Photo: Belmont High’s Matt Pomer celebrating the game-winning goal vs. Peabody.
A goal by sophomore Midfielder Matt Pomer – his fourth of game – with 4:03 left in the match secured a historic victory as Belmont High (10-9) defeated Peabody Veterans Memorial High, 8-7, in the preliminary play-in game of the Division 1 MIAA Boys’ Lacrosse tournament at Harris Field on Tuesday, June 7.
The win was the first home tournament victory in program history as well as the first playoff game ever held at Belmont High. It is Head Coach Josh Streit’s first playoff victory of his career. (Belmont has won postseason games in the past: 7-5 vs host Masconomet in 2008 and 13-4 at Shawsheen in 2010).
“I thought we were moving the ball so well. The team was dodging to move the ball and you saw that in our goals,” said Streit.
Pomers’ goal came after the Mustangs (9-9) tied the match, 7-7, with a little less than seven minutes remaining in a tight match that justified the teams’ power rankings Belmont 32nd and Peabody 33rd.
After giving up the opening goal Peabody’s impressive sophomore long stick John Lucas – who ended up with three goals on as many shots, an assist and five ground-balls – Belmont sprinted to a 4-1 lead in a little over three-and-a half minutes in the first quarter: Pomer’s first (whose solo run was described as watching a ”freight train”) to tie it up followed twice by senior attack co-captain Spencer Scali, the first on a quick give and go from junior mid Quinn Leary and the second scooping up a Peabody drop ball in front of goal. Pomer finished the scoring with a long-range bullet.
Belmont was able to secure the ball and stay on the offense for most of the game by the grunt work “in the X” (the face off circle) from senior Ian Burns who Streit named the ”Man of the Match” for winning 90 percent of the draws he was involved.
”It’s all mentality with face offs,” said Burns. ”Peabody’s player got into my head a little bit but I made sure to stay on my game. And it was a big, big team win and I definitely tried to play my part the best I could.”
But Peabody, who finished with a winning mark in the season, came storming back scoring twice in 12 seconds midway through the second to level the contest at 4-4 before Pomer’s third in the half from a smart Leary assist gave Belmont the one goal margin at the half.
But the third was Peabody’s whose defense forced four consecutive ground ball turnovers as Belmont’s attack and middies were dodging into Mustang players ”and they were quickly doubling up on us and that led to our problems,” said Streit. On the other side of the field, it was that man, the defender Lucas, who twice outran the Marauder midfielders to score two minutes apart to give the visitors a 6-5 lead entering the final quarter.
But Belmont came out on the attack with senior attack Aubrey Talanian scoring the best individual goal of the afternoon, spinning the defender the wrong way to launch an uncontested tally 31 seconds in the quarter. Exactly one minute later, Talanian was mismatched against a smaller defender and powered Belmont in the lead at 7-6.
Despite two big saves by sophomore goalie Nate Moss – top notch against every attempt from distance – to keep the lead at one, Peabody would tie it up at 7s with 6:53 to go with overtime a real possibility. But Pomer, who had been quiet for the half, found himself open to the right of Peabody goalie Derek Patturelli and slotted his fourth goal of the game and secured the victory.
While the Peabody match was one of power ranking equals, Belmont’s round of 32 contest will see the Marauders taking on defending state Division 1 champions and number 1 seed St. John’s Prep in Danvers on Thursday, June 9 at 5 p.m. Streit said he had not been looking beyond Peabody so would have a quick look at tapes of the Eagles. ”We don’t know much about them, but then, they probably know very little about us, which is good,” said Streit.
”We just have to keep an open mind. We know the team is going to be a really good team. But we’re going in what the underdog mentality and I think it’s good to stay together as a team and keep our heads up going into the next game,” said Burns.