Third Soccer Night In Belmont Set for Harris Field, Saturday, Sept 29

Photo: The procession to the field

The Belmont High School Boys and Girls Varsity soccer teams will headline the third annual Soccer Night in Belmont on Saturday, September 29, joined at the event by hundreds of younger players from Belmont 2nd Soccer and the Belmont Soccer Association, their coaches, and other members of the Belmont soccer community.

Soccer Night in Belmont will feature a doubleheader under the lights at Harris Field against Middlesex League rivals Arlington: a Boys’ game at 4:30 p.m. followed by a Girls’ game at 6:30 p.m. 

Belmont youth soccer players will participate by parading out with players during the pre-game ceremonies, acting as ball-boys and ball-girls, and competing in mini-games on Harris Field during halftime of both games. Arlington Soccer Club youth soccer players will also participate in the pre-game ceremonies and other activities.

“This event showcases our varsity teams and recognizes the role of Belmont 2nd Soccer and BSA in nurturing the talent that makes up these teams year in and year out,” said event organizer John Carson. 

“We hope to exceed last year’s crowd of more than 1,500, and it will be a really fun night that builds bonds between our ‘little kid’ players and ‘big kid’ high school players, virtually all of whom came up through the Belmont youth program.  In fact, one great highlight is always that our high school players wear wristbands during the game that match the color of their Belmont 2nd Soccer team,” said Carson.

Admission to Soccer Night in Belmont is free. Concessions including pizza, hot dogs, snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, provided by Parents of Music Students (POMS) so families can come for the games and feed the kids at the same time.

Soccer Night in Belmont is sponsored by Belmont 2nd Soccer, Belmont Soccer Association, Belmont Savings Bank, The Rising, Phoenix Landing, with special thanks to Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS) and Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis.

Sports Quick Hits: Volleyball On A Streak; Girls’ Soccer Rebounds; Boys’ Soccer’s First Fall

Photo: Jane Mahon doing what she does best; control the net.

A brief snapshot of the latest in Belmont High sports.

Volleyball on Record Streak; Mahon Sets Second Career Mark

Belmont High Volleyball is on a record streak at the start to the 2018 season. The Marauders’ 3-0 win over Lexington (25-21, 25-18, 25-22) on Monday, Sept. 17, ups Belmont’s record to 5-0, the best start in the program’s history and ties the longest win streak which occurred in 2014. The squad will host 4-2 (4-1 in the league) Winchester at 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Wenner Field House.

Senior co-captain Jane Mahon broke the team’s career blocking record in the Lexington match. This achievement goes along with her team kills career record, both which will increase with 14 games still remaining in the regular season.

Girls’ Soccer Rebounds Against Lexington, 5-0

After Saturday morning’s frustrating defeat to Woburn, losing 3-2 after leading 2-0 at the half, Belmont Girls’ Soccer (3-1-1) took out its frustrations on visiting Lexington, scoring five times against the Minutemen. Senior forward Ella Gagnon continues her hot scoring with a pair of goals and an assist with senior wing Morgan Krause and sophomore Jenna Thomas – scoring in consecutive games – rounding out the goals. Senior goalie Chloe Tingos earned the shutout. Middlesex Liberty leader Winchester (5-0-0), ranked 9th in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll, will host the Marauders’ on Thursday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m.

First defeat for fast starting Boys’ Soccer

After a smart 4-0 run to start the season, the Belmont Boys’ Soccer team (4-1-0) took a trip to Lexington where its lack of offensive punch – 7 goals in those four games – came back to haunt them falling to the 4-1-0 Minutemen, 3-0, on Monday. Despite the loss, Belmont senior keeper Tomas Griffin was named a Player of the Week in the Globe, noting he “helped the eighth-ranked Marauders (4-1) record shutouts of Middlesex League rivals Stoneham and Woburn.” Another tough scrap to come on Thursday, Sept. 20, when the Boys greet Winchester (4-1-2) to the Harris at 4 p.m.

