Second Century Of Gridiron Rivalry Begins As Watertown Hosts Belmont In 101st Thanksgiving Day Contest

Photo: Belmont High’s QB Jayden Arno (number 3) will lead the Marauders against the Watertown High Raiders on Thanksgiving

The second century of battling for Turkey Day football dominance begins Thursday at Victory Field when the Watertown High School host the Belmont High Marauders in the 101st edition of the Thanksgiving Day game.

Kickoff for this rivalry is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Tickets are $10 at the gate.

The Marauders will be looking for payback for the Fenway game as the Raiders scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to come away with a 21-7 victory, its third consecutive victory.

Belmont (5-4) comes into game as Middlesex League Liberty Division champions – the first league title since 1965 – as a resurgent Marauders led by third year head coach Brian McCray nearly ran the league table to go 4-1, defeating teams such as Woburn and Reading for the first time in more than a decade. Belmont earned a place in the Division 2 playoffs in which a severely depleted Marauders squad – missing its all-star running back, several linebackers and the team’s MVP and kicker due to injuries – was defeated by host Wellesley, 42-0.

Watertown’s season (3-7) has been a lackluster one, losing each of its five Middlesex League Freedom Division matches to finish last in the division. The Raiders appear to found some form coming into the contest on a two-game win streak defeating Arlington Catholic and Greater Lowell in a pair of non-playoff games.

First contested in 1921, Watertown leads the series 50-45-5. The game was cancelled twice, in 1940 due to a snowstorm, and in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘It Could Be Yesterday; It Might Be Tomorrow’: BHS Performing Arts Company’s ‘Inherit The Wind’ [VIDEO]

Photo: Henry Barnes (sitting) and Gavin Tieken-Zidel (standing right) were the leads in Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s production of “Inherit The Wind.”

Belmont High School Performing Arts Company Presented “INHERIT THE WIND” by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee at Belmont Middle and High School Black Box.

​The Performing Arts Company Fall Play was the classic drama, “Inherit the Wind,” based on the real-life story of the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, when a high school science teacher was arrested for teaching evolution and violating a new state law. The play tells the tale of a small town gripped in the ensuing debate about science, religion, free speech, the law, and the two legal heavyweights coming to town to battle for their causes.

The show features a cast of 18 actors and the tech crew includes more than 40 students working on lighting, scenery, costumes, props, sound, and stage management.

NOTES ABOUT THE SHOW FROM PRODUCTION DRAMATURG LUCAS HOLMAN:

A dramaturg serves as a literary expert for a theatrical production, providing historical research, analysis and interpretation of a play to the cast, crew, and audience. For Inherit the Wind, Junior Lucas Holman conducted research about the history of the play, which was presented to the cast/crew throughout the rehearsal process, and participated with the cast in conversations about the present-day relevance of the show. He also wrote an essay for the program, part of which is excerpted here:

“Inherit the Wind” is a timeless work of historical fiction based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” of 1925, in which a high school biology teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution, which had been banned months prior. The play was written in the 1950s as a response to the McCarthy trials and a critique to the kangaroo courts of the Red Scare.

“Inherit the Wind” takes the historical figures and blends them into a dramatization of the courtroom. On one hand, “Inherit the Wind” is a time capsule, not just of the Scopes Trial from which it borrows its story, but from the McCarthy era which it aimed to critique. Similar to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” “Inherit the Wind” utilizes the American past to touch on its American present by interweaving the themes and conflicts of the past with what they needed to hear then. However, the play is both timely as well as timeless, as many of the critiques it directs towards the unchecked dogma of Bryanism still ring true today in the climate of a divided America.

NOTES ABOUT THE SHOW FROM PRODUCER/DIRECTOR EZRA FLAM

“Inherit the Wind” is a Modern American drama, which is a style of play we have not done in the PAC in recent years. Students have had the opportunity to explore character development, naturalistic acting and play dramatic scenes, which has been a fun challenge for rehearsal and a great learning experience for them.

In March of 1925, the Tennessee legislature prohibited the teaching of evolution. The strike against Darwin sparked outrage across scientific America. Local authority figures in Dayton, Tennessee, quickly agreed: they wanted to use the new law to bring money and fame to their unknown town. They convinced John T. Scopes, on whom the character of Bert Cates is based, to stand trial. The ACLU put together a defense team led by Clarence Darrow, the most famed defense attorney in the nation in his time. Darrow is fictionalized in the play as Henry Drummond, facing off against prosecuting attorney Matthew Harrison Brady, a disgruntled thrice-failed presidential candidate who sees the defense of God as his last mission. Matthew Harrison Brady is modeled after William Jennings Bryan, the 19th and early 20th-century presidential candidate and novel politician, whose influence derived from his populist ideals. 

