Belmont Boys’ Rugby Takes State Title Over Arch-Rival BC High, 20-7; Fourth Title In Program History

Photo: The Belmont High School Boys’ Rugby squad celebrate its 2022 MIAA Division 1 State Championship with the tournament trophy.

Boston College High School rugby squad is known as the Eagles, but at MIAA Division 1 state title match, it was the Belmont High ruggers who flew to victory.

In a match where Belmont’s embrace of an all-encompassing kicking game proved decisive against the traditional muscle and brawn style employed by BC High, the Marauders dominated the Eagles, 20-7, on Saturday, June 17, capturing its second MIAA Division 1 state championship and the fourth title in the program’s 15-year history before a boisterous near capacity crowd at Curry College in Milton.

“We had a saying all year: ‘Don’t go through the wall, go over it.’” said senior fly-half and co-captain Erik Rosenmeier who scored twice from penalty kicks and on a pair of conversions resulting in half of Belmont’s points. “And that’s what we did today. Our kicking was amazing.”

Belmont’s kicking strategy which has become an important part of the program’s overall tactics mimics a trend in the professional game where world-class teams and national squads punt to challenge opponents, all a defense to reset and to “flip the field” with deep strikes placing the competitor on the back foot.

While kicking was an effective weapon against BC and St. John’s Prep in the semi-finals, Greg Bruce, Belmont’s head coach since he brought rugby to the school in 2007, pointed to the hard work the Marauders have placed in defense and tackling during the season.

For the past two weeks we coaches built our defensive structure and put it into practice in training,” said Bruce. “The forwards played great, the backs, the defense. It was a team performance to be honest.”

“BC is an amazing team but they rely on their athleticism more than they rely on their skill. They really just want to get the ball and run it hard up the gut and hope we can’t tackle them. And, you know, that’s what we did, stop them,” said Rosenmeier.

Belmont came out of the gate fast and used their inside running to great effect to set up Loose Head Prop Asa Rosenmeier – Erik’s younger brother – to barrel into try from six meters out just four minutes in the match to give Belmont the early 7-0 lead. But 10 minutes later, a series of quick hitting runs by BC allowed senior Jack McNicholl to slalom 30 meters to tie the game at 7-7.

Belmont spent the first half placing the Eagles under pressure with sustained tackling against the BC frontline and a number of clearing punts that kept putting the Eagles behind the midfield line. On the offensive side, the Marauders’ were able to string together drives that got them within kicking range when penalties were called against BC. Bruce didn’t hesitate to put the ball on Rosenmeier’s toe as the senior scored twice at the 23 minute and 32 minute marks as the lead climb to 13-7.

The ability to keep momentum on its side turned out to be critical in Belmont’s final score, a gutsy drive after time expired in the half in which the Marauders’ protected each ruck and finally opened a small gap in the BC line allowing Lock Viktor Insanic to run straight into try to give Belmont a two score lead, 20-7.

The final 35 minutes was a near masterclass by the Belmont XV in denying BC the momentum or big plays needed to get back into the match. When the Eagles threatened 10 minutes into the half, Belmont backs came up with a great stand inside its 22 meter preventing runners from turning the corner, stalling BC’s drive eventually resulting in a Rosenmeier kick that was “knocked on” by an Eagles back giving possession to the Marauders in the BC half.

While BC kept to its strategy of quick, hard hits into the body of Belmont’s line, the tactics proved exhausting to the Eagles which was only compounded by a series of deep kicks that allowed Belmont to reset its defense and force BC to travel ever further to attempt to cut the margin of Belmont’s lead.

“The second half was a little boring; a lot of whistles, we got a yellow card and then it got really, really choppy after that. But they did what mattered most when it mattered most and that’s why we’re here,” said Bruce.

In its final venture close to the try line, Marauders’ Number Eight Max Cornelius made a critical steal ending all of BC’s hopes. Soon after the starters started coming out and the reserves got a chance to be on the pitch for the final whistle.

The 2022 crown joins Belmont’s MIAA Div. 1 state championship won in 2019 and MYRO titles in Division 1 in 2013 and Division 2 in 2011.

