Belmont High Field Hockey Dismantles Durfee, 7-0, In MIAA Div. 1 Playoff Opener; Next Central Catholic Tuesday

Photo: The ball heading for the back of the net from Brynn Connelly, one of seven Belmont scored against Durfee in its 7-0 shutout first round match in the MIAA Division 1 state championship.

Six different players scored as Belmont High School Field Hockey used a total team effort to dismantle Fall River’s Durfee High, 7-0, in the opening round of the MIAA Division 1 state tournament held on Harris Field, Nov. 2.

“People are going to look at this result and say, ‘Maybe we should be looking at this team,” said Jess Smith, who has been leading the Belmont program for the past 20 years.

With the win, 11th ranked Belmont (15-3-1) heads to Lawrence for a Sweet 16 match against 6th seed Central Catholic (15-2-1) , who squeaked by Westford Academy, 2-1, on Thursday. Belmont defeated Westford, 2-0, in mid-September.

The game will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. on Central Catholic’s campus.

Belmont senior Gretchen Hanley leads the break out against Durfee High in the MIAA Div. 1 first round playoff game which the Marauders’ won 7-0

On a cold, calm evening, Belmont displayed from the start a combination of speed on the break out, a smothering defense across the pitch, and a rediscovered scoring touch that left Durfee with little in terms of answers the Marauders’ dominance. If the Hilltoppers had a game plan entering the game, it was swiftly thrown aside by a Belmont team held possession for most of the first quarter.

Sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Clarke picked up her brace early scoring twice within the first seven minutes of the match, scoring from distance from both the left and right side. Her second at 8:02 in the first was via a bullet reverse backhand which was helped by senior co-Capt. Carly Gaziano’s near total screen on the ‘topper’s goalie.

Team mates surround Belmont High senior co-Capt; Lola Rocci after the senior co-captain scored the Marauders’ fourth of seven goals against Durfee.

When senior co-captain Lola Rocci scored the team’s fourth catching the outside left post midway through the second quarter, the rout was officially on. The Marauders would score in each of the quarters as senior defender Brenna Aiello, senior attack Gretchen Hanley, and junior forward Brynn Connelly each earned their way onto the goal tally sheet. Senior co-Capt. Carly Gaziano picked up a pair of assists along with her goal and senior co-Capt., Tess Desantis playing a dominate role in a defensive mid

Senior Goalie Julia Hurlihy earned her second career playoff shut out as the defensive back line of first year Elsie Lakin-Shultz and sophomore Niamh Lesnik used their outstanding speed to shut down attacks down the wings while Junior Ana Hopkins held down the fort at center back.

Passing has been a hallmark of Belmont’s play in the second half of the season; Senior co-Capt. Tess Desantis reversing the field of play vs. Durfee.

“I don’t think we’ve ever scored seven goals in a tournament game,” said Smith, who earned her 200th career win this season. “What I love is that a bunch of different players scored.”

When asked about the season so far, Smith reiterated that “all year we’ve been beating all the teams with the exception of Watertown and Reading, who have one loss between them.”

No one’s really noticing us. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe we’ll sneak in and do some real damage the rest of the way in the tournament.”

Zzzzzz: How your senior captains look when a playoff game starts at 7:15 p.m. on a school night.

Pink Out! Field Hockey Holding Breast Cancer Awareness Fundraiser On Tuesday, Oct. 10


The Belmont High School Field Hockey team will hold a breast cancer awareness fundraiser on Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m. during its game with out-of-league opponent Brookline High at Harris Field.

Proceeds from a bake sale, a 50/50 raffle, and donations will go to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Organization, which focuses on patient navigation and advocacy, providing resources for breast cancer patients to understand the American medical system.

If you are coming to the game, wear pink!

‘Coach Mac’ Earns 200th Win As She Starts Her 20th Year Coaching Belmont High Field Hockey

Photo: Belmont High School Field Hockey Coach Jess Smith after winning her 200th win as she starts her 20th season.

