Belmont High Football Takes Home Opener With 26-7 Win Over Burlington

Photo: Belmont High sophomore WR Kevin Logan scored the Marauders first TD of the morning vs. Burlington in Belmont’s 26-7 victory.

It wasn’t the promised start to the home opener new Belmont High School football head coach Brian McCray was hoping for.

Originally to be held in an expected packed Harris Field under the Friday Night Lights, the contest against Burlington High was postponed due to a forecast of pending thunderstorms – that never materialized – and rescheduled for cartoon-friendly 10 a.m. Saturday morning. A few fans had drifted into the stands by kick off to see Burlington score on the very first play from scrimmage as dynamic senior running back Adam Eldeeb raced 65 yards down the left sideliine to give the Red Devils a 7-0 lead after 21 seconds.

“We started out very slow and sluggish start, that’s for sure. It seems that we need someone to score on us for us to start playing,” McCray said after addressing his team after the victory.

But Eldeeb early touchdown would be the final time Burlington (0-3) would cross the goal line as a strong defensive showing along with an effective run/pass mix result in 20 second half points as Belmont (2-1, 1-1 in the Middlesex League) secured the 26-7 home opening victory.

“We made a couple of adjustments on the offensive side that really helped us tremendously,” said McCray. “Our conditioning also showed as we had nobody really tired so we were able to make those adjustments and that made all the difference at the end of the game,” he said.

A sophomores accounted for a pair of Belmont’s four touchdowns as running back Adrien Gurung scampered for runs of 62 and 64 yards while big senior wide receiver Kevin Logan was on the end of two strikes from senior quarterback Ryan Broderick, the first when he out jumping a defender with 54 seconds to go in the second quarter to knot the score at 7 at halftime.

Gurung’s second 100+ yard game – the first vs. Cambridge – was made up of a majority of hit the middle of the line behind senior Tony Zhao, sophomore Ryan Holloran and junior Asa Rosenmeier, and gut out a handful of yards. But when the opportunity opened before him, the sophomore used his quickness to pop through a gap and outdistanced the Red Devil DBs in the third (on the first play of the half) and fourth quarters.

It took a while for Broderick to click with Logan but its was hard to miss the 6’5”, 205 lbs tower over anyone trying to defend him. Broderick found the sophomore in the flats for 35 yards before launching a jump ball 15 yards into the end zone that Logan out jumped the back at the end of the second. The Broderick/Logan combo hooked up a second time on a slant pattern from five yards out.

On the defensive side, Belmont was able to bottle up the Red Devil backfield while halting Burlington each of the five times it attempted to move the sticks on fourth down including on their second possession deep in Belmont territory. Sophomore Max Cornelius was particularly effective clogging up the middle and hauling down Burlington runners at the line including on two big plays early in the second quarter while the defense’s second Cornelius, junior linebacker Jake Cornelius, was in the backfield making a big shoe string take down to force a fourth down which Belmont would stop.

”The kids really believe in the defense we are trying to do. They’re very aggressive and we coach them to be in the best position possible to make plays and they seem to do that today,” said McCray.

The Marauders had two big take aways in the morning, a fumble recovery by sophomore Brian Logan on one of Burlington’s fourth down attempts and a Taylor Arno interception where the senior defensive back launched skyward to cut off Ronan Noke’s pass to give Belmont the ball leading to the team’s first TD.

Next up for Belmont is a home encounter with powerhouse Reading (3-0) a top-10 team (in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald Top-20) that scrapped by Danvers last week.

”It’s a great opportunity for us. It will be a test so we have got to study hard. And when you study hard, sometimes you pass,” said McCray. “So we’re hoping that this week we’ll get an ‘A’ on the test.”

Strong 3-0 Start Sees Belmont High Field Hockey Entering League Play Against Tough Rivals [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High’s Layne Doherty vs Melrose.

Led by an experienced set of forwards and a solid midfield, Belmont High Field Hockey has started its 2021 season without “stars” but with a “team” mentality playing on the pitch

And the results, so far, are promising. The normal opening night nerves saw Belmont – ranked 15th in both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald polls – wait until the fourth quarter to take down visiting Wilmington, 3-2, before finding their scoring stride at Stoneham, a 6-1 rout on a high grass pitch, before handling an undefeated Melrose team, 8-1, at Harris Field.

While the Marauders have shown its scoring muscle, the squad doesn’t rely on any one person as the scoring talisman. This year’s version is about everyone pitching in at the highest level.

