Photo: The no-goal against Belmont v. Masco.
A pair of goals that were more fortuitous than skillful put an end to both Belmont High School soccer teams post-season runs this week.
Despite controlling most of its game against Danvers, Girls’ soccer were victims to two chips that appeared to be attended passes rather than shots to lose 2-0 in its Division 2 North semifinals match played at Manning Stadium in Lynn on Friday, Nov. 11.
“Just couldn’t get a break,” said Belmont Girls’ Head Coach Paul Graham after the game. “We had 20 minutes more of possession; we controlled the game and could have easily been 2-1 at the half.”
Over in Boxboro on Nov. 8, Belmont Boys’ not only had to contend not only with one but two goals that took unkind b0unces against hosts Masconomet Regional High School; the Marauders were deprived of penalties not called in the penalty area in addition to a goal that was not awarded despite having gone over the goal line.
“It was disappointing because their goals were fluky, but they outplayed us for most of the game, and you can’t win without possessing the ball,” said Boys’ Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane.
Girls: Two chips with no salsa end Belmont’s run
It was a game in which the elements played a part; the harsh, fall-seasonal setting sun blinded the goal at the east side of the field while a stiff wind favored the team heading westward. And it turned out the Falcons took advantage of the sun early and the wind at the start of the second half.
Belmont came into the game after destroying Boston Latin Academy, 10-0, on Election Day, with a plan to stop Danvers which beat Beverly and Woburn 4-0. They would play with four defenders with senior Julia Cella playing man-to-man against Nicole White, the Falcon’s scoring threat who came in with four goals in the playoffs.
After eight minutes of feeling out each other, Danvers’ second time deep into Belmont’s territory struck paydirt as a White pass into the penalty area – and into the sun – caused a bit of confusion between Belmont’s goalkeeper senior Georgia Parsons and a defender which allowed the ball to bounce towards the Falcon’s Lydia Runnals who headed the ball softly into the net at the 32 minute mark.
After the goal, Belmont’s midfielders began taking control as senior Anna Alibrandi and junior Emma Sass started beating the most physical Falcons to the ball. Belmont’s passes were being directed to Belmont’s top scorer junior Cary Allard who outpaced the left side of Danvers’ defense.
Belmont’s first chance of the half came with 21 minutes remaining when Cella sent a pass from the right corner into the box where Allard and senior Ally Meringer had shots which were blocked by defenders.
The Marauders’ brightest opportunity came with 13 minutes remaining as great passing by Allard and junior Emily Duffy left sophomore Morgan Krausse alone 15 meters from Danvers junior goalkeeper Mackenzie Gilmore. But Krausse pushed her shot wide right.
Marauders’ final chance began with Allard who sent a quick pass along the goal line hitting Danvers’ freshman defender Abbi Clickstein which forced Gilmore to make the potential own-goal save just before the half.
While Belmont’s halftime talk was to quickly find an equalizer, it was the Falcons’ that scored as a high chip by freshman Abby Cash was caught in the 30 mph gust and flew over Parsons’ head in the first four minutes into the second half.
Up by two, Danvers put eight players in front of the ball, making ineffective Belmont’s passing offense. While Belmont dominated play in half, it could not get a good shot off in the 40 minute half. A corner kick with five minutes remaining dropped into a no man’s land 20 meters where senior defender Rachel Berets long-distance shot missed the left post by a few meters.
The game’s ended as the sun finally set and the wind died down. Tears and crying were not hidden as player hugged friends and teammates. The team will miss seniors Anna Alibrandi, Ali Bailey, Rachel Berets, Julia Cella, Julia Delhome, Ally Meringer, Georgia Parsons, Giulia Rufo and Nicole Thoma.
“I am so proud of this group; I’ve got tears in my eyes too,” Graham told the team. “You’ve worked so hard; it was an absolute joy to coach you kids.”
Boys’: When is a goal not a goal? When it’s not called
Down by two with less than 10 minutes left in a frustrating game, it appeared that Belmont had found the answer to a Masconomet Regional team whose top-notched work rate was not to be denied. A wonderful centering pass by senior Daron Hamparian found Belmont’s junior defender Kostas Tingos five meters from the Chieftains’ goal.
Tingos’ header eluded goalkeeper Derek Davidson and hit the crossbar with the ball shooting downward. After bouncing on the ground and heading into the net when a Masco defender wrapped his right leg around the ball as his left was on the goal line. As most of the fans and Belmont players close to the goal demanded the goal – as they saw the ball go over the line – the referee stationed midway down the goal line refused to call it, recalling Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal vs. Germany in the 2010 World Cup.
After a game in which both officials decided to keep their whistles deep in their pockets, it came to be expected that a goal would not be awarded on a close play. While Belmont’s outstanding senior midfielder Luckson Dambo goal from a scramble in front of the goalmouth cut the 2-0 lead in half, it came with four minutes remaining which gave Belmont little time to finish its comeback.
The “un”-goal came after a pair of Belmont forwards being brought down inside the penalty area which was not whistled, as a chippy game allowed the physical to trump skills in a match played on a pitch that resembled a meadow.
“The grass played into [the outcome], the fact that we are not a small field team,” said Bisceglia-Kane.
While Belmont was able to more than hold its own against the defending Division 2 North champions, they had difficulty in keeping the ball in the Masco end of the field as the Chieftains were able to front Belmont player and cut off many of the passing lanes.
It appeared that Belmont had its breakthrough with 24 minutes remaining in the half when Hamparian was knocked down as he was heading for the goal well within the penalty box. But the ref made no signal on the challenge, apparently believing Hamparian fell over too easily.
“We had a good spurt in the first half when we started playing better and moving the ball around in the middle of the first half,” said Bisceglia-Kane.
Defensively, Belmont’s back four of seniors Antranig Boynerian, and Ed Stafford along with John Campbell and Tingos kept Masco’s forwards well in check, allowing junior netkeeper Nate Esplin to push back any threats.
While Masco could not fight past the Belmont defense, its first goal was just fluky. Chieftain’s sophomore forward Matt Dzwil took what appeared to be a miss-shot from 20 meters that hit off the crossbar and bounced off the back of the head of a surprised Esplin into the net and giving Masco a 1-0 halftime lead.
Up by one, Masco came out seeking to double their advantage and nearly did as junior midfielder Laurent Brabo swept a ball off of Belmont’s goal line and Esplin made an acrobatic punch save five minutes into the half.
Then it was Belmont’s turn to push forward as Luckson just missed the net after a pretty passing combination and Hamparian was dragged down just inside the penalty area but once more no call.
Masco then scored its second goal with 16 minutes to play as Dzwil floated a ball towards the box only to see his pass float into the back of the net.
While Belmont took control of the final 10 minutes, it could not bring enough pressure on the host’s end to make a difference. With the final whistle, Belmont exited the tournament with a big upset – 2-1 OT victory over Concord Carlise – and a lot of “what ifs.”
“I remind the guys you’ve got to respect the effort that you put in, and these guys put a ton in the season. But you have to remember that his is a game and you’re here to have fun. Never be too high or too low. So they can leave here without any regrets because they put it all on the field today,” said Bisceglia-Kane.