Jess Smith never really thought about the number of wins she’s accumilated as she’s entered her 20th campaign helming the Belmont High School Field Hockey team.

“I probably think more about the losses,” said Smith, affectionally known as “Coach Mac” by her players and the hundred of alums who played on Harris Field.

“Coach Mac”

Over those two decades, Smith has only twice missed the MIAA tournament, reaching the Division 2 North championship game also twice. During those years, she has helped send more players off to Division 1 programs and college squads than any other team in Belmont High.

Curiosity around the athletic department on just how many victories Smith had pocketed in her 19 years started last year. After going to the MIAA website and through microfilm in the Belmont Public Library, the number of victories in the regular season and playoffs tallied 199.

Smith’s first chance at hitting 200 wins would be the season opener at Stoneham on Wednesday, Sept. 6. But last week’s heat wave forced a postponement with the Spartans, and the first game of the year would be the home opener on Friday, Sept. 8 vs. Melrose.

On Friday, Belmont got off to a quick start, scoring four times in the first quarter, led by sophomore midfielder MacKenzie Clarke, who bagged the first of her hattrick after three minutes.

Belmont High Sophomore Midfielder MacKenzie Clarke

“It’s a great way to start the season, especially knowing how tough the league always is,” said Clarke, who had a six-point afternoon with three assists. Senior co-captain Carly Gaziano had a brace, while senior Gretchen Hanley and junior Brynn Connolly each tallied.

But it was when the on-field horn marked the end of a 7-0 victory that the team surprised Smith with the news she entered the circle of coaches with a double century of victories.

“I had no idea [it was the 200th]. I really haven’t thought of it,” said Smith after the game. “When the kids told me it was the 200th, I told them I didn’t score one of the goals that got us the 200 wins. But it has been awesome being on the sidelines for the 200 wins, I’ll tell you that.”

Just 15 hours after the first game, Belmont was in Stoneham for the rare Middlesex League game on grass. And for nearly the first half, the ground-up turf was winning as the Marauders were finding the grass and the heat and humidity a bit taxing.

But Belmont finally broke through twice in the final four minutes, first from Connolly with the second coming from senior captain Lola Rocci on a penalty corner with no time left on the clock to go up 2-0 at the break. A goal early in the second half, followed by two in the fourth quarter, ended with Smith’s 201st victory, a 5-0 shutout.

Belmont High Senior Forward Lola Rocci

Rocci joined Clark with a hat trick on Saturday, while senior goaltender Julia Herlihy starts the season with a pair of clean sheets.

Belmont now heads into the cauldron of its season with three away games, starting with powerhouse Watertown on Monday, Sept. 11, followed by Winchester on Wednesday, and finally away to Westford Academy before coming home to meet Reading on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Belmont High Fall Sports Wrap: Field Hockey, Girls’ Soccer, Volleyball, X-C

Photo: Senior Bridget Gray running onto the pitch in Franklin during Belmont High Girls’ Soccer’s first round MIAA Division 1 match against the Panthers

Field Hockey

After an exciting 1-0 win over Arlington in the first round of the MIAA Div. 1 playoff, Belmont High Field Hockey traveled to the cold and windswept hill country west of Worcester to take on fourth-ranked Wachusetts Regional.

But there wasn’t anything sweet in the Sweet 16 match against the Mountaineers. Despite trailing 2-0 at the half, the 13th-ranked Marauders were still in the game as they stepped up their midfield play in the second quarter. But minutes into the third quarter, a Belmont player was hit on the head by a rising, high stick resulting in the injured player being taken off the field via an ambulance. (The player is OK, as she was well enough to attend homecoming later in the week, albeit with three stitches on her forehead.)

A team member recalled,” We were so freaked out that all we wanted to do was pack up and go home.” The final 25 minutes was a proforma affair and the Marauders’ season ended in a 4-0 loss and an 11-6-3 record.