In addition, the tech crew has been hard at work creating the world of the show. Under the guidance of Scenic Designer Anna Moss, Costume Designer Lila West and Technical Director Ian O’Malley, students are creating the world of the play. Although the show takes place in the 1920s, we felt it was important to show that the story is not a historical artifact. As the author’s say in their preface to the script, “it could be yesterday; it might be tomorrow.” We have represented that on stage with a “Wall of Americana” spanning the last 100 years of culture and invention, a decade spanning soundtrack of American music and costumes that evoke the 1920s, but don’t lock the characters into that time period.

What A Week! Belmont Boys Stamps Its Brand Of Soccer On Div. 1 Playoff With Pair Of Upsets; Winchester Next In The Elite 8 On Sunday [VIDEO]

Photo: Alex Servitopoulos celebrating his winning goal vs.Acton-Boxborough, 3-2

A year ago this week, Belmont High Boys’ Soccer players littered the turf at Franklin High School, having come ever so close to beating a top-ten seed, ruing the many missed chances in a “what if …” moment.

What a difference a year makes.

In a pair of nailbiting playoff matches, the 30th-ranked Marauders defeated third-ranked Acton-Boxborough Regional (3-2) and 14th-seed Natick High (2-1) in the MIAA Division 1 tourney, leaving the winning goals until late in both games, with the second against Natick coming down to the final kick of the game.

“We win pretty, we win ugly, We win with fire, we wind with passion,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Niman Kenkre said after a second emotional game against Natick. “They just refuse to lose. I’ve never been around a group of guys like this.”

“Their spirit, their mental strength to do what we done in both games. It bears out the work that we’ve put in, all the passion, all the love that these guys have for each other. It’s just rewarding for their commitment to the way we play and to each other.”

Belmont (13-5-4) will take its innovative tactics to Middlesex League Liberty rival 11th-seed Winchester (15-1-2) for an Elite Eight contest on Sunday, Nov. 12 at 11:30 a.m. In their previous matches, the Red and Black defeated the Marauders by identical 2-0 scorelines.

The last time Belmont had gone this deep into the MIAA tournament was in the Div. 2 North championship semifinals when Winchester beat the Marauders, 1-0, on its way to the state title.

The games stood out in their contrasting styles. Against Acton-Boxborough, Belmont excelled in the installment by Kenkre of a patient approach to attacking the opponent, using a combination of short and medium passes or dribbling with the ultimate aim of reaching the opponent’s territory in a superior position.

While most high school teams play long passes up the field with the hope of winning the ball, “we’ve really mastered playing from the back, breaking the field into thirds and building our offense in each third,” said team co-captain Sachil Kenkre after the A-B match which he collected three points on a goal and two assists. “It’s really beautiful soccer, and tonight it paid off.”

“At the start of the season, we were making mistakes left and right, and it was going to be hard to play high school [soccer] like that. But as you saw, it worked, and we beat the three seed,” he said.

“Tonight really validated the style of soccer that we’ve been striving to do all season,” said coach Kenkre.

Belmont 3, Acton-Boxorough 2

At Acton-Boxorough, Belmont’s pressure defense – attacking the Colonials’ backline and midfield with multiple players – allowed the Marauders to be on the front foot for most of the first 40 minutes. A-B had some of its own original set plays as they took the lead with just over three minutes to play, scoring on a corner from a player who came into the box on a deep run.

But the Colonials advantage lasted a mere 24 seconds as Kenkre scored a wonder goal of the season, a long-range blast that beat the outstretched hand of AB goalie Kai Chong into the upper net. Less than a minute later, a Kenkre free kick to the right of the goal found junior Owen Filler sneaking in from the backside, who headed the ball back behind Chong for a 2-1 lead entering halftime.

After the break, Belmont came out on the attack and missed scoring three times, only to see A-B senior Miller Lille lose his marker on a corner and run free for an open header to level the match at 2-2. For the remainder of the half, Belmont’s stylish and stout defending never allowed the home team to set up their long-ball attack.

The Marauders’ pressure on AB’s back line paid off big when they were rewarded a corner with barely five minutes remaining in the game. Kenkre’s corner found senior Alex Servitopoulos, who raised his six-foot frame high above the scrum and headed the ball into the left corner for the game-winner.