“The one thing I like about this team is that they all use each other on the field,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach Jessica Smith. “There’s not one true standout. We have a lot of people who can play really hard and really well. They support each other and play together because they’re not looking to carry the ball 50 yards.”

In fact, the squads best defense is its attack. Against Melrose, the visitors did not enter the Belmont zone for the first four minutes of the game as the Marauders front line ball-hawked the Raiders passes and dribbles, forcing turnovers and sending a pair of steals/shots skirting a foot past the opponent’s right post.

So far into the season, Belmont found its scoring touch tallying 17 goals with senior co-captain Ellie McLaughlin, who scored a hat trick against Melrose, and Molly Dacey each with four goals.

The attack, in which an impressive nine players have scored, shows that all the players on the pitch are expected to contribute.

“I think we’re really working on spreading out and getting the ball to new people on the field,” said McLaughlin. The team’s offensive orientation is based on playing together for the past three years for many on the team.

”Our chemistry has brought us together as a team really nicely, especially how we work in our practices,” said McLaughlin in her third year on the varsity squad

What Belmont has demonstrated in its first three games is a quickness to shut down passing lanes and a willingness to challenge opponents for the ball all over the field, traits Smith seeks in her teams.

“I want to play physical because it takes teams out of their [plan] and we can play our game,” said Smith.

Unlike past teams which had college-level defenses (four recent backs have gone to play at Division 1 programs) a relatively young defense and first year goaltenders has been boosted by the addition of senior Mia Mueller who brings three years of varsity experience to the D-line.

“Mia played forward and midfield in the past so she knows how to handle the ball and make passes. And she’s fast so she can close down anyone in the middle. She’ll be so important for us this year,” said Smith.

And the Marauders will need to be at the top of its game as it opens its Middlesex Liberty Division account against strong programs, hosting Lexington on Tuesday, Sept. 21 and traveling to Winchester on Thursday, Sept. 23.

“It’s a big change going from playing the smaller schools to the larger ones. I’m excited because it’s a good test for us to see what we can do and I think the kids are up for it because they know what’s coming,” said Smith.

”We’ve been working hard at practices and been communicating on the field so I think it’ll work against them,” said McLaughlin.

COVID Ends Belmont Boys Hockey’s Chance To Be Solo Champions For A Second Time In A Year

Photo:

For the second time in less than a year, the Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey team saw its chances of playing in a championship game cancelled as the Marauders’ Saturday, Jan. 20, match with Winchester in the first-ever Middlesex League tournament was scraped Friday night due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Middlesex League has declared the teams co-titlists.

In March 2020, the finals of the MIAA Division 1 state tournament between Belmont and Walpole was postponed when the first surge of the coronavirus spread across the country and the teams were declared state co-champions.

The abrupt end of the season, and also the careers of one of the most winningest senior classes, came after Belmont earned a place in the finals with a pair of nail biting tournament games in which the Marauders won both matches in extra time.

After dispatching Wakefield with 3.2 seconds left in a 3-on-3 overtime session Wednesday, the Marauders came back the next day to prevail, 2-1, in a shootout over league powerhouse Arlington.

Belmont came into the game having twice been shut out by the SpyPonders in the previous week, giving up nine goals in the two matches. Despite Arlington’s advantage on offense in setting the tempo and scoring chances, the Marauders had an answer in the guise of sophomore goaltender Ryan Griffin and senior captain Tom Grace who lead the defense.

When the Belmont coaching staff selected the three players to take the sudden death penalty shots, they needed to only look to the Fici brothers – senior captain Ben Fici and sophomore standout Cam – to seal the deal.

After Arlington’s Jack Sadowski scored first in the second round of shots, Ben Fici threw off Arlington goalie Jack Davies with a quick move to his right and roofed a backhand by the sophomore netminder to tie the shootout at one.

It was now Griffins time to shine as he blocked Reid Malatesta’s attempted to go between the pads. With the game on the line, Cam Fici took it in close and shoved a shot through Davies’ pads to hit the side netting for the winning goal.

Belmont finished the shortened season with a record of 7-3-1.

Fall Sports: Modified Rules, Modified Fees As Seasons To Start By Month’s End

Photo: Belmont High Field Hockey will be playing this fall

There will be a fall sports season for Belmont High School student athletes as the Belmont School Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday night, Sept. 8, to approve an agreement by the Middlesex League which Belmont is a member on rules and safety.

