Photo: It’s all tied up!
After conceding three goals in the first 15 minutes of its game against the three-time Middlesex League champions Wilmington High School, it felt like that it would be an early night for the Belmont High Girls’ Soccer.
“I told them to keep their heads up and just play their game,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach Paul Graham, Tuesday night, Sept. 13, against a team had had not lost a league match since 2013.
But even Graham was unprepared for what happened in the next 65 minutes.
Relying on one of the hottest players in the state and taking the game to the Wildcats, a relatively young Belmont squad erased the three-goal deficit to stun Wilmington, 3-3, in a tie hardly anyone saw coming.
“Stealing a point was huge and to do it coming back against that club, a ranked team when we were down three to nothing. This was a total team ‘win,'” said Graham, whose team lost to Wilmington, 5-1, last year.
The catalyst for Belmont was junior all-star Carey Allard who bagged the hat-trick to bring the Marauders (2-0-1) back from what appeared to be a certain home defeat.
“As soon as it happened, we all got a little down. But after halftime, we got our heads back in it and fought until we tied it,” said Allard who scored her first late in the first period with a running volley from a pass by junior midfielder Emma Sass and the second at the penalty spot.
The final goal, with just under 10 minutes remaining was, simply put, a mistake. Coming down the right side, Allard cut along the touch line and sent the ball over the Wildcat’s goalkeeper and into the far corner at the acutest of angles.
“That was supposed to be a cross, but I hit it all wrong. I guess I got lucky,” said Allard who has tallied eight goals in three games.
For Graham, the tie was, in a sense, a team victory as players outhustled the competition from winning 50/50 balls to muscling Wilmington away from making a dangerous move towards the Marauders’ goal.
Placing juniors Emma Sass, Eliza Filler and sophomore Olivia Cella in the midfield in the later part of first and in the second halves proved problematic for the Wildcat playmakers “because while they’re not the biggest girls, they are fast and nipped at [Wilmington’s] heels if they are beaten.”
Graham said the game will be a bookmark for future games against the steel of the Middlesex League in coming days.
“We had them on their back heel by the end of the game,”said Graham, praising sophomore forward Ella Gagnon for attacking Wilmington’s defense which gave Allard the little bit of space she needed to work her magic.