Photo: Belmont’s Emma Sass (10) and Kristen Gay (24) attempt to head the ball during the team’s match with Arlington.
It was a learning experience for the young Belmont High School Girls’ Soccer team as they met the steel of the schedule, falling to the Middlesex League’s dominant teams this week.
The Marauders lost to host and defending Middlesex/Liberty champs Wilmington, 5-1, on Thursday, Sept. 17 before greeting Arlington High for a noon matinee at Harris Field on a hot Saturday, Sept. 19.
But home cooking did help Belmont (2-2) as they fell to Arlington, 3-1.
While Belmont played well in spurts, it could not control the midfield against a physical SpyPonder crew who were able to string short combination passes through the heart of the field to put Belmont’s young back line (two freshmen, a sophomore and a junior) on the back foot.
Due to the pressure, the Marauder midfielders were required to help out which left Belmont’s forwards on their own to bring the ball upfield.
“Our midfielders have to be more aggressive to the ball,” said Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham who remains a game away from his 300th victory.
“For two games in a row, we lost the midfield and we can’t our attack right because we are on our heels when we need to go forward. When we did that, we had some great plays because we are pushing it where we should be going,” said Graham.
Arlington scored in the first 10 minutes on a flukish shot by forward Mackenzie Roy that floated over Belmont goalie Georgia Parson into the net.
Arlington was comfortable to keep the ball in the middle of the field while Belmont’s best offensive target was sophomore left wing Carrie Allard who was out sprinting the SpyPonder defenders. But Arlington alway appeared to have players coming back to help out at any semblance of a Marauder attack.
Graham praised the play of sophomore defender Natalie Marcus-Bauer who he said was able to dictate the play in front of her, forcing the Arlington forwards to take shots and passes they didn’t want to.
“She’s a leader back there,” Graham said.
While Belmont started the second half with a couple of deep runs toward’s Arlington’s goal, it would be short lived as Arlington’s physical play – challenging each pass or run with a legal shove or bump – appeared to put the Marauders’ off its rhythm.
“That seemed to bother us,” said Graham.
With 10 minutes remaining, Arlington’s Anna Kohlberg scored an open net goal coming off the wing to tap in a pass from the corner. notched two goals for the Spy Ponders, and Anna Kohlberg had a goal and two assists. Roy would collect her brace five minutes later as a result of three rapid passes that allowed the forward to turn and shot from 15 meters.
Belmont would end the shut out when a penalty was called in the box with a minute left and Julia Rifkin buried a penalty kick inside the right post beyond the goalie’s hands.
Belmont is at Woburn on Monday, Sept. 21.