With each sport – field hockey, golf, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country – having to undergo a number of modifications to limit contact and potentially unhealthy actions on the field, the School Committee modified the participation fee each players pays.

“We are entering into a very unique school year, not only academically Burt for our student athletes,” said Jim Davis, Belmont’s athletic director, who told the committee the fee will be cut by $150 to $300 due in not small part to the major changes each sport will undo.

For example, heading the ball in soccer is disallowed, penalty corners will be discontinued in field hockey and cross country will likely be a timed race rather than the traditional group event. In addition, sport teams will be playing a third of the usually number of games in recent season and there will be no post-season tournament.

Davis said he, Belmont Superintendent John Phelan and the high school coaches reviewed the modifications and the potential impact on each sport “and that’s why we are moving forward with the ask this evening to bring those sports … back into our school and allowing our student athletes the opportunity to compare in those activities.”

While the cut in the fees will reduce revenue from athletic activities to an estimated $86,000, expenses due to less games and personnel will fall to $98,000 for the fall sports season. Phelan said that an $11,000 deficit would have been seen as reasonable when the district was initially forecasting the impact on the bottom line.

The Middlesex agreement – which is following guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the high school’s governing body the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association – is providing guidelines on pre-workout and pre-contest screening, social distancing in practices, and protocols for equipment use, hydration and the cleaning of gym bags.

There are also measures to increase physical distancing – keeping players six feet apart for the majority of games and practices – and incorporating protective equipment to reduce the spread of respiratory particles.

Under the agreement approved, fall sports in the Middlesex League will start Monday Sept. 21. Golf will kick off the season during the week of Sept. 28.

Sports will have three teams – varsity, junior varsity and freshmen – limited to 25 participants. Due to restrictions on the number of students on buses, away games will be restricted to 22 players. There will be three varsity and two sub-varsity practices each week.

Field hockey and boys and girls soccer will play 10 games on Saturdays through October and November including Columbus Day and Veteran Day. Belmont teams will play the five opponents in the Middlesex Liberty division on back to back Saturdays, home and away. The season for these sports will start Oct. 3. Games postponed will not be rescheduled.

Cross country will have five dual meets over this time.

Spectators will be limited to one per player who will be provided a season badge. Face masks will be mandatory at each contest.

The School Committee is continuing to discuss if athletes will be reimbursed their participation fee if a sports season is cancelled due to health concerns including a spike in COVID-19 infection rates. That debate will be voted before the season begins next week.

Belmont Playing Modified Soccer, Field Hockey, XC This Fall; Volleyball, Swim, Football Move To ‘Floating’ Season

Photo: There will be a fall sports season at Belmont High School.

There will be Belmont High student/athletes playing this fall at Harris Field and on the links this fall as the athletic directors of the Middlesex League have approved their schools playing boys and girls soccer, field hockey, boys golf and boys and girls cross country, according to Belmont Schools Superintendent John Phelan who announced the decision at Wednesday, Sept. 2 School Committee marathon meeting.

But volleyball and swimming will be moving with football and competitive cheer to the newly created “floating” season that starts during the final weeks of February and ending in April.

School superintendents and athletic directors that represent Middlesex League schools approved a league-wide response to move forward with a fall season. It has been reported that Belmont will compete twice against teams in the league’s Liberty Division – Arlington, Winchester, Reading, Lexington, and Woburn – which will end for this year the annual competition against cross border rivals Watertown.

The decision by the Middlesex League comes as other athletic conferences such as the Mayflower and South Coast leagues on the South Shore and the nearby Northeastern Conference have canceled their fall schedule and moved it to the floating season, with the hope that the modifications would be suspended with changes in the severity of COVID-19.

While Belmont will be playing this fall, some of the sports will look quite different. Field hockey will now be played seven-against-seven – under normal conditions, there are 11 on each team – while penalty corners which are an important part of the game have been banned.

Soccer will see corner kicks and sideline throw-ins ended, reduced to free kicks that can not be sent into the goalie’s area. Defensive walls that help goalies to protect against free kicks have been suspended. But the most significant ban will be the end of heading the ball.

Cross country will likely be a timed event where each participant starts a certain length of time – usually 30 seconds – from the next runner.

Title Times Two: Girls’, Boys’ Hoops Take Middlesex Liberty Crowns

Photo: Defense has been the key to the Belmont High Girls’ league championship.