Despite all the drama of the last game, the team finished the season nearly doubling the six wins from 2021 while securing its first tournament victory since 2017. The team will bring back a substantial selection of high-impact players in 2023, said Jess Smith, who completed her 19th year as head coach.

“This team of multi-sport hardworking athletes surpassed how well I thought we’d do this year,” said Smith.

“They were a group of unselfish players who used speed, endurance, will, and aggression to get it done out there. They were led by a fabulous trio of captains [Layne Doherty, Devin Kelleher and Willa Sama] who kept things fun but goal oriented. They went into every game believing they could get it done. Eleven wins in a Middlesex season is phenomenal. I’ll miss this graduation class and I’m pumped for next year,” said Smith.

Girls’ Soccer

It’s tough enough for a new coach to take the reins of a successful program, but Belmont High Girls’ Soccer Head Coach Jemmy Cange would have to do it with an injury list that would make a physical therapist rich. Nearly half of the team’s projected starters and other past varsity players sat out the entire season or significant portions of 2022.

Despite an injury cloud that hung over the team, the Belmont Girls’ returned to the playoffs with a 9-9-1 record and a tournament victory. It’s a team with some impressive results in the year – an away 4-0 victory over 12-win Arlington and capturing the title on Soccer Night In Belmont – which will return a solid defense that will join two of the best young attacking forwards in the Middlesex League.

Belmont started the postseason hosting Brockton in a play-in match, coming away with a dominant 3-1 victory with sophomore Anna Santos scoring the brace. The first of her goals came in the opening half when she directed the ball into the net. The second will be Santos’ easiest in high school as the inexperienced Boxer goalie whiffed on a clearing attempt which dribbled to a surprised Santos, who flicked it into the wide-open net. Finally, Gray scored from the corner kick when the goalie bundled her cross into the net.

Ranked 25th in the 32 MIAA Division 1 field, Belmont’s round of 32 match was at 8th-seeded Franklin. The teams were evenly matched in the first 20 minutes, with Belmont having the first shots on the net. But the Panthers would gradually take control before scoring midway through the half on a shot just out of the reach of Belmont’s ‘keeper Yuval Golani. Belmont’s best chance came from star freshman Danica Zicha who, despite tight marking, hit a shot heading for the low left corner that took a superb parry by Franklin’s goalie to keep Belmont off the scoreboard. The shortest player on the pitch, Franklin’s junior striker Anya Zub, would finish off the Marauders with the hat trick to secure the 4-0 win.

“It was tough. With all our injuries, this was going to be hard to pull off, and we just got beat up by a tougher team. But I am so proud of them, the way they kept being positive,” Cange said of the game.

The injuries may not have allowed the Marauders to reach their true potential, but Cange is optimistic about next season’s team.

“We have many sophomores and juniors that have a lot of talent and energy. I’m just hoping in the next year everyone can come back healthy, and let’s shoot for another great season.”

Senior Capt. Bridget Gray said she always wanted to play on the same team as her two older sisters.

“And being on it was even more than I could have ever dreamed of. All these girls are my best friends in the world. I’m so upset right now because we all just want another practice, another game with each other,” she said as the team left the field for the final time.

“We all just loved spending every minute of every day together, and we’re going to miss it a lot.”


Volleyball is a game that involves sending the ball back and forth over a net. And for Belmont High, Volleyball was a season of moving back and forth over the .500 mark as the Marauders attempted to continue participating in the Division 1 tournament since 2017. Unfortunately, renovation delays made it all the more difficult as the team’s home court at the Wenner Field House was unavailable for games and practices for more than a month. However, the Marauders would finally punch its playoff ticket with clutch victories in the season’s final two games – both at home – to finish the season at 9-8.

Once securing a spot in the tournament, the Marauders would find themselves slouching towards Cape Cop during afternoon rush hour traffic to play a first-round contest against perennial powerhouse Barnstable.