Belmont Girls’ Soccer Falls 1-0 To Woburn in Playoff Opener

Photo: Senior Carey Allard at the end of the game with Woburn.

Using a physical shutdown defense and capitalizing with a stylish goal on one of its two shots on net, Woburn High Girls’ Soccer upended favorites and hosts Belmont, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 North sectional playoffs held on a breezy, chilly Harris Field on Saturday, Nov. 4.

On a night which third-seed Belmont held a distinct advantage in the run of play, the Marauders frustrating lack of a finishing touch set it up for an early exit from the playoff picture at the hands of the sixth-ranked Tanners.

“We did everything but score,” said Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham after he spent 10 minutes addressing his emotional players on the field after the game.

“So many shots and passes inside the six [meter goal area] and none of them went in,” he said.

Belmont finishes its season at 14-3-0 while Woburn (13-5-1) continues its playoff run in the semi-finals against Middlesex League foe Winchester on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Both teams came into the game after disappointing performances; the Marauders suffered its worst defeat of the year, 4-1, at Winchester in the final game of the season while Woburn – which had led the Middlesex League race five games earlier – came to Harris Field on a 0-4-1 run without a goal during that streak.

The game was tightly played on both sides without much offensive rhythm or flow as Woburn kept its eye on Belmont’s senior forward Carey Allard who is a favorite to be named league MVP. On the other side, the Tanners found it hard to break the Marauders steady backline of senior co-captain Natalie Marcus-Bauer, junior Megan Tan, and senior Emily Duffy. 

But it was Woburn who took advantage of an opening midway through the first half. The Tanner’s Kelsey Long took a diagonal pass from a teammate and before the Marauders could switch defenders hit an open right foot shot 20 meters out that curled past Marauder goalkeeper Chloe Tingos into the left corner of the net.

Belmont nearly got the goal right back when a corner kick was headed by junior Ella Gagnon that scrapped by the right post by Tanner goalkeeper Kelsey Qualey.

But for most of the next hour, the Tanners relied on its strength by playing with five defenders in front of its net while placing a single player up front. Belmont did come close on several occasions especially early in the second half when senior Morgan Krauss and midfielder co-captain Emma Sass each sent balls through the penalty area that somehow did not find a teammate to close the deal. 

And while co-captain senior Courtney Gray and Allard were able to work well down the left side, they were ultimately met by three and then four Woburn players who cut off the passing lanes and push them outside the penalty area. 

As the final whistle blew, the Marauders were left to watch as Woburn rushed the field to celebrate the upset.

“It’s a great group of kids. I told them this [season] is something they will never forget,” said Graham.

“Belmont is still one of the best teams in the state, I don’t care what anyone says. But you have to score to win,” Graham said as he walked off the pitch. 

Allard Breaks Century Mark As Belmont Girls’ Soccer Downs Rockets, 3-0

Photo: Carey Allard of Belmont.

In her first varsity game as a freshman four years ago, Belmont High senior co-captain Carey Allard scored five goals including the game’s first four in an eight-minute stretch in the first half  and added an assist in the Marauders’ 10-0 blitz of arch-rival Watertown High School.

“She’s going to have some career if she can keep that up,” said Head Coach Paul Graham back in September 2014.

Just how good Allard would be since that hot summer morning was answered on a muggy and damp Tuesday evening, Oct. 24, when the four-year starter broke the career century point mark scoring a brace against visiting Reading High on Seniors Night as Belmont downed the Rockets, 3-0.

The two goals gave the co-captain 101 points with two games remaining in the season and upping her goals this season to 18 with seven assists.

Allard is the first Marauder to reach 100 points since Michelle (Sheehan) Henry accomplished that goal in 2006. Henry is currently in her second year as the varsity assistant coach with Graham. 

The record-breaker came midway through the second half with Belmont leading 1-0. Playing on her off side near the right sideline, Allard cut with the ball 20 meters from goal and hit a pinpoint shot into the left side of the net. 