Everything was in place: a packed Wenner Field House, a celebration naming the high school’s main court after legendary boys’ head coach Paul Lyons and the opportunity Friday night for both of Belmont High School basketball teams to clinch league titles.

Girls’ Unbeaten Run Continues As Marauders Secure Crown

On Friday night, the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team played like a number one team.

In its first game since being selected the top squad in the Boston Globe Top 20 girls’ basketball poll, the 16-0 Marauders showed its dominance against its toughest league opponent, Reading Memorial, beating the Rockets, 51-39, to win the Middlesex League Liberty Division title.

“It feels amazing,” said senior center Ella Gagnon on achieve the championship at home.

“[It’s] great [to win the title] especially on this special night for Paul Lyons,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart after the victory. “It feels good instead of having our back against the wall. We didn’t want to be in a position where we’re crawling at the end of the season trying to keep up with what we’ve done.

But Hart doesn’t want her to team to ease up between the victory and the start of the MIAA tournament in two weeks.

“We still have two tough leagues left [against Arlington and Woburn] and we want to learn a lot a try to be better over the next week as we have Cathedral next week,” Hart said.

The clash with defending Div. 4 state champions Cathedral High School of Boston in the Comcast Dvinci Energy Basketball Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Woburn is starting to look like a match between the top two ranked teams in the Globe’s poll. 

On Friday’s tussle, Belmont came out firing from downtown as its league MVP candidate Megan Tan (14 points), frosh phenom Nina Minicozzi (8 points) and sophomore Maiya Bergdorf hit from beyond the three-point arc to give the Marauders a 9-6 lead. Senior center Jess Giorgio (8 points) put back the second of two offense rebounds followed by Bergdorf’s second 3 and a steal leading to a spinning layup by Giorgio saw Belmont end the opening quarter up 19-8.

“They definitely generate a lot of offense,” said Hart. “For [Tan], a lot of it comes from her defense.”

While the offense was hitting on all cylinders, it was the Marauders pressing defense is the fuel that runs the show. Despite averaging 57 points a game, Reading could not find its comfort zone with Belmont’s stifling 2-3 half court zone that had height in the middle – six players at 5’10” or taller topped off with Giorgio at 6’2″ – and a dogged crew of guards with fast hands looking for the steal or interception. For all of the Rockets power, Reading was held to miser-like six points in the second quarter as Belmont’s lead grew to 25-14.

While attempting just one shot in the game, Gagnon was a force under the basket, hauling in approximately 17 rebounds, each grabbed in heavy traffic. During a series under the Rockets’ hoop in the second quarter, Gagnon snagged four consecutive offensive rebounds in a matter of seconds.

“I just have fun with it. Defense is my thing. I just think like ‘I’m going to get this, this is mine and I go right for it’,” said Gagnon who will be playing soccer at Middlebury College next year.

“Amazing effort. Amazing, amazing. She was like a one-girl show,” said Hart of her first-off-the-bench forward.

“We do emphaize the importance of offensive rebounds because you get more chances, it’s as simple as that,” said Hart.

In the third quarter Belmont got four points each from Tan, Giorgio, Minicozzi and Bergdorf, leading to a final quarter which Bergdorf, who ended the night with 18 points, burying two open 3s. 

“I just thought to myself, I don’t have to prove myself, I just have to play my game,” said Bergdorf, who was high scorer against Reading in both games. 

“It’s a team game so I’m not going to be selfish, but, of course, if I have a shot, I’m going to take it.”

Marauders’ gets pushed late but sprints to the league title

With less than two minutes to play in the first half, already up 35-21, Belmont Boys’ Basketball put on a run over 15 seconds that all but put its game against Reading on ice, Friday on the newly named Coach Lyons Court at Belmont High. 

With the Rockets seeking to cut the advantage to under 10 before the half, senior center Danny Seraderian (16 points) came cruising to the basket and hit a cutting layup to bump the score up to 37-21. Racing down court, Seraderian outjumped two Reading forwards to drag down the rebound and swing it to sophomore Preston Jackson-Stephens (with a string of stellar games off the bench, with 11) on the go. Just to the left of the key, Jackson-Stephens feinted to the left, than powered to the basket leaving his defender hoping he didn’t break his ankles as the forward cruised in for the two. Time out Reading. 