“We weren’t all having an ‘on the game’ against Barnstable, which we would’ve needed to win,” said Head Coach Jen Couture, as Belmont lost in straight sets, 25-19, 25-10.

“But we still put up a decent fight,” said the long-time coach. “In the first set, we were down 2-14 after a tremendous serving run by Barnstable. But we shook it off and came all the way back to 19 which made things pretty exciting,” said Couture.

Cross country

Belmont High Sophomore Jared Rife emerged as the team leader of the Boys’ Cross Country, qualifying for the Division 1 state championship by taking 6th – breaking 16 minutes (15:55.8) on the 5K course – in the Division 1B qualifier, the youngest runner of the top 10 finishers of the race. As a result, Rife is the sole Belmont High harrier at the state championships being held on Nov. 19.

The Boys’ team finished the Middlesex League duel meet season at 4-2 while placing 4th in the League meet. Seniors Ronnie Rubinshtein and Jason Kim were consistent 2-3 scorers, while sophomores Mark Chumack, Ian Hettenbach, and Ben Palmer – each scoring in the Middlesex meet – gained varsity experience for a team that next year has the potential of being a junior-fueled juggernaut.

The Belmont High Girls season finished in 9th in the Middlesex League meet with junior Keira Healey leading the way, followed by two youngsters, 9th graders Alyssa Kresse and Riley Morgan while at the qualifier, juniors Northanna Strautmann and Clara Roth secured points.

The season’s other highlight wasn’t a race or result but the team’s new home course at Rock Meadow Conservation Land. The double figure eight three mile course allows ample viewing opportunities and is an esthetic winner.

Belmont High Field Hockey 4th Qtr Tally Downs SpyPonders, 1-0, In First-Round Playoff Victory

Photo: Belmont High players celebrates Lola Rocci’s (No. 4) game winner as the Marauders defeated Arlington, 1-0, in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 state field hockey championship.

Belmont High junior forward Lola Rocci slotted a pass from senior co-capt. Devin Kelleher for the games only goal 17 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the 13th-ranked Marauders a hard-earned 1-0 shutout victory over 20th-ranked Arlington High at Harris Field on Friday, Nov. 4 in the MIAA Division 1 state championships.

“That was a whole team win,” Belmont Head Coach Jess Smith told the team after the well deserved first-round victory over the co-ed SpyPonders. “It wasn’t our best play but you put all the effort out there.”

Belmont (11-4-3) will travel more than 50 miles past Worcester to Wachusett Regional High to battle the 4th-ranked Mountaineers (15-3-2) at 6 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Wachusett defeated Durfee High, 3-0, on Friday in its first round match.

Lola Rocci (left) reacts to her winning goal against Arlington

Having met league opponent Arlington twice in the season – a 4-1 home win and a 3-3 draw away – there was no expectation that familiarity would breed contempt by the Marauders as the SpyPonders came into the playoffs on a high, recording a 4-1-2 record in its final seven games including a defeat of top-ten Reading and ties against playoff bound Winchester. Much of Arlington’s improvement came as the result from the inclusion of two young men, seniors Austin Cronin and Sean McCadffrey, whose speed and strength allowed the SpyPonders to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball, including freeing up impressive sophomore forward/midfield Libby Corsetti to play a major role on defense while driving forward on offense.

Arlington started the game on the front foot, pressing Belmont in the first half as the Marauders relied on its defenders – junior Alex Townsend, senior co-capt. Willa Sama and senior Alina Maier – and junior goalie Julia Herlihy to hold the fort as the Marauders got off on its now typical slow start.

“We have to start off with our best and not go better, better, better than best,” said Smith.

Belmont’s Alex Townsend prepares to strike the ball after stoning Arlington’s Austin Cronin (30) in the final minutes of Belmont’s 1-0 playoff win.