Allard – who will be playing defense for Division 1 University of North Caroline Wilmington next fall – finished the scoring burying a penalty kick after she was pushed from behind inside the penalty area with about 10 minutes remaining in the game. 

While Tuesday’s game was the final home game of the season, Belmont’s 13-1-0 record will likely see it playing a pair of home playoff games in the Division 2 North Sectional tournament. And likely more points into Allard’s high school point tally. 

Girls’ Soccer: Merrily They Roll Along; Boys’ Find Its Scoring Touch

Photo: Courtney Gray scoring for Belmont.

For Belmont High Girls’ Soccer, the past week saw the undefeated/untied Marauders secure a playoff spot with half the season still to come while the Boys’ regained its scoring punch after a mid-season stumble

Girls’ Achieve Playoffs, Await Home and Home vs. One Loss Woburn

The Broadway composer and lyrist Stephen Sondheim titled one of his lesser-known musicals “Merrily We Roll Along.” While that book is about three friends over the years, one could steal the title and use it to describe the Belmont High Girls soccer team this season as they happily run the table. After a 4-0 victory at Wakefield on a rainy Columbus Day, the team had secured a perfect record at 10-0-0 as well as a playoff place in the Division 2 North Sectionals. 

Just before he left for an annual trip to an employers conference in Chicago, longtime Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham said he would not discount making the tournament this early in the season.

“It was one of our goals, so it’s important to recognize it. Sometimes you don’t make it so you should celebrate it,” he said after defeating an undermanned Watertown team, 7-0, before capping the week at Wakefield where junior forward Ella Gagnon tucked in a brace, each goal assisted by senior forward and co-captain Carey Allard who scored three times against Watertown.

After three consecutive shutouts where Belmont dominated play, the Marauders will have its hands full at the end of the week as they meet one-loss Woburn High School in a rare home and home matchup. The opener will be played on Thursday, Oct. 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Woburn and the return fixture is on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 14, at 5 p.m. at Harris Field. 

After Stumble, Boys Re-establish Scoring Touch 

After scoring one of the program’s most significant victories in recent years by defeating Winchester 2-0 back in September, the Boys’ Soccer team suddenly couldn’t find its way to the back of its opponent’s net. 

A 2-1 shock home loss to then-winless Reading matched with a 1-0 heartbreaker to top-ranked Arlington coupled with an uninspiring 1-1 tie against Melrose left the Marauders dog paddling with a 4-3-2 record.

But “with a few adjustments to our lineup” by Belmont Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane, the Marauders have reestablished its attacking. 

Senior captain Jake Carson, who is now playing as a true center forward, scored the lone goal in the final minutes to give the Marauders a much needed 1-0 victory over hosts Watertown on Friday, Oct. 6. Then braces by Carson and junior Seamus Dullaghan along with a solo goal from junior Jorge Mejia saw Belmont break out for a comfortable 5-0 victory over Wakefield to up its record to 6-3-2, putting it on the verge of a return to the postseason. 

“We are playing some of our stronger players for long stretches, and that has worked well. The last couple of games we have started to gain momentum, and we are about to play the teams we have already played before (in the Liberty division of the Middlesex League),” said Bisceglia-Kane.

After a home game against Woburn at the end of the week, Belmont will be on the road for the next three games against two teams above them in the league standings, leaders Arlington and Winchester. 

“We feel confident that we’ll be in every game that they play in. We have to score earlier, so the other team doesn’t feel that they are competitive despite us outplaying them,” he said. 

Sports: Allard’s Wonder Goal Gives Unbeaten Belmont 3-2 Win Over Winchester

Photo: Carey Allard celebrates the winning goal vs. Winchester.

When Winchester forward Anna Carazza’s centering “pass” dropped into Belmont’s net with 12 minutes remaining in Saturday’s exciting battle of the unbeaten between Belmont and Winchester, it appeared the game’s momentum was about to turn in the Sachems’ favor.

But as Winchester – ranked 7th in the Boston Globe’s top 20 poll – celebrated, 60 meters down the pitch Belmont’s Carey Allard was preparing to enter the match, a substitution no one had expected.