“Coming into the season, there’s this kind of pressure. I really wanted to win a state championship to finish my high school career,” said Rosenmeier. “When we lost our very first game to Milton [17-12 on April 8],it was kind of like a wake up call for us that we needed to get our act together. And we just worked our [posterior] off for the rest of the season and now we’re here with this,” said Rosenmeier hold the state trophy.

“Amazing!” he said as the celebration continued on the pitch.

Boys’ Rugby Swept Aside St John’s Prep, 29-7, Next Up BC High In State Finals Saturday

Photo: Belmont High’s Number Eight Max Cornelius scoring his second try of the game as Belmont defeated St. John’s Prep, 29-7, in the MIAA Division 1 Boys’ Rugby semifinals

The combination of a rock solid defense along with an offensive minded kicking attack resulted in three tries in the first 20 minutes as Belmont High Boys’ Rugby rolled to a 29-7 victory over the St. John’s Prep Eagles in the Division 1 state semifinals in front of a packed Harris Field on Friday afternoon, June 10.

Belmont Boys’ will face long-time rivals Boston College High in the Division 1 state championship match at 4 p.m., June 18, at Curry College in Milton. The Boys’ join the Belmont High Girls’ Rugby squad at the finals as the girls seek their fourth consecutive state championship vs Lincoln-Sudbury Regional at 2 p.m.

Belmont High’s long-time Head Coach Greg Bruce anticipated a defensive struggle with the Eagles after meeting them two week before in Danvers, a match where a late try saw Belmont come through with the victory, 15-12.

“They were really physical side and well coached and we knew that they’d have threats all over the field and we just had to play a very tight defensive game,” said Bruce after the match. “We said to the guys what’s going to determine the game is how you’re able to make your tackles … and they did it.”

Belmont clicked on its first venture into St. John’s end as the Marauders’ Number Eight Max Cornelius scooped up the ball from a ruck five meters from the try line and muscled it in at the five minute mark for a 5-0 lead.

The Eagles pressed their advantage after a kick clearance and a Belmont penalty saw them inside of 10 meters to the try only for Belmont’s defensive scheme stop five attempts by the Eagles to score and subsequently successfully holding up an Eagle player on the try line to win the ball.

Belmont showed great finesse with its kicking game which has become an increasingly important part of its game plan allowing the Marauders to relieve defensive pressure. On several occasions, Belmont “flipped the field” by kicking the ball from deep in its defensive end with the ball ending up in St. John’s end of the pitch.

As St. John’s continued to press, the Marauders’ defense stepped up once again as outside center James Barsam intercepted a flat pass and and sprinted 50 meters in the clear for the Marauders’ second try and a 12-0 lead after 15 minutes.

“James has gone for a few of those this year and it hasn’t really worked out. When he did it tonight, one of my coaches leaned over and goes ‘he finally got one’,” said Bruce, praising Barsam by noting that “while there’s other guys that get more credit, James is one of our most solid defenders outside and one of the most hardest positions and channels to defend on the field, which is the outside center.”

Four minutes later, after a costly Prep miscue, Belmont big man, tight head prop Asa Rosenmeier, rumbled in for the try – Belmont’s third – and a commanding 19-0 lead before 20 minutes had passed.

“I was out when we play them three weeks ago and I needed to prove myself,” said Rosenmeier who played the entire 70 minutes.

Bruce noted after the third score, St. John’s Prep changed its defensive set up which disrupted Belmont’s attack. “They put us under pressure. We lost all momentum and fluidity to our game at that point. And it stayed that way for a period of quite a long period of time,” said Bruce

St. John’s would use its passing quickness to set them up after a penalty inside the 10 meters for a successful try to cut the lead to 19-7 at the 26 minute mark. But that was all the Eagles could muster for the rest of the half as the Marauders’ group tackling was outstanding, limiting their opponent to only a handful of runs beyond 10 meters and forcing mistakes in the Eagles’ back.

“For as long as I can remember, our number one priority is defense. We spend more time on our defense this year than any year in the past,” said Bruce. “I said to the boys in the locker room, this is one of the best defensive teams we’ve ever had. And you’re gonna have to play the best game you’ve ever had to earn a spot next weekend. And they did it,”

Through out the remainder of the game, Belmont’s team defense would be challenged only a handful of times with hook Raffi Belorian and left wing Stephen Hong knocking a Prep runner into touch a meter from the try line to end St. John’s best and only threat of the half.