With the SpyPonders exploiting the left side of the field, Belmont midfielders junior Tess Desantis (on the critical right side), senior co-capt. Layne Doherty and freshman MacKenzie Clarke fell back to assist the defenders who kept the ball off of Arlington’s sticks. Twice in the first half Herlihy stoned Arlington forwards at her doorstep, once clearing the ball from the goal line. Only in the final minutes of the second quarter did Belmont have a pair of strong attempts at Arlington’s goal.

If Belmont starts a match with the “lack of urgency” expected from a tournament team, according to Smith, the second half of matches has been Belmont’s time to take charge. The Marauders began winning the 50/50 balls and turned up its offense that was equally impressive down the wings and through the middle.

With the game in the balance, Belmont grabbed the lead at the start of the fourth. Receiving a pass from junior Carly Gaziano, Kelleher raced 35 meters up the heart of the SpyPonders midfield before pushing the ball to the on-rushing Rocci who buried the ball just inside the left post.

For the remaining 14 minutes, Belmont continued to press its advantage while limiting Arlington’s possessions with its collective defense. Its stalwart performance was highlighted by a critical sequence in the final minutes when Arlington’s Cronin broke through a gap in the Marauder midfield with only Townsend between him and a clear breakaway. But Cronin’s attempt to play a long ball and sprint to the goal was thawed as Townsend – a starter on the 2021 state rugby championship team – stood her ground cleanly stopping the ball as Cronin stumbled by.

The final minutes saw the Marauders capitalize on its doggedness to keep the ‘Ponders’ at bay. The team rushed Herlihy at the final horn as Belmont celebrated its first playoff victory since 2018.

Belmont High Field Hockey Host Arlington Coed Team In Playoff Clash, Friday 4:30PM

Photo: Belmont High scores vs Lexington in 2-1 away victory

The 13th-ranked Belmont High Field Hockey squad will host a first round match of the MIAA Division 1 state tournament against the mixed gender team from neighboring Arlington High at Harris Field on Friday, Nov. 4 at 4:30 p.m.

At 10-4-3, the Marauders are coming off a demanding final fortnight of the season including a come from behind win over tournament bound Lexington (2-1) and draws against Westford Academy (1-1), top-ten Reading (1-1) and Arlington.

Friday’s game will be the third time the Marauders take the pitch against the Spy Ponders having beat them at Harris, 4-1, before losing a 3-2 lead in the final minute to go away with a 3-3 tie.

What changed in the second game was Arlington’s inclusion of two senior young men into the line up. “They were the difference maker,” said Marauders’ Head Coach Jess Smith, as one boy – standing nearly 6 feet tall and weighing 180 lbs – scored Arlington’s first goal as he roamed the entire field outpacing and overpowering the young women of both teams.

Boys are allowed to compete on girls’ teams as a result of a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Attorney General v. Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. The 1979 ruling stated that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s policy of the time stating “No boy may play on a girls’ team” was unlawful, violating the Equal Rights Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution.

While approximately 40 boys play field hockey yearly out of 8,000 participants, recent history showed how dominate a co-ed team can be against a girls team. Somerset/Berkley Regional won the 2018 and 2019 state Division 1 championship with two boys – including the coach’s son – who consistently rode roughshod over girls teams, scoring approximately 200 goals while giving up less than 10 in league play.

The day of boys’ participating in the girls game appear ready to end as the MIAA recognized in 2021 boy’s field hockey – a 7×7 version of the game – which could be up and running by next year.

Late Minute Tie Vs Top Ten Reading Has Belmont Field Hockey Prepped For Playoffs

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.

Belmont High Field Hockey On Five Game Tear Highlighted By Shutout Over Lexington

Photo: Belmont High midfielder Lola Rocci (number 4) in action against Lexington

There’s always a game during the season a team can point where everything comes together: defense, passing and scoring. For the Belmont High Field Hockey squad, that game came on Friday, Sept. 30 when the Marauders’ outclassed a solid Lexington team, 3-0, to earn its first clean sheet of the season and move ever closer to a top playoff spot.