“It’s all a flash at this point,” said Servitopoulos. “I saw the ball go in, and everything stopped in my life. I swear I’m speechless.”

Belmont 2, Natick 1 (4-2 in PKs)

In contrast to the A-B match, Thursday’s game on Natick’s fridged field was a grind-it-out affair where tactics were replaced with a close-quarters physical contest. The Red Hawks felt more at home creating chances with long balls crossing the box with attackers missing several good chances with Belmont’s double zero Thomas Borkowski making a pair of outstanding saves in the final minutes of the half.

Natick was rewarded with the lead five minutes after the restart. A Borkowski punch save off a corner went to the feet of Natick’s big central defender Matteo Uyar, who launched a low screamer by Borkowski.

“You know, so many other teams would have packed it in [going down] 1-0. This team would not,” said coach Kendre.

After taking control of the match, Belmont would once again wait until five minutes to the end to score, relying on a first-year coming off the bench. Inserted a few minutes earlier, Lawrence Tu was at the right place at the right time when he corralled a loose ball outside the box to the right of the goal.

“Coach moved me off to attacking midfield, and I got in the box,” said Tu. “Sachil took a corner and it bounced straight to me. I just took a touch and it went in.”

“The whole season, I’ve just been filling in whenever I can. I just wanted to get the job done and I did so I am really happy,” said Tu.

The two 10-minute overtime periods were uneventful – except for two Natick starters who were carried off the pitch after collisions – and the game would be decided via the dreaded penalty kicks. After four converted kicks from 11 meters, Borkowski drilled a shot off the crossbar. But the senior stood tall, stopping the subsequent penalty stretching to his left, and sent the Belmont supporters crazy with a second consecutive save, this one at this feet.

“I knew my team was going to score. Just needed to keep one out and we were good,” said Borkowski.

Up 3-2, senior Samuel Kutsman came to the spot as nonchalance as if he knew the game was about to end. Kutsman’s run-up sent the Natick goalie to the left as he placed the ball into the right corner. All that was left to do was celebrate as Kutsman slid on his knees to the sideline, where his teammates met him as the Belmont supporters took to the field.

“I was confident in my abilities [scoring from the spot],” said Kutsman. “We’ve been practicing pens for five days. I just knew it from the start.”

Coach Kenkre said he was eager to meet that challenge with a one-loss Winchester facing them on Sunday.

“We’re ready. They’ve beaten us twice, but it’s always tough to beat a good team three times. We know how to play us, and we know how to play them. It’s going to be a great match. A Middlesex League team is going to the final four, and I think it will start with the letter B.”

Heartbreak Season: Belmont Volleyball’s Tournament Ends Early As Lincoln-Sudbury Upsets Marauders In Thriller

Photo: Belmont senior Isabella Radojevic (number 1) led the way for the Marauders vs LB

The playoffs are “heartbreak season in the sporting world … when pain is felt in its most acute form,” David Coggins wrote this month in his “The Contender” website on Substack.

Heartbreak is the only word to describe what occurred in the Wenner Field House Friday evening, Nov. 3. Heartbreak for the players and fans of the Belmont High Girls’ Volleyball, whose season included a historic first Middlesex League Liberty title and a formidable record of 17 wins from 19 matches.

But all the hard work and records are now at the wayside as the 9th-seeded Marauders would take the match vs. Lincoln-Sudbury to five sets but end up losing to the Warriors, 16-14, in the fifth (20-25, 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 14-16). And the pain was made only more inflicted after a controversial call at the net at 14 in the fifth set, allowing L-S’s senior Emma Agne to serve an uncontested ace to end what was one of the most thrilling matches either team played this year.

While the Warriors were jumping, ecstatic that they would be facing eight-seed Bishop Feehan, the Belmont team (17-3) was stunned into silence as the players slowly walked back to where their backpacks were located. Only when they stopped to pack up their gear for the final time did the emotions – mostly in tears, some in righteous indignation for the penultimate decision – come out in all its excruciating simplicity.

Teammates held their friends – so they didn’t have to cry alone – coaches, dealing with their disappointment, offered a hand, a thoughtful few words, and parents waiting across the field house with open arms.

Belmont Head Coach Jen Couture was expecting to be tested Friday as it was the first round of the playoffs, and the Marauders were facing one of last year’s Division 1 state finalists, losing to Newton North in the championship match.

