Photo: Belmont High’s Alexa Sabatino scoring against Melrose
Belmont High Field Hockey had an eventful past week: the team tied up one of the leading squads in New England (and Watertown slayer) Winchester, 1-1, on the Sachems’ home turf, knocked off Reading 2-0 at home and earned an excellent 1-0 away victory at Arlington.
And on Tuesday, Oct. 3, the team showed off its good form beating Melrose, 5-1, under the lights of Harris Field.
And the team’s reward for being 7-0-1 with six shutouts? Being excluded from the Boston Globe Top 20 rankings and having to take on 8-1-0 Watertown away at Victory Field for the second year running.
I ask you; where’s the love?
For Jessie Smith, Belmont’s long-serving head coach, the past four games have been preparing for the battle with the Raiders, the six-time Div 2 State champion who had its record unbeaten streak ended by Winchester in September.
“I’ve been pleased with how we have been playing. Our passing has been outstanding, and we’ve been scoring when we needed to,” Smith said.
In her best match of the bunch, Belmont hung tough against Winchester behind senior goaltender Christine McLeod who stopped 14 of 15 hard shots thrown at her, including making a spectacular diving save early in the second half. Smith pointed to the defensive back line of Emma Donahue, Johnna Crowley, Hanna Power and sub Meaghan Noone breaking up a number of Winchester’s attacks.
While Winchester did break through with 12 minutes to play as Shannon Crowe scored from a penalty corner, Belmont’s senior captain Alexa Sabatino beat Winchester goalie Brooke Ross with the equalizer five minutes later off of the Marauders’ first penalty corner of the game.
“After they scored, we really stepped it up. You could see they hadn’t given up and wanted to get that goal back,” said Smith.
After a solid 2-0 win over Reading, Belmont traveled to Spy Pond country where they encountered an improving Arlington squad.
With Arlington deploying a defense consisting of its entire team stationed between the ball and the goal when Belmont was on the attack, it took the Marauders a good 50 minutes to solve the labyrinth of sticks and players as junior right attack Morgan Chase lifted the ball into net from eight meters out with nine minutes remaining in the game.
“Their defense was really strong which made it difficult to make our passes,” said Chase who is one of team’s leading scorers.
Tuesday’s game against visiting Melrose allowed Smith to clear the bench and use her entire team leading up to the Watertown match. Junior Mia Kaldenbaugh punched in a pair with Sabatino and sophomore midfield Katie Guden both scoring.
The final goal was by the future of Belmont Field Hockey as sophomore Cleo Theodoropulos grabbing the late tally, her first of the season.
Belmont will take on the one-loss Watertown team on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. at Victory Field
After losing to Winchester in a one-sided contest, Watertown has been on a tear, winning six consecutive games all by shutouts while scoring six goals four times.
For Smith, the game will be won by the team that controls the midfield.
“We have to keep our feet moving on defense and really push forward when we have the chance,” said Smith.