A second try from Cornelius 11 minutes into the second half and a three-point penalty kick from fly-half Erik Rosenmeier at the 60 minute mark punched the Marauders’ ticket to next week’s state finals.

For Bruce and the team, the victory celebration will be short lived.

“We’re gonna enjoy tonight and get back to work tomorrow. BC High is an amazing team,” said Bruce.

“I wouldn’t say we’re favorite just because we beat them in the last game (a 28-21 away victory on May 19),” he said. “BC has a way of putting together a game plan that works when it matters the most. And so, we’ll keep that in mind and try and counter it as best we can.”

For Rosenmeier, the finals will be one more game he gets to play with his brother, senior Erik.

“The emotions, wow. I know I will be nervous but also super excited,” he said. “First time ever playing in a state finals, It’s going to be a great place to be in whether we win or loss. Just playing at Curry is going to be fun.”

Belmont Boys’ Rugby Host St John’s Prep June 10 In Tourney Semis; Girls’ Await State Finals June 18

Photo: Belmont Boys’ and Girls’ ruggers are seeking to repeat the dual state championships in 2019

It’s tournament time and Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ ruggers will be seeking to repeat its dual state championships from 2019.

Second-seed Belmont Boys’ will host third-ranked St. John’s Prep in the MIAA Division 1 semifinals at Harris Field at 6:30 p.m., Friday, June 10. The contest will be a rematch of the final game of the season when Belmont (5-1-0) traveled to Danvers and took down the previously undefeated Eagles,14-12.

If they win next week’s game, the Marauders will head to the D1 state finals on Saturday, June 18 at 4 p.m. at Curry College in Milton, to face the winner of defending champions and number 1 seed Boston College (3-2-0) vs the winner of the Milton High (the only team to defeat Belmont this season)/Xaverian Brothers tussle on June 2.

After going undefeated this season, the Belmont Girls’ are an automatic qualifier to the state Division 1 finals where they will meet the winner of the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional/Brookline High contest. The match will take place on Saturday, June 18 at 2 p.m. at Curry College.

This marks the fourth consecutive trip to the state championship match for the Marauders (5-0-0) where they will seek a four-peat, being victorious in every finals since the sport was accepted in the MIAA in 2017.

Marauders Enter Spring Playoffs With A Pair Of Belmont Favorites At Division 1 North Track Championships

Photo: Belmont High athletes and teams are in playoff and championship action this weekend

A pair of Belmont High field performers and a powerhouse Marauder team will be headlining the return this weekend of sports tournaments and championship meets sponsored by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Senior pole vaulter Sarah Firth will attempt to take the Division 1 North title while junior Sofia Hospodar has the co-longest triple jump in the division this outdoor season at 36-feet, 6-inches. Firth, who won both the All-State and New England titles in 2019, has the best height in the state of 11 feet, 6-inches. Firth will also run the 100-meter hurdles at the meet held in North Andover.

This season marks the return to the pitch of Belmont High Rugby, out to defend its 2019 Division 1 state title. The 4-0 Marauders is the second seed by way of a coin flip with fellow undefeated Milton, the two-time state Division 2 champions who were promoted into the top league this year.

Belmont will host three-seed Boston College High, whose only loss this season was to Belmont, in a semifinal match on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. on Harris Field.

Belmont Boys’ Lacrosse (5-7) will take on hosts North Attleborough High (6-7) in an 8-9 match-up on Friday, June 18 art 4 p.m., with the winner having the tall task of visiting first ranked Medfield High School (14-1) on Monday.

Belmont High Baseball, ranked 21 (3-8), will have a long trek on Friday, June 18, as they hike up to Haverhill to play 12th ranked Whittier Regional Vocational Tech (7-6) at 1 p.m.

Belmont Boys’ Tennis travels to Concord Carlisle at Noon, Friday, June 18, as the hosts, ranked 6th, will challenge number 11 Marauders.

In competition in the D1N meet completed on Thursday, June 17, Belmont junior Jackson Coelho took 4th in the 800 meters in 1-minute, 57.04 seconds while senior Colby Woo cleared 11-feet, 6-inches in the pole vault for 5th.