“I have nothing but good things to say about Lincoln Sudbury,” she said after the game. “When you enter a tournament game, every team will be really good. They were incredible blockers, probably the best we’ve seen all year,” said Colture of the team coached by Greg Falcone.

“It was still a good game for us. Just not every little thing came out in the way we wanted to,” she said.

L-S’s two-player blocking scheme was immediately effective at the start, especially on Belmont’s senior standout Isabella Radojevic (17 kills, three aces, 15 received serves, four digs), as L-S built a quick 1-5 lead. Every time Belmont would tie or come within a point in the first set, the Warriors would counter with a run of their own, which was the pattern of play all match long.

Belmont’s first lead, 14-13, via a combined block from Sophia Qin and Eva Grant, was short-lived as L-S took it up to 17-19 with the first look of the Warriors’ exciting junior Gabby Pierre (14 kills), who when on the floor with Radojevic produced sparks on the front line.

While Belmont scrapped back to 19-21, the Warriors would take the set on a 4-1 run.

The second set was a nail-biter as Belmont again fell behind 5-10 before sophomore Wuyee Ke concluded a 5-0 run with an ace to pair up the second set at 10. The teams would be tied at 22 when first-year Yekaterina Polina stoned a Warrior kill attempt by herself before Ke made a one-arm dig from the floor, which Radojevic sent cross-court for the winner that sealed the set two serves later at 25-23.

The third set was a carbon copy of the previous as no team held a lead of more than three points. The presence of senior Sonya Ivkovic (11 kills, one solo, one combined block) at the net was the difference maker, whose hitting and blocking allowed Belmont to surge ahead 23-18. But The Warriors would make it tight at 24-22 on a down-the-line smash from junior Joyce Li. But Belmont hung on for the 25-22 win and two sets to one lead.

The fourth set saw Belmont race out in front 8-4, only for L-S to make a 5-1 service run. In a set that saw several long rallies, Belmont would pull ahead 17-13 through sophomore Ella Mizuta, only for Li to give a 17-18 lead with two critical points via combination blocks from Pierre and senior Abby Venis. It did appear a two-point push that gave Belmont a 21-19 was harbingers to come, but Pierre – who was outjumping very one by more than 6 inches if not a foot – who took the set by the throat to tie the sets at two.

It came down to a fifth set sprint to 15, in which L-S took a quick 2-5 lead, but Ivkovic was a presence in the middle and helped push Belmont into the lead at 7-6. While the Warriors would come back to move ahead 8-10, Belmont’s 13 in Ivkovic didn’t show any nervousness as she made a pair of kills, including one off a block that tied the score at 12-12. With Radojevic and Pierre on the court, it came down to which of the six players on each team would make a play. With L-S serving for the match at 13-14, Radojevic pulled out a strong shot that L-S miscued to tie at 14.

Now, the controversy. By winning the point at 14-14, either team would be serving to win the match. Agne smashed a great assist that Hashioka dug off the floor. The save barely cleared the net directly in the path of Venis, who won the point with a kill. Yet it was apparent that the net moved as Venis hit the ball. Did Venis’s hand hit the net, which would have given the point to Belmont, or did the net move by the ball? For a second or two, both teams’ attention was directed to the net judge, who deemed the ball caused the net’s movement, to the dismay of the Marauders in the field house.

Watch the play (at 1:20) here.

After the match, Colture said Lincoln-Sudbury held a surprising advantage during the match, being an overwhelming underdog.

“There is that pressure as the higher seed,” said Colture. “There’s an expectation you have, and the other team has no expectations. They had nothing to lose, and we played like we did have something to lose, and I think that is what happened.”

Thoughts now turn to the future as Belmont loses several key players to graduation.

“We still have a young team, and they’re getting that experience, and there’s so many sophomores out there. There are a lot of young players who like to play at this level. It’s their first time playing in a state tournament game, and there was a little bit of nerves there many of them will be returning next year.

Yet right now, the heartbreak is knowing that the companionship of teammates made on the court during games, in the locker room, and on long bus rides during evening rush hours has come to an end.

“What’s harder than losing is that your time together is done sooner than you thought,” she said.

“Personally, it’s not the pride of needing to get further in the tournament that hurts. Winning earns you more time together. What’s harder than losing is that your time together is done sooner than you thought,” Colture said. “And I think that’s the hardest part for everybody, especially the seniors.”

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

Photo:

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!

Belmont High Football Waits Until Late To Earn the ‘W’ Over Unbeaten Winchester, 15-9

Photo: Belmont senior running back Adrien Gurung taking flight.