Six days earlier, the four-year varsity starter suffered a high ankle sprain against Lexington ending up wearing a medical boot and on crutches. By game day, Allard was able to warm up with her teammates but told Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham she wasn’t fit enough to start against Winchester.

For 70 minutes, Allard sat on the Marauders bench, watching with more than 800 fans on “Soccer Night in Belmont.’

Then with 10 minutes to go, Graham approached his All-Star captain with a question.

“[Graham] asked if I thought I could play the final 10 minutes and I said, ‘Why not?'” Allard told the Belmontonian after the game. 

A Division 1 commit heading to the University of North Carolina – Wilmington next fall, Allard has been the Sachem’s nemesis over the past four years including scoring a long-range stunner in last year’s first-round playoff game that ended in Belmont’s upset victory. With that in mind, Winchester junior Hannah Markham was assigned the task of playing Allard with a tight man-to-man coverage. After eight minutes, Allard had a few brief touches and nothing more.

Winchester’s focus on Allard opened the field to allow other Marauders the opportunity to attack the goal. Sophomore Marina Karalis came close to scoring twice 20 seconds apart; once striking the ball over the crossbar and barely missing the right post. 

As the field clock fast approached the final two minutes and Winchester moving up the pitch, freshman forward Grace Kane – who took Allard’s place in the starting lineup – stepped in front of a pass and fed the senior co-captain who was nearly 25 meters to the left of Winchester’s goal.

One touch, a half turn, and Allard looked at Winchester’s net.

“I honestly said, ‘This is my chance,'” said Allard

The ball flew heading for the right top corner then curving inside the far post by Winchester’s senior goalkeeper Silvia Dowdell. 3-2 Belmont.

Allard’s wonder goal in the final two minutes put the exclamation mark on what was an early season classic pitting two undefeated teams playing at their best before a packed Harris Field in the opener of Belmont’s annual soccer celebration.

“Allard is a threat anytime she’s in that range,” said Graham, who saw his team improve to 5-0-0, tied with undefeated Woburn at the top of the Middlesex League Liberty division. The only blemish to the game’s result; despite defeating a top ten team and recording a perfect record, the Marauders have yet to break the Globe’s Top 20 poll. 

It was a game that saw each team take control of the field, lead changes and physical plays with girls ending up on the turf throughout the contest. 

Winchester had the better of Belmont early on, with their collective speed and quickness putting a damp on Belmont’s plans to set a more controlled pace to the game.

Winchester opened the scoring on a deep cross from finding a streaking senior captain Shelley Blumsack beating Belmont’s defender to put the ball into the upper net.

Winchester’s lead could have been two or three times what they had but for decisive defensive work by the backline anchored by senior captain Natalie Marcus-Bauer who made two sliding tackles deep in the penalty box on solo runs by Winchester wingers.

“I was just focused on containing [any challenge] and forcing them out to the side,” she said, knowing she could rely on the other defenders including juniors Megan Tan and Emily Dexter, while 

Belmont tied the score 18 minutes into the first half on two consecutive free kicks, the second at the edge of the box after a Winchester push. Senior midfielder and co-captain Emma Sass curling shot hit the right post then came out for an onrushing senior forward Morgan Krauss – who was named the player of the match by members of the Soccer Night in Belmont – who headed the rebound inside the left frame.

After going into the half tied at one, Krauss doubled Belmont’s advantage midway through the second half, taking in a Kane pass and rifling it by Dowdell.

But ever so slightly, Winchester found a half step advantage and began pressing resulting in Carazza’s goal. 

For Graham, the victory was a culmunation of switching this alignment – starting with a 3-4-3 and ending with a 4-4-2 and the knowledge that he could put in most of the players on the bench without a drop off in performance. 

“I used 17 players including two freshmen and a number of seniors who don’t start and they all played well. That’s a luxury to have,’ said Graham.