Give credit to Reading for putting up, behind a barrage of 3s, a spirited third and fourth quarters cutting a 20-plus lead to only 10, 61-51, with 4:30 remaining in the game. 

But the comeback faded on Belmont’s next three possessions as Belmont’s other Danny, a Boston Globe All-Scholastic Division 1 player of the year candidate Danny Yardemian (30 points to lead all scorers) took control, hitting one of two from the line, scoring two with his reliable drive to the hoop before Seraderian stole the ball and drove all the way for a layup to lead Belmont on a 10-2 run to seal the 71-53 win.

The win saw the Marauders’ record now at 17-1, and ranked 8th in the Boston Globe’s Top 20 poll.

League Champs! Belmont Boys’ Swimming Takes Middlesex Season Title, First In Two Decades

Photo: The 2017-18 Belmont High Boys’ Swim team, Middlesex League champions.

“How about those Marauders!” shouted senior captain Will Findlay as his teammates cheered in response, as the team celebrated winning the Middlesex League regular season championship for the first time since 1998 after defeating the coop team of Watertown/Arlington high schools, 87-78, in the final dual meet of the season held in the Higginbottom Pool on Friday, Jan. 26.

The Marauders finished the season undefeated, 6-0, in the Middlesex League, losing only once in 2017-2018 by one point to Division 1 Needham to complete the year at 7-1.

“What a season,” said Findlay, one of the team’s five captains and its charismatic leader. “All the work that we put in for the past two years culminated in today. That’s a testament to our freshman class but also all the hard work by all my teammates and the coaching staff.”

For first-year Belmont Head Coach James Saidnawey, the trip to the regular season championship was more than met his expectations. “I knew we had a good team and when the freshmen stepped up early, I thought we could compete with anyone in the league.”

The 9th grader came through against Watertown/Arlington (which saw the coop team end its season a more than respectable 3-3) as three Belmont freshmen records fall by the wayside in a season where underclassmen produced better than expected results. Frosh standout Tor Metelmann is fast becoming Belmont High’s most versatile swimmer since Jessie Blake-West, setting a new 50-yard freestyle standard at 23,19 seconds and being a member of the two relays – 4×200 medley and 4×400 free. 

“Tor is just a star, and he’s going to continue to perform like that for us, not just this year but for years to come,” said Findlay.

Belmont dominated Friday’s meet, winning eight of the eleven events, with big performances by Luc Durand in his speciality the 100 fly (55.85), Sam Thompson in the 100 free (53.73) with Metelmann adding the 100 backstroke (in a swift 57.53) to his arsenal of talents.

For Findlay, his final race as a Marauder – anchoring in the 4×400 to victory – was special “since I have been swimming in this pool for years. It’s great, not just for the team and me, but it hopefully starts a winning tradition for the program.” 

The new championship banner that will go up in the Wenner Field House was in no less part won two days earlier on Wednesday, Jan. 24 when Belmont defeated league standout Lexington, as the meet came down to the final relay before the Marauders pulling out a 92-84 win.

“Let my heart get back to normal,” said Saidnawey when the score was announced to the standing room crowd at the Higginbottom. “[The meet] was won by our guys battling for [places] behind the winners that gave us the margin we needed at the end.”

Case in point: with the score tied at 50, Belmont went 1,2 and 5 in the 500 free with Damien Autissier winning with open water at 5 minutes 24 seconds followed by a gutsy swim by Jason Iler-Kenistan who stormed back in the final 200 to finish in 5:51.53, taking second by half a second while Norman Fu earned an essential point in fifth. 

“Jason is an absolute animal as a freshman, and he is going to be a great swimmer for years to come,” said Findlay. 

Belmont followed up the 500 by winning the 4×200 free relay as Metelmann, Rickey Ye, Findlay and anchor Thompson out-touched Lexington’s outstanding free swimmers by half a second (1:35.97 to 1:36.50). Despite a significant win by Durand in the 100 back, Lexington cut the deficit to six points, 76-70, leading into the penultimate race, the 100 breaststroke, which is longtime Belmont speciality (for both the girls and boys).

Metelmann continued his dominance in the race, going first in 1:04.76 followed by Bulat in 1:08.15 taking the second spot by nearly a second. And it was Ye who powered the final lap to grab fourth place in 1:10.44, outreaching Lexington’s swimmer by .13 seconds. The 12-4 point advantage gave the Marauders a 14 point lead entering the 4×400 free relay.

