Photo: Belmont Lola Rocci (No. 4) reacts to scoring the tying goal vs. Reading
More than a half century ago just a few miles to the east along the Charles River, a spunky Harvard football 11 scored 16 points in the final 42 seconds against a top 20 ranked Yale squad to tie the contest, which the Harvard Crimson would proclaim in its headline: “Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29.”
While Belmont High Field Hockey’s tying tally against 8th-ranked Reading on Friday, Oct. 14 at Harris Field came with six minutes remaining in the game and there was no league title on the line, the “victory” was just important as the Marauders ability to take charge of the game, dominating the final two quarters over the one-loss Rockets, demonstrated a team ready for the Division 1 tournament which starts in three weeks.
With just under seven minutes remaining and with a penalty corner, Belmont’s Lola Rocci sent a Alex Townsend’s pass by Reading’s goalkeeper into the back of the net, sparking a joyous celebration after the squad spent nearly 50 minutes chasing a goal to knot things up.
With the tie, Belmont currently stands at 8-4-1 with four games remaining with an MIAA power rating of 13th in Division 1, which will secure a home game in the first round of 32 in the playoffs.
For longtime Marauders Head Coach Jess Smith, the game against the type of team waiting for them in the playoffs.
“Everything is coming together at the right time,” said Smith. “The kids are playing so well together. They know their roles and they’re working hard all the time.”
The Marauders took the game to the Rockets as they had a big advantage in 50/50 chances where both players have an equal opportunity to possess the ball. Arlington got off to a solid start as Ava Goodwin scored on the SpyPonders’ first shot at goal at 10:22 in the first quarter. Most of the first half was a battle for the midfield as Belmont took advantage of its speed and stick work to have a slight advantage on the pitch.
The SpyPonders started the second half on the front foot missing a pair of shots to the far post and forced goal keep Julia Herilihy to reject an in-close attempt in the initial five minutes. But soon the Marauders’ midfield of Rocci, MacKenzie Clark, Tess Desantos and Layne Doherty stamped their mark on the game and controlled the flow of the match.
While Arlington was able to have a sniff at goal, the Marauders would have the better chances including a shot by attack Carly Gaziano that slipped by goalie Myles Lakin and heading to the net until the SpyPonder keep dove and swept it out of danger. But Belmont would not be denied the point when Belmont’s press earned the penalty corner that resulted in Rocci’s equalizer.
“We’ve been working on moving to the ball at every single practice and it’s really sticking to the girls. I mean, if you watch [Rocci] out there, she digs for every single ball and she’s getting it every single time,” said Smith. “They’re all workhorses.”
One of the players is center back Townsend who both anchored the defensive and recorded the assist on Rocci’s goal.
“I think I think the team is feeling good about themselves. A tie against Reading, for us, is a victory for sure. That means we’re kind of in with the big dogs. So, it’s amazing. It’s really amazing,” she said.
Belmont’s next game is Tuesday, Oct. 18 away at Arlington away before coming home on Thursday vs. Woburn. The final week of the season finds Belmont in an important away match with Lexington on Monday, Oct. 24 and the finale at home welcoming the Grey Ghosts of Westford Academy on Thursday, Oct. 27.
“I just hope that we can keep the momentum going and the games that we won the first time and kind of just keep the fire that we had on the field tonight,” said Smith.