Girls’, Boys’ Soccer Meet Top 10 Winchester Saturday After Scrappy Week

Photo: Belmont against Leington.

It will an early test of just how good both Belmont High School soccer teams are in 2017 as the Girls’ and Boys’ soccer programs take on league-leading and top 10 Winchester sides on Saturday, Sept. 23  during the annual Soccer Night in Belmont festivities.

Both teams are coming off a week of scrappy games which concluded with the girls’ facing the challenge of possibly playing without its acknowledged leader and star player as it takes its undefeated record up against fellow unbeaten Winchester.

In the match at Lexington on Monday, Sept. 18, which Belmont won 3-1 to up its record to 4-0-0, senior captain Carey Allard suffered an ankle injury late in the game against the Minutemen. In a match which Lexington had tightly marked the Division 1 commit (UNC-Wilmington), the Marauder star came up lame after a collision. As of Friday, Allard’s availability to participate in the contest will be a game-time decision. 

At Lexington, Belmont led 2-0 at the half from a 20-yard blast from Ella Gagnon into the top right corner with an assist from Allard followed 15 minutes later by a left-footed volley into the side netting by Courtney Gray. Belmont added a late goal on an Emma Sass corner kick to the head of Marina Karalis. Natalie Marcus-Bauer anchored the defense and ran down several Lexington breakaways. 

For the Boys’ the previous games showed the teams continued defensive promise if not its scoring punch. In a shocker, the boys’ lost to host and then-winless Woburn, 1-0 on Friday, Sept. 2, before battling back against Lexington to take a 1-1 tie at home. After falling behind after 11 minutes, Belmont took control of the game both on offense and defense. With five minutes remaining in half, a long throw-in from Mich Pomer found Marauder’s Seamus Dullagham who fired a low shot into the net. 

The tie puts Belmont’s record at 3-1-1 as they prepare to take on 4-1-1 Sachems on Saturday.

Sports: Trio Of Belmont Teams Shut Out Red Devils In Season Openers

Photo: Carey Allard on the ball

Three Belmont High School fall sports team opened their 2017 seasons on Thursday, Sept. 7 with impressive shut out victories on the opening day of their campaigns.

Girls Soccer: Belmont 6, Burlington 0

This is a warning for teams in the Middlesex League; don’t get Belmont’s Carey Allard angry. She’ll just score more goals.

That’s what an undermanned Burlington High squad discovered when they attempted to cover and mark the All-Star left forward a bit too aggressively. After being her ankles clipped and body pushed off the ball during the early moments of the first half, the Marauders’ Division 1-commit (she’s heading to UNC-Wilmington next fall) was determined to answer the physical play by punishing the defense.

With Belmont already dominating the game leading 2-0, Allard put her distinctive stamp on the game by scoring a true hat-trick within a 16-minute span, to put the match out of reach by the half.

“[Allard’s] going to score,” said Paul Graham, who has coached the team for the past quarter century.

“When she shoots from the outside like that, there’s no goalie is going to stop her.”

Allard wasn’t finished, scoring her best for last, driving by three defenders and sidestepping a fourth before placing a sharp shot deftly just inside the right post to give Belmont a 6-0 opening day win over Burlington.

“I thought all 23 players played well,” said Graham, using everyone on the bench in the home opener. 

He pointed to midfield co-captain Emma Sass’ mastery of the middle of the pitch leading to Belmont controlling the game. “She’s just so strong, controls the ball well and sees the field so well,” said Graham.

Belmont wasted no time showing its dominance scoring at the one minute mark with senior co-captain Courtney Gray spinning and dropping a shot over the head of the Burlington goaltender and into the net. Ten minutes later, Morgan Krauss doubled the lead with a shot from the right side of the goal. 

Graham also praised his back three of juniors Meagan Tan and Emily Dexter and senior Natalie Marcus-Bauer. “They played superior. They dominated when they got the ball and passed it around,” said Graham.

The true test of Belmont’s potential will come when it goes toe-to-toe with the power teams in the Middlesex League. One of those is Wilmington which the Marauders will battle away from home on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m.

