soccer tonight,” said Graham, whose victory total now stands at 298.
Eschenbach Smith scored from a pass from Julia Cella after getting past a defender and burying a left foot shot 15 minutes into the game.
Then Graham allowed Herlihy and his back line to dictate the pace of the game.
“Our defense was tremendous,” said Graham, saying that freshman Natalie Marcus-Bauer, who now starts in the Marauders’ defense with senior leader center back Lucia Guzikowski and Elizabeth Ferrante, “who had her best game” and naming her the Player of the Match.
With his two outside midfielders – Katrina Rokosz and Elizabeth Ferrante – coming back to cover the wide spaces, “we had five players taking on their two forwards.” When the Minutemen did have opportunities to score, Herlihy was there to crush those chances.
“I have to thank my defenders. They do a great job every game. If I get a shutout, it’s a team shutout,” said Herlihy.