Only a sweep by the Minuteman of the three scoring places would result in the meet-ending up in a tie. But safe entries off the blocks saw Belmont’s #1 squad of Durand, Justin Dong, Michael Pizzuto and Autissier came home in second and secured the most prominent team victory in many years.  

This week, Belmont will attempt to add the Middlesex League Meet title to the regular season title before heading to the Division 2 North Sectionals and then a visit to the State Championships in mid-February.

26 Years In The Making: Belmont Baseball Captures League Title With Victory Over Reading

Photo: Belmont High’s Max Meier strikes out the final batter of the game for Belmont’s 6-4 victory over Reading.

The wait is over.

Twenty-six years since winning its last league title, Belmont High Baseball will hoist the 2017 Middlesex League Liberty Division championship banner on the wall of the Wenner Field House after the Marauders captured its first league pennant since 1991 with a hard-fought 6-4 victory over defending champions Reading Memorial High with a combination of clutch late-inning hitting and a gutsy pitching performance by the team’s lefthanded ace.

“How about that league championship?!” asked long-time Head Coach Jim Brown to his ecstatic players as the speakers blasted a new version of King Harvest’s 70’s classic “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

“You had a goal right from the beginning of the season. And you accomplished it. You made this town proud,” Brown told the players.

The team – 16-3 overall and 13-3 in the league – will end the regular season taking on one-loss Division 3 leading Lynnfield (17-1) on Friday, May 26 at 3:45 p.m. at “The Grant.” The Marauders will then finish the season hosting The Brendan Grant Tournament later in the week.

The Marauders’ secured the victory with a clutch two-out, two run rally that gave junior starter Nate Espelin the margin he needed to hold on for his sixth win with a herculean 119 pitch performance over 6 1/3 innings.

“I walked too many people, but I didn’t have to worry about striking out people because we made the defensive plays,” said the southpaw, who raised his record to 6-1.

While Espelin could not match his high teen strikeout numbers that he produced against Wilmington, Lexington and Reading the first time he faced them – a 1-0 9-inning loss – he relied on his curveball “which worked a little better today.”

On Wednesday, the Marauders’ bats were working as the top four of the order – junior leftfielder Connor Dacey, junior shortstop Steve Rizzuto, catcher Cal Christofori and junior first base Dennis Crowley – went a collective 8 for 13 with two doubles (both by Christofori) and 5 RBIs.

“I think I’ve seen the ball well lately. It’s just looking bigger and getting a good piece of it and driving it the other way [to right field],” said Crowley.

Belmont got off the mark quickly against Reading’s All-Star starter Corey DiLoreto in the first with a walk, a fielder’s choice and two singles with Crowley punching a single through the infield to bring home Rizzuto. It appeared the Marauders would increase the lead as a sacrifice fly by junior Ryan Noone sent Christofori home, but the plate umpire called the senior captain out for leaving third early.

Espelin had already thrown 40 pitches in the top of the third when he walked Reading’s Joe Bradley to bring up DiLoreto who pulverized an Espelin offering over the deepest part of the center field fence (352 feet) to give Reading its only lead of the game, 2-1. The inning ended with Rizzuto going deep in the hole to throw out the batter by half-a-step.

The Marauders swiftly recaptured the lead in the bottom of the frame, starting with Rizzuto (1-3) waiting on a slow curve to belt it between first and second for a single. Christofori (3-3 with a walk) then smashed a fastball into the gap between center and left that one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double.

“[Christofori’s] enthusiasm and passion today rubbed off on the entire team,” said Brown. 

Crowley followed by taking a full-count pitch into center for a single, bringing in Rizzuto to tie the score. Junior right fielder/pitcher Max Meier continued the hitting onslaught with his own single to send Christofori across the plate. The Marauders’ final run of the inning came when Crowley scampered home on a Bryan Goodwin sacrifice fly, upping the lead to 4-2.

The title was sealed with two down in the sixth when Reading took out DiLoreto. Belmont quickly pounced on reliever Mike Rainone loading the bases on a Conner Dacey single and walks to Rizzuto and Christofori.

Dennis completed his big day at the plate battling back from a two-stroke deficit to rocket a 2-2 pitch into center to bring in Dacey and Rizzuto to double Belmont’s lead from two to four at 6-2.

“He got me down 0-2 on a pitch I thought was a little low. But what are you going to do? I took the next two pitches to even it up then got a pitch I liked and ripped it,” said Crowley who drove in half the team’s runs and scored once.