Winchester High School Football’s Friday night game had all the hallmarks for a big night for the Red and Black. Undefeated at 3-0, on their new turf field at Knowlton Stadium with its outstanding kicker being honored as the best kicker in the country, it was all there for Winchester to show its dominance over a Belmont High squad coming off a disappointing home loss against Westford Academy.

But as Lee Corso says on ESPN’s College Game Day: “Not so fast, my friend!” Behind a pair of time consuming fourth-quarter touchdown drives – the second coming with just about two minutes remaining to play – and a stellar performance by its defensive front over the entire game, Belmont ended the night putting the Red and Black in the loss column defeating Winchester, 15-9, in both team’s Middlesex League, Liberty Division opener.

Belmont (2-2) will host Lexington High (1-3) at Harris Field under the Friday Night Lights on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m.

Friday night’s game was a pondering affair, slowed by one running play after another, penalties, and solid work from both teams defenses. Belmont did show some punch via senior back Adrien Gurung who pounded his way just short of the century mark and senior QB Jayden Arno who was able to both keep the ball on the ground and wing it when needed to his receiving corp. But it was Belmont gritty run defense that blunted Winchester’s attack.

The first-half’s highlight was Winchester’s Kieran Corr, the Under Armour All-American as the number one ranked high school kicker in the US. And the Harvard commit was as impressive as advertised, splitting the uprights from 44 yards – remember, this is high school – with at least 10 yards to spare to give Winchester a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter that would last into halftime.

After the break, Belmont looked as it would strike first, having stopped Winchester on a 4th and 2 at its 42. Gurung would scamper 31 yards off the left side to Winchester’s 8 yard line, but after three runs resulted in no gain, Belmont missed a 25 yard field goal attempt.

On the very next play, Winchester QB Harry Lowenstein found a streaking George Nelson for an 80 yard Red and Black touchdown. Despite a botched extra point, Winchester was up by two scores, 9-0, with 6:20 remaining in the third.

Now it was the Marauders team time to shine as Belmont would hang onto the ball for nearly eight minutes over 62 yards. Belmont would convert a pair of 4th and 1 on the run-heavy drive culminating in an Arno keeper from a yard out to cut the lead to 9-7 at the 10:30 mark in the fourth.

After converting a first down, Winchester was put on its back heel as the entire defensive line sacked Lowenstein on a 3rd and 11 forcing a punt with 6:45 left in the game. Starting at its 25, Belmont benefited immediately from a face mask call taking the ball to the 40 yard line. Two Arno keepers for nine yards and a critical 21 yard pass completion to Donovan Holway brought the ball to the Winchester 12 with 4 minutes remaining.

Belmont then served up a diet of punishing runs from Gurung ending with the senior running back crossing the goal line standing from a yard out with 2:12 on the clock. Arno’s pass to Austin Lasseter for the two point conversion saw Belmont increase its lead to 15-9.

After a scare on the kick off – Winchester appeared to have crossed midfield with Lasseter making a touchdown-saving tackle only for a block in the back penalty rendering the gain mute – Belmont’s defense held firm forcing a long pass by Lowenstein on 4th down that senior WR/DB Brian Logan intercepted closing the book on an impressive – and confidence boosting – road win.

‘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 Seniors Seek Donated Supplies To Help Women In Need At Rosie’s Place. [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High rising seniors (from left) Eva Gruia, Reese Campbell, and Melis Demirtas are collecting women’s essential goods through Aug. 16 to donate to Rosie’s Place in Boston

For many, summer is a time for getting out into the hot sunshine, sweating a lot before heading indoors for one of a couple of showers in the comfort of an air-conditioned home.

But for poor and homeless women – on the streets or with nowhere cool and safe to go – the season’s intense sun, heat, and humidity create hygienic issues that many do not think of daily. In addition to dehydration and sunburn, the risk of rash and infections increases without running water or a place to clean up. A recent study reported that those without a reliable way of personal hygiene have a higher rate of mental health concerns.

Three rising Belmont High seniors are working to help those homeless and in-need women who lack simple health supplies. From now until Wednesday, Aug. 16, Reese Campbell, Eva Gruia, and Melos Demiras have set up a drop box behind Belmont Center’s Champion Sporting Goods adjacent to the Claflin Street parking lot to collect women’s essential goods that will be donated to Rosie’s Place, the largest women’s shelter in New England.