Field Hockey: Belmont 9, Burlington 0

Six Marauders scored as Coach Jessica Smith’s field hockey squad opened the flood gates against host Burlington as Belmont seeks its third consecutive Middlesex Liberty Division title.  

“It was a great team effort,” said Smtih, who used each of the 21 players on her roster.

Leading Belmont offensively was sophomore Katie Guden and junior Morgan Chase who ended the night with three points with two goals and an assist, joining Hana Powers who also pocketed a pair. Co-capt. Senior Bridget Gardiner also had three points with a goal and two assists while her fellow captain senior Alexa Sabatino had a goal and an assist. Jordan Lettiere completed the scoring with her first strike of the campaign.

“It was really fun to watch this young team in action. The passing and shots on net were fabulous,” said Smith.

“[Katie] Guden was fantastic. She is a force when moving the ball and her passes were outstanding. Gardiner also played a fabulous game.  The midfield, in general, was very involved both defensively and offensively. They including Lillie Devitt were key in all transitions,” said Smith.

While Belmont lost two Division 1 College players – midfield/sweeper AnnMarie Habelow (Louisville) and defender Julia Chase (UNH) – and a three-year starter on defense (Molly Goldberg) to graduation, it appears Smith has found a solid back row with Meri Hana and Johanna Crowley as fullbacks and sweeper Emma Donahue (niece of Watertown legionary head coach Eileen Donahue) playing in front of veteran goaltender Chrissy MacLeod. 

Boys Soccer: Belmont 3, Burlington 0

Marauder senior goalkeeper Nate Espelin stopped a penalty and earned the 3-0 shutout as Belmont High’s Boys Soccer started the 2017 season beating host Burlington on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 7.

Leading 2-0 ten minutes into the second half, a tripping foul by Belmont’s Kostas Tingos within the penalty area gave the Red Devils the opportunity to half the lead with plenty of time still to play. But like a good poker player, Espelin saw a big time “tell” from the Burlington player as he approached the ball sitting at the 11-meter mark.

“He pointed to the left side of the net like he was going to kick it there. But I guessed that’s where he wanted me to go, so I moved to the right,” said Espelin, who preserved the two goal margin.

During the match, it held the majority of possession and momentum,  Belmont ­– ranked 15th in the Boston Globe pre-season Top 20 poll – jumped into the lead when junior midfielder Seamus Dullaghan tucked in a rebound of a Jake Carson shot with eight minutes left in the first half.

The Marauders doubled its advantage when Andrew Karalis converted a penalty kick four minutes into the second half.

Belmont final score belongs to the highlight reel as Carson scored from beyond 30 meters on a direct free kick midway through the final frame.

Belmont will play its home opener on Friday, Sept. 8 at 3:45 p.m. against Wilmington.

Sports: Upset Soccer Saturday! Girls’ Down Winchester in PKs, Boys’ Put Away C-C in OT

Photo: Marina Karalis after winning the playoff game vs. Winchester.

A pair of youngsters scored the biggest goals of the season for both of Belmont High School soccer teams as the boys’ and girls’ in dramatic fashion upset two top five seeds in the first round of the Division 2 North Sectionals on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Freshman Marina Karalis, who spent most of the season on junior varsity, buried a sudden death penalty kick past Winchester junior keeper Silvia Dowdell on the team’s sixth attempt as the Marauders shocked the Sachems, 4-3, in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in regular time and after two 10-minute extra periods.

“I actually was really scared [going to the 11-meter penalty spot] but once I put the ball down, I said ‘I can do this,'” said Karalis who was brought up to the varsity after a series of injuries left three starters on the bench.

Over in Concord, Belmont stunned one-loss Concord-Carlisle Regional, 2-1, as sophomore midfielder Seamus Dullaghan tucked in the winning goal past Colonials’ goalie Will Palmer “at the death” in the first 10-minute overtime.