“This team knows what to do with the stick [bat] and are selective with their pitches. They work at it,” said Brown.

Those final runs were critical as Reading staged its own late rally in the top of the 7th. DiLoreto walked, and after a sacrifice bunt, consecutive infield errors and a Ben Fischer single that dropped in front of Goodwin saw the Rockets cut the lead in half to 6-4 with the go-ahead run at the plate.

“I was making sure [the athletic trainer] had the heart defibrillator ready because I didn’t know if I could take it,” said Brown.

With nearly 120 pitches in the book, Brown elected to pull Espelin for junior righthander Meier. With Rockets at the corner, Meier relied on his fastball to strikeout the 8 and 9 batters; the final punch out caught the batter looking.

After the celebrations which included running through a “victory tunnel” set up by the Boys’ Rugby team and a bucket of water over Brown’s head, the coach again heaped praise on his team and the eight seniors.

“This is the best group of kids I’ve coached. They know how to battle for the entire game, the entire season,” said Brown.

Belmont Girls’ Track Takes League Title, First in Nearly 40 Years

Photo: Belmont High Girls’ Spring Track in action.

“Hotel California” and lots of disco was playing on the radio, “Star Wars” was the monster hit at the movies, TV viewers loved “Laverne & Shirley,” leisure suits were big for men and women wore high-waisted bell-bottoms and the “Farrah-flip.”

And in that same year of 1977, Belmont High’s Girls’ Spring Track came home with the league championship. And it would take nearly five decades before another Belmont team would be able to raise the trophy again. 

On Tuesday, May 12, just as the final relay finished with Belmont defeating hosts Winchester, 88-48, several senior got hold of a water bucket filled with ice and doused Head Coach Melissa Glotzbecker with a celebratory dunking as the team completed the season undefeated (6-0) and atop the Middlesex League, which took 38 years to repeat.

Then, as part of a tradition with victorious girls teams, the squad cheered and yelled from Belmont Center to the school from the buses transporting them back home. 

“We had no idea it was that long since the last title,” said Glotzbecker. Since no one could recall the last title, she went to the Wenner Field House to view the championship banners on the wall to finally determine how very long it had been. 

“So we’re proud that we’ll be putting up another [banner] for the school to see,” the former St. Lawrence distance runner said.

Belmont was able to defeat traditionally large and strong programs such as Lexington and Reading due to this year’s squads depth, said Glotzbecker. 

“We are really strong in so many events and that makes us very diverse in terms of scoring,” said Glotzbecker, noting the team has qualified multiple runners, jumpers, and field events athletes to the Div. III state championships at Durfee High School in late May, not sending participants in the shot, discus and pole vault, the last which Belmont does not compete. 

“But it’s not just those who are scoring that makes up this team, everyone who worked hard this year contributed to the success of the team. We wouldn’t be this good without being pushed and supported by the entire team,” she said. 

Next for the team is the Div. III relays at Burlington on Saturday, May 16, “which will be fun as it’s a true team event” before preparing for the Middlesex League meet on Tuesday, May 19, at Regis College. 

Belmont Girls Swimming in League of Their Own Winning Middlesex Title

Ev Crosscup isn’t known for showing much emotion poolside when his Belmont High School Girls’ Swimming squad is competing. He’s usually sitting placidly with his assistant coaches, reviewing times and quietly watching as the action swirls around him.

But after reviewing the score with one event remaining in the biggest duel meet this season, the long-time Marauders’ leader briefly pumped his fist as a little smile come to his face as he headed for the rear of the pool at Minuteman Tech.

“We got it,” Crosscup said while passing to meet the girls.

For the past two seasons, host Lexington High came to the 400 yard freestyle relay to prevent Belmont from securing outright the coveted Middlesex League title.

Not this time.

In a maelstrom of screaming teenagers (and parents), suffocating humidity and over-the-top drama, Belmont revamped its event lineup and received important contributions from the deep and talented squad to pile up just enough points to make the final event irrelevant as the Marauders defeated the Minutemen, 84-82, to win sole possession of the Middlesex League title on Friday evening, Oct. 24 in Lexington.

“What a meet and what a win for the league championship,” said Crosscup. “We knew it was going to be a close on and it came down to the end so you have to credit all the kids and coaches,” he said.

The win left team veterans, who twice felt the sting of an only defeat of the year to the Minutemen, speechless.