“This summer, I have been volunteering [at Rosie’s Place], and it is heartbreaking to see how many people need essential goods,” said Campbell. She said the donated supplies will be used to create care packages to distribute to women who need them.

At this time, the shelter is explicitly looking for full-sized and unused items listed below:

ITEMS NEEDED:

  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • floss
  • deodorant
  • soap
  • body wash
  • lip balm
  • face cream
  • hand lotion
  • shampoo and conditioner
  • hand sanitizer
  • wipes

So far, the friends have received 444 donated items, resulting in 20 care packages with a goal of presenting 100 packages to women in need.

Packages with donated supplies heading to Rosie’s Place (credit: Reese Campbell)

“We are asking people to donate at least one item to make a big difference,” said Campbell. “I feel like because these [items are] very rarely accessible to us, we don’t realize the importance of our everyday lives.”

“We are really grateful that Champions has been very supportive of the drive,” said Campbell. “Gerry Dickhaut, the current owner, and Andy Pollock, one of the future owners of the store, were both one of the first people to donate many items to our cause.”

The soon-to-be seniors have been posting progress updates on Instagram @shelteringheartsproject. 

If people want us to pick up items from their house, they can arrange it by emailing shelteringheartsproject@gmail.com

“All three of us are very fortunate to be living in Belmont and have many opportunities around us. And we want to use our free time to help other people that might not be as fortunate as we are because we can give back, and that’s what we should be doing,” said Campbell.

Belmont Pair Leave Their Mark Over Two Miles On The Track

Photo: Belmont High student and Emerging Elite athlete Ellie Shea (Credit: Sage Zipeto, Brooks PRI)

Two young Belmont track runners – one already well-established and the other a newcomer breaking into the spotlight – came home with silverware over the same distance captured at separate national competitions earlier this month.

And this coming weekend, Ellie Shea and Dana Lehr could be competing against each other for the first time at the National Championships for athletes under 20 years old.

Shea continues her impressive track results, winning the two-mile at the annual Brooks PR Invitational (PRI) on June 14. Toeing the line against a deep field of speedy athletes, Shea was at the top of her game having smashed her PR in the mile two weeks earlier with a 4 minute, 37.22 second, the fastest mile ever by a Massachusetts high schooler (although it is not an official record as it was set in a mixed gender race).

Unlike some of her previous distance races where she would run away from the competition, Shea – wearing her trademark cobalt-blue sunglasses – would have all she could handle with a familiar opponent, senior Leah Stephens from Maryland (they battled each other at the Champs National Cross Country Championships in December) who ran shoulder to shoulder with the Emerging Elite athlete as they were running steady laps.

On the final of eight laps, Shea and Stephens were stride for stride as the Florida State-bound runner held off Shea on the final corner. But at the head of the home stretch, Shea increased the pace to pass Stephens breaking the finishing tape in 9:53.36 to be the fastest high school two-miler in the US this year.

See Ellie’s outstanding race here

Unlike the past two years, Shea would skip racing at the annual Nike Outdoor Nationals for high school student in Eugene, Oregon that weekend, leaving the stage to her Emerging Elite teammate Lehr.

At the New Balance National Outdoor Championships in Philadelphia, the Belmont High 10th grader ran in the Rising Star meet, highlighting the nation’s up-and-coming tracksters on June 14. Running in the first of two heats at the historic Franklin Field track, Lehr would benefit from the brave pace setting of junior Reece Landis of Ohio. Almost from the start, the race was a three runner affair with Landis out front followed by Lehr and junior Maggie Powers from Indiana in that order.

Landis would slowly stretch her lead in the second mile where a the bell lap she appeared to have shed her pursuers with nearly a 10 meters lead. But Lehr would erase the 1.2 second deficit using her impressive 800-meter speed – she won the MIAA Division 2 title in May – to marshal a 74 second final lap to take the heat in 10:41.59, winning by five seconds over Landis as the Belmontian lowering her 2-mile PR by a minute and five seconds since February. And when the second heat developed into a tactical contest, Lehr’s time stood up to take the title.

You want to see Lehr’s race? Here it is

After winning her contest, Lehr decided – why not – to jump into the Championship Mile, placing 6th in her heat and 33rd overall in 4:57.88, just a second off her PR.

With her time, Lehr made the qualifying time for the 3000 and 5,000 meters at the USATF U20 Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene taking place on July 6-9. And with Shea also qualifying in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000 meters – just a reminder: since it has been a very long season for both young women, there is no guarantee either will attend – it could be big couple of days for these residents.