Third time’s a charm as girls’ knock off Sachems

Belmont came to Winchester having been comprehensively defeated in both league matches with the Middlesex League Liberty champions, losing 5-2 on Belmont’s Seniors Night Oct. 25 and 3-0 on their last visit to Winchester on Sept. 27.

“When we found out we were playing Winchester, we were bummed because it was the only team we did not want to play,” said Georgia Parsons, the team’s senior goalkeeper.

“But as we practiced, we just turned it around and took this negative and turned it into a positive,” she said.

With Belmont in an end-of-the-season slump – having gone 0-3-2 in its final five league games – Belmont Head Coach Paul Graham switched the team’s formation to a more defensive 4-4-2 (four back line defenders and four midfielders). The new defensive alignment – with senior co-captain Rachel Berets, junior Natalie Marcus Bauer and sophomores Emily Dexter and Megan Tan – filled in space on the field which the Sachems exploited in the earlier matches.

Graham and his assistant, Michelle Henry, also focused on speed, placing the Cella sisters – senior co-captain Julia (a state finalist in track) and sophomore Olivia – on the wings to keep the Sachems defense from targeting league scoring champion junior Carey Allard.

In the front of midfielders junior Emma Sass and senior Anna Alibrandi, sophomore Ella Gagnon used her size and speed to clog passing lanes and act as a second outlet for the offense.

The changes proved effective as Belmont shut down Winchester’s scoring stalwarts, senior Yasmine Boukari and junior striker Kate Ryan, for the first 40 minutes, playing what Graham called “the best half we’ve played all season” as the Marauders held the hosts to a scoreless draw at halftime.

Winchester, who came in with 13 wins (13-4-2), was able to keep the ball in Belmont’s end “but like the [New England] Patriots, while we did bend, we did not break in the back,” said Graham.

“It’s tournament, and everyone is so focused,” said Parson.

Belmont’s defense was breached early in the second half on a set piece as Ryan headed in a loose ball off a corner with 35 minutes remaining in the game.

But in just 145 seconds the Marauders had its equalizer from Allard who, despite being drapped by senior midfielder Phoebe Sauer, hit a 20-meter wonder strike that hit the left corner of the net out of Dowdell’s reach at the 33-minute mark.

A few minutes later, Allard nearly gave Belmont the lead when she was sent in alone against Dowdell only to see her chip sail inches over the crossbar.

The remainder of both the half and both overtimes were physical affairs, with the Sachems willing to throw its weight around and to challenge Belmont’s possession as the Marauders could not find an offensive rhythm, only bothering Winchester on the counter attack.

And the Sachems came close several times to winning it all; the closest was Boukari’s hard shot from her solo run down the right side that Parsons got her fingertips to nudge it just wide of the far post.

With his team feeling the effects of an hour and a half of rough and tumble play and the home team pushing forward, Graham started substituting players with one purpose in mind: get to penalty kicks.

“[Winchester] was dominating us in the final 15 minutes and I told [Henry] ‘I’m going to stall for time so I could get into PKs’,” said Graham.

And Belmont’s reputation when the game is determined at the 11-meter spot is much like the German National Team which hasn’t lost a tournament game on penalties.

“We practice them every practice, not just the shotters but our goalies. And I just knew [Parsons] would get one,” said Graham.

“All I knew is that I was ready. We always practice penalty kicks at the end of practice, and I know my abilities, and I knew I was going to be able to stop a shot. I really believed in myself,” said Parsons.

Despite misses by Allard (a save) and Drew Bates (over the crossbar), Julia Cella, Sass and Berets scored to tie the score at three goals after the mandatory five shots.

On Wnchester’s sixth kick, Parsons dove left and parried senior Isabel Bush’s shot just past the post.

It was then up to Karalis who received last second words of encouragement from Allard before striding up and placing a well-placed shot well beyond Dowdell’s reach.

“I looked at the goalie, and I looked left, but I shot it right, so I tried to trick her,” said the ninth-grader.