“This is a great confidence builder,” said Belmont Head Coach Jess Smith after a game which her squad dominated all aspects of the game from winning the 50/50 challenges to clogging up the passing lanes and preventing shots on Belmont keeper Julia Herilihy who earned the shut out, the first of two this week as Belmont held Burlington scoreless in a 2-0 victory Thursday, Oct. 6.

The team was especially impressive in their passing game both coming out from the defensive position and on the attack.

“They are learning where each other are on the field and they’re moving to the right places and staying wide. They are trusting each other and it’s really coming together. It’s the best I’ve seen them play,” said Smith after the game.

After an early season bump in the road – that will happen battling three undefeated teams (Watertown, Winchester, Reading) over six days – Belmont High has reached mid-season on a five-game winning streak. The 7-3 Marauders’ are currently ranked 12th in the MIAA state Division 1 standings, its highest ever position in the power ranking era and have matched the number of victories last season.

The Minutemen came to Harris Field on Thursday, Sept. 30 riding their own impressive wave, topping previously unbeaten and top 20-ranked Winchester, 1-0, two days before. Led by sophomore Hannah Ward, the Minutemen attempted to have their star midfielder dictate the middle of the field using her stick skills and speed. But Belmont countered with tight man-on-man coverage that hampered the Minutemen offense.

Belmont found success on the right wing with the Devin Kelleher/Carly Gaziano partnership clicking with passes that caused Lexington trouble through out the match. In the middle of the pitch, freshman midfielder MacKenzie Clark showed her growing confidence in “quarterbacking” the offense in the middle with senior attack Mary Mullan her main target.

It was a stroke of creativity by Clark that broke open the scoring late in the opening quarter. Finding herself heading straight to the goal, rather than striking the ball on the ground, Clark lifted it with a soft flip shot high into the net with 90 seconds remaining in the quarter.

“MacKenzie is figuring out her role on our team and feeling more comfortable there. She’s playing a bigger part in every game with play,” said Smith.

The second 15 minutes was all Marauders as the midfield and defense kept the Minutemen outside the attack zone while opening the field for Belmont’s counters. The Marauders’ second tally was right out of the training field with Kelleher’s cross deep on the right side finding Gaziano rushing in to steer the ball off the post and into the net six minutes into the quarter. Belmont wrapped up the scoring with Gaziano stroking a shot from a scrum out front with 2:44 left in the half.

For the final 30 minutes, Belmont was never challenged with the defense led by senior Alex Townsend holding down the center of the defensive pitch. Smith pointed to the play of midfielder Lola Rocci, “an offensive player who comes back on defense and makes great plays like connecting with Kelleher and Gaziano or make a great run with the ball,” said Smith.

Rocci said that with each game, the players have become more discipline in how they position themselves on the pitch.

“I think we have more awareness in the field. I feel like I know where Devin, MacKenzie and Mary are going to be when I have the ball or when they are looking to pass. And that is making us a better team,” she said.

Belmont High Field Hockey Opens Season 2-0 With Rival Watertown Set For Friday Night Visit

Photo: Belmont High Forward Mary Mullan scoring her second and the team’s fifth against Stoneham in the Marauders’ 6-1 win.

Under a brilliant late summer afternoon, Belmont High’s Field Hockey squad got off an equally bright start to the 2022 season with a dominating performance against Stoneham, 7-1, at Harris Field on Thursday, Sept. 7.

The team would follow up with an away win, 3-1, at Melrose, on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

“Great way to begin the season especially how our offense looks. They really worked hard, always tooking to take the shot,” said Jess Smith, who is now in her 19th year at the helm of the Marauders.

Forwards Mary Mullins and Carly Gaziano each earned a brace joining Alex Townsend, Lola Rocci (2 assists) and MacKenzie Clark on the scoresheet with freshman center midfield Clark accepting the role of “quarterback” in directing the Marauder attack.