At the D1N outdoor track championship meet, Belmont Girls’ will be represented by seniors Leya El-Chanati (100, 200 and long jump); Isabel Burger (1 mile), Rachel November (400 hurdles), the 4×800 relay; while seniors Samantha Lim and Knar Krafian joins Firth in the 100 hurdles.

Belmont Playoff Teams Include Baseball At Home (Sort Of) And A Rugby Twofor

Photo: Playoffs in Belmont for the next week.

Baseball will be playing in Belmont, just not where you hoped they would and both Rugby squads are hosting their semifinals as a doubleheader as Belmont High School sports teams are the the midst of tournament action.

On Thursday, June 6, the Belmont High School Baseball Team will host  Masconomet Regional in the MIAA Division 2 North Tournament. But the home game will not take place at Brendan Grant Field. Rather, the game will be played at the Belmont Hill School varsity baseball diamond off Marsh Street. The game begins at 3:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, June 12, Harris Field will be the location of a rare rugby doubleheader as Boys’ and Girls’ Rugby host respective state Division 1 semifinals as both Marauders squads are second seeds in the MIAA playoffs.

The Boys’ will take on Lincoln Sudbury Regional at 5:30 p.m. while the Girls’ hosts Needham at 7:30 p.m.

Belmont Rugby Teams Meet Familiar Rivals In Saturday’s State Finals [VIDEO]

Photo: Senior Scrumhalf Joe Viale racing down the pitch vs. St. John’s Prep

With a pair of dominating performances in the state championship semifinals last week, Belmont High School’s boys’ and girls’ Rugby squads now prepare to meet familiar foes in the state finals in a rare doubleheader where girls and boys high school teams will be seeking championships on the same day this Saturday, June 23.

The number one-ranked boys’ (6-0) in Division 1 will meet defending championships and second seed Boston College High School (5-1) in the late match of the three championship finals taking place at Newton South High School at 4 p.m

In the middle match at 2 p.m., the first seed and defending champs Belmont (7-0) is match up against second-ranked Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School (5-2) in the Division 1 Girls’ finals. 

The Belmont teams earned their place in the championship match with convincing victories in the semifinals that took place at Harris Field. On Tuesday, June 12, Belmont’s girls’ defeated the Needham High squad, 54-7, in a game that was more competitive than the earlier encounter between the teams.

Saturday’s opponent Lincoln Sudbury has been the one team which has placed the most pressure on the Marauders. It took Gabby Viale‘s ten-meter “tap and go” dash up the middle for a try on the last play of the game to give Belmont a 17-12 away victory on April 25. In the reverse fixture on June 12, Belmont’s defense and tackling kept a surging Warriors’ at bay for the 14-12 win, the margin of victory provided by junior Johanna Matulonis‘ converting both two-point conversion kicks after trys. 

Belmont will be relying on Senior Scrumhalf Jessica Rosenstein – who will be playing collegiately at national champs Lindenwood next year – to deliver the ball to the backline and direct the offense. Expect the team to rely on Number 8 Grace Christensen to take inside runs while Viale will be relied on to continue her season-long game-breaking runs while the back row wingers – highlighting juniors Hannah Hlotyak, Clare Martin, and Kiera Booth – will play a central role advancing the ball. 

The Marauders will need to protect the ruck – when a runner is stopped, their teammates attempt to push back the opponents so the scrumhalf can release the ball to the back row – and win the scrum when Belmont’s front eight players battle Lincoln-Sudbury’s front eight for the ball. 

On defense, watch for Belmont tackling attempt to counter the speed and physical nature of the Warriors.

If there is one advantage Belmont will carry into the game will be its experience – Saturday will be consecutive championship matches for nearly all the players on the field – and knowledge of the game which will 

Belmont Boys’ completed the season undefeated and rarely challenged in the late going of matches. And they showed its superiority in the semifinals as they dispatched St. John’s Prep High, 33-3, on Wednesday.

Boston College High squeaked into the championship game with a 12-10 semifinal victory over Lincoln Sudbury. Belmont defeated the Eagles on a rainy April 25, 26-14, with BC High scoring a late try. 

The Marauders will look to its senior front-runners, captain and flanker Will Lozano and scrumhalf Joe Viale, who will provide leadership by example on both sides of the ball, leading the attack into the heart of the BC High squad while being the first line of defense with an emphasis on stealing the ball from the ruck or during the run of play. 