When asked why he selected the only freshman on the team to take such an important attempt, Graham said “I have confidence in her. Some of the kids asked not to shot, and I respect that. So after the fifth shot, I went over to Marina and said, ‘You’re sixth, ‘ and she did the job.”

As for the game, Graham – who last year won his 300th game as Marauders head coach – expressed the victory in the simplest of phrases.

“Another state victory. I love it,” he said with a smile.

Belmont next plays at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, Election Day, against Boston Latin. The game will be played at Boston English High School on the Jamaica Plain/Roxbury line in Boston.

Boys’ Send Colonials’ Packing

After falling behind 1-0 at half-time, Belmont picked up the pace and began dominating the second half as its defense, led by senior co-captain Edward Stafford, put the clamps on the Colonial forwards.

“In the first half, we were playing to the other team’s strengths like balls in the air,” said senior striker Daron Hamparian.

“At halftime, we realized that we need to play to our strengths which include passes on the ground to succeed,” said the team co-captain who hit the top left post on a free kick from 30 meters just minutes before the team’s opening goal.

The Marauders’ first goal was a thing of beauty as keeper Nate Espelin’s long goal kick was gathered by Belmont’s stylish midfielder Luckson Dambo whose pinpoint through ball found junior Marc Musser who finished with a flourish to tied up the score.

The Marauders relied on Espelin to keep the Marauders in the game as the junior made an acrobatic stop on Colonial defender Will Tappen a minute before the tying score.

With the match appearing to head to a second overtime period, Belmont put the game away on the counter. Dullaghan’s initial shot on goal off a Hamparian cross was blocked by a defender. The bouncing ball was picked up by junior Jake Carson who slotted it towards the net. The shot was deflected by Palmer and hit the post, rebounding out to Dullaghan who tapped it in with less than a minute remaining. 

“We played hard for a full 88 minutes, and it worked out in the end. It was a true team effort that we feel will propel us to the next game,” said Hamparian.

Belmont next plays Masco Regional in Topsfield on Tuesday, Election Day, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. 

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Soccer Night in Belmont Kicks Off Under the Lights Saturday, Oct. 1

Photo: Belmont High Girls’ Soccer getting the word out on the first “Soccer Night in Belmont.” 

The Belmont High School Boys’ and Girls’ Varsity Soccer teams will headline the inaugural “Soccer Night in Belmont” on Saturday, October 1, joined at the event by hundreds of younger players from Belmont 2nd Soccer and the Belmont Soccer Association, coaches, and other members of the Belmont soccer community.

Soccer Night in Belmont will feature a doubleheader under the lights at Harris Field with the Boys’  taking on Wayland High at 5:30 p.m. followed the BHS Girls’ vs. Middlesex League rival Reading High at 7:30 p.m. 

Preceding each game, 2nd Soccer and BSA players will parading out with players during the pre-game ceremonies, acting as ball boys and girls, and competing in mini-games on Harris Field during halftime of the games.

“This event will not only showcase our successful varsity teams, but will recognize the role of Belmont 2nd Soccer and BSA in nurturing the talent that makes up these teams year in and year out,” said event organizer John Carson.

“We hope to have a big crowd, and it will be a really fun night that builds bonds between our ‘little kid’ players and ‘big kid’ high school players, virtually all of whom came up through the Belmont youth program.”

Admission to Soccer Night in Belmont is free, and the first 100 elementary grade kids wearing their team uniform will receive a commemorative soccer ball donated by Belmont Savings Bank.  Concessions, organized by Parents of Music Students (POMS) including pizza, hot dogs, snacks and drinks will be available so families can come for the games and feed the kids at the same time.  

Soccer Night in Belmont is sponsored by Belmont 2nd Soccer, Belmont Soccer Association, Belmont Savings Bank, The Rising, Phoenix Landing, with special thanks to Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS), and Belmont High School Athletic Director Jim Davis.

Further information for soccer players who wish to participate on the field will be distributed through their 2nd Soccer and BSA coaches in the coming weeks.  Those wishing to volunteer at the event should contact johncarson@yahoo.com