“MacKenzie’s amazing. She’s very unselfish, and sometimes she passes too much. I’d wish he’d be a bit more selfish in the attack,” said Smith.

Belmont broke open the scoring in the final five minute in the first quarter with three goals starting with Gaziano scoring with a push shot in close.

“It was really fun passing and connecting with my teammates,” said Gaziano.

In Melrose, left wing Gaziano found the back of the net two more times in the first and third quarter, surrounding Devin Kelleher‘s first of the season in the first quarter. Smith noted the performance of Tess Desantis in the midfield controling the ball while getting two assists.

While Belmont has had the run of play for its first games, that may not be the rule when the Marauders “welcome” the reigning Division 3 state champions Watertown which comes to Harris Field under the Friday Night Lights on Sept. 16. A week ago, Belmont’s neighbor defeated the Boston Globe’s preseason number one team, Andover, 2-1, in what has been called the “Battle of the Giants.”

Smith said her chief task is to have her team focus on what they have control over, being athletic in disrupting Watertown’s relentless attack and protecting goalie Julia Herlihy.

“It’s Watertown so it’s going to be tough,” said Smith.

Belmont Volleyball, Boys’ Soccer, Field Hockey Early Outs In Fall Tourney Play

Photo: Belmont High’s Field Hockey after the game verses Concord-Carlisle.

“Three and out” is a common American football phrase describing the failure of a team to make a first down on three plays and then punts. And this past week, Belmont’s three teams were ousted from the fall 2021 tournament season after their first matches of the post season.

Field Hockey: There could not have been a more perfect fall day for a field hockey match in New England this past Friday: a cloudless sky, autumn colors, last bit of sunlight on a cool afternoon. Only one thing could spoil the day for the Belmont High Field Hockey Marauders: going against a top-five opponent in host Concord-Carlisle.

And the number three-seed in the Division 1 tourney beat the 30th-ranked Marauders, 5-0, with a assertive performance.

The Colonials pressed the play at the beginning of the first and third quarters and was rewarded with three goals. CC’s dominance on the pitch was evident in the nearly two dozen penalty corners they took as to the pair Belmont had. While one sided, the Marauders held their own for long stretches against their traditional pre-season game opponent.

“I’m proud of this team. They never stopped playing despite the score,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith.

Boys Soccer: Things looked promising for the Marauders as Peabody Veterans Memorial High came to Harris Field minus one of its top offensive players and 20 minutes into the match a Tanner picked up a red card and was ejected from the match.

But despite the man advantage for three quarters of the match, Belmont could not find the back of the net despite a furious attack on the Tanner’s goal while at the other end, the visitors netted the game-winner off a direct kick. The hero for Peabody was goalie Paul Drilon who stood on his head in the final 40 minutes including a twisting save off a deflection near the end of the game to preserve the clean sheet.

Belmont’s season saw first year Head Coach Niman Kenkre bringing up players from the junior varsity to fill the injuries and illnesses that left half of his veteran varsity players on the sideline at one time or another. He gave especial praise to Charlie November, his senior defender who was injured for a good part of the season but continued to push his teammates from the sideline and in practice.

Volleyball: A trip into the recesses of far-away Sudbury saw Belmont push the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional Warriors in the final two sets before falling in three, 25-16, 25-23, 25-23. Belmont came into the match on a seven-game losing streak which will have to end next campaign as the squad could not find that final push to take a set.

Seniors Katherine Bai (9 kills in the game/125 season kills), Megan Kornberg (17 digs vs. L/S, 330 for the season and 16 serve receptions) and setter extraordinaire Andy Li (227 assists in the season) were outstanding in their final high school game while underclass players Sophia Liu (117 kills), Ava Dolan (209 assists) and Isabella Radojevic (96 kills, 196 digs and 57 service aces) will be coming back in 2022.