And it will be in the ruck, side out and especially the scrum where Belmont will attempt to continue its season-long dominance. Despite being outweighed by BC High and St. John’s Prep by a significant amount, the forwards – front row Jake Parsons, Ryuichi Ohhata, and Mark Morash; locks Andra Duda and Maxwell Baskerville; flankers Connor Shea and Lozano; and 8-man Sam Sagherian – have controlled the majority of scrum restarts by working in concert as a single unit, resulting in the Marauders dictating how the game is played.

Look for Belmont to control the line-outs with Baskerville as the jumper who is lifted to capture the ball. Center back Sam Harris and wings Joe Altomare will give Belmont a great amount of pace in the open field. 

And the Marauders is expected to have an advantage in the kicking game as senior flyhalf Laurent Brabo has been hitting conversions and penalty kicks from well past 30 meters.

Rugby: Boys’ Outplay Defending Champ BC High; Final Play Gives Girls’ Win Over L-S

Photo:Senior flyhalf Laurent Brabo running for Belmont’s first try against BC High.

In a battle of rugby royalty, Belmont High Boys’ is wearing the crown after a convincing 26-14 victory over defending Division 1 state champions Boston College High School on a soaked Harris Field, Wednesday, April 25.

After defeating last season’s number 1 and 2 teams (the Marauders thrashed St. John’s Prep, 38-23) in its first two matches of the season, Belmont can claim the top spot in Division 1 in Massachusetts.

While both teams had its hands full with the wet conditions, Belmont’s skill and tactics won out against the Eagles. As with their game against St. John’s Prep, it was Belmont’s dominance controlling the scrum where Belmont’s front seven was outweighed by both prep schools highlighting the Marauders’ control of the game.

Senior flyhalf Laurent Brabo eluded two BC High defenders to scamper 40 meters for Belmont initial try at the 11-minute mark and then easily converted the two-point conversion kick. (Brabo is fast becoming the program’s best ever kicker having scored a 45-meter penalty kick.)

It took the Marauders only five minutes to double the score to 14-0 when after soon after a great kick to touch to advance the ball near the BC High goal line, senior Sam Harris punched to through to score Belmont’s second try.

BC High halved the lead to 14-7 during its longest possession of the game, but Belmont would not be denied its third score when Will Lozano ran up the middle with five minutes remaining in the half to make the score 21-7. 

Both teams came close to score in the initial 10 minutes of the second half but dropped balls and great defensive stances by the Eagles and Marauders halted the threats, Belmont would finish its scoring in the 57th minute to raise the score to 26-7 before BC High used some brute force to register its second try two minutes into extra time.

Girls’ Use Last Play To Eek Out Victory At Lincoln-Sudbury

On the final play of a game, Belmont High’s junior fullback Gabriella Viale tapped the ball to herself and scored the match-winning try as Belmont’s Girls’ Rugby defeated hosts Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, 17-12, in a contest played in a constant downpour on Wednesday, April 25.

Despite finding itself down 12-10 in the final 20 minutes, “[The team] was impressive since no one lost their cool, they never panicked. They were always composed,” said Belmont head coach Kate McCabe of her team.

After defeating its first two opponents by a combined 138-0, Belmont soon discovered the Warriors – which the Marauders squeaked out a 10-5 home victory last year – were ready to take on the defending state champions.

“They were really tough and super aggressive at the start of the game,” said Viale, who said the game certainly affected by the heavy rain with many dropped balls. 

Belmont took the lead 5-0 through Viale before the Warriors tied the match at 5 going into the half. Junior Number Eight Grace Christensen gave Belmont the lead, 10-5, with a strong try early in the second half only to see Lincoln-Sudbury score and make the conversion kick to go ahead 12-10. 

“It took a little while to get used to what they were doing but in the final 20 minutes we were playing within their 20 [meter],” said McCabe.

While they were on the front foot, Belmont waited until the games final seconds to score. A penalty was called on the Warriors near its goal line allowing Belmont to restart play as Lincoln-Sudbury was running back to line up defensively. Rather than pass the ball back, Viale tapped the ball with her boot and sprinted for the try. With Calista Weissman’s conversation kick, the ref blew the final whistle.

Belmont’s rematch with Lincoln Sudbury is May 30 at Harris Field.