“Knowing that we just won, I really have no words to explain how I feel right now,” said senior Kaitlin Feloney, who was first in line to congratulate the Minutemen after the win was announced.

“We knew we were strong this year and that it would come down to Lexington. It’s incredible that I was able to lead the team with the three other captains” said Feloney, who shares the team’s captaincy with fellow seniors Eunice Lee, Klaudia Nagrabska and Maya Nagishima.

“We kept a positive attitude throughout the year, and it all paid off tonight,” she said.

The meet was as much a chess match as a contest of straight-line swimming speed when Crosscup dropped his two best swimmers, juniors Jessica Blake-West (the defending Div. 2 state champion in the 100 butterfly and second at states in the 200 individual medley) and Emily Quinn (a state finalist in the 100 breaststroke) into freestyle events which have been Belmont’s weakest stroke for the past few years.

In the meet’s biggest showdown, the pair would battle it out in the 100 freestyle with the Minutemen’s free specialist Jayne Vogelzang, who finished second in the same event at last year’s Div. 1 state championships with a 54.27.

But on this night, Blake-West showed why she, along with Bishop Feehan’s senior Mari Reidemeister (who will attempt next month to qualify and represent Costa Rica in the 2015 World Swimming Championships) are two of the best all-around swimmers in the state by powering away from Vogelzang to win by a second-and-a-half in 54.69 seconds.

Quinn took the vital third place (1:00.27) points with the ever-improving freshman Ophelie Loblack – who was an impressive youth swimmer in Maryland – stormed home in fourth (1:01.15). The event gave Belmont 11 points to Lexington’s 5 to build a 52-42 lead midway through the meet.

“It was a good move,” said Crosscup. “In this particular incident, it took a first place away from their best swimmer with our best swimmer. That matched up perfect. You worry about it working out, but this time it did so wonderfully.”

Belmont was building on a lead after the opening event, the 200 yard medley relay – in which the four relay members swims a different stroke – when Belmont’s top team (Blake-West, Quinn, Nagishima and Alison Sawyer) won going away in 1:56.12 with Belmont’s second squad, made up of Nagrabska, Molly Thomas, Julia Bozkurtian and Solvay Metelmann, took a strong second (by a third of a second over Lexington’s ‘A’ team) as the Marauders’ third relay – Sarah Osborn, Sarah Stewart, Stephanie Zhang and Julia Cunningham – came in fourth, giving the Marauders a 12-2 advantage off the bat.

Crosscup’s tactical move meant the team would need to rely on many underclassmen and role athletes scoring well against an experienced Lexington team. And in nearly every race, a Marauder challenged for placements from their host to cut the points the Minutemen could accumulate.

“I know for a fact whether you swam first heat or second or you came in first or sixth, we won that meet because of our emotion and depth. They may have been a better team, but we relied on that emotion,” said Feloney.

In the 200 freestyle, Sara Noorouzi took 4th (2:11.35) by just over a tenth of a second, Dervla Moore-Frederick finished 5th in individual medley (won by Blake-West) to win the event 9 to 7, Loblack and Sawyer took second and third in the 50 free (27.15 to 27.16) that would not have been anticipated in September while Nagashima and Thomas broke up the top two Lexington backstroke specialists by bringing home a second and third.

“I couldn’t be prouder and pleased with what they contributed,” he said.

“The one I was most pleased with was [co-captain Eunice] Lee. Because of her times and the situation we found ourselves in, I had her go in the 100 [butter]fly (finishing second after a false start moved her up a spot in 1:08.03), rest an event and then go the 500 free (taking 4th in 5:52.15). That was an ironman type of job. And despite the lack of rest, she did beautifully,” said Crosscup.

“I could have used another swimmer who would have been good, but that swimmer could not make up the seconds Lee has in the 500,” he said.

With Lexington just four points back coming into the penultimate event, Crosscup pulled out three aces there were up his sleeve; a trio of the best breaststroke swimmers in Eastern Massachusetts. At last year’s state championship, Quinn (3rd), Nagrabska (4th) and Osborn (10th) were three of the four Belmont swimmers in the top 10. And the experience of swimming in big meets paid off as the three swept the event, Quinn (1:11.53) first, Osborn (1:13.60) second and Nagrabska (1:15.87) third.

The wins pushed Belmont’s lead to 14, 85-71, with the 400 free relay to come. With only 12 points available to the Minutemen, the long-awaited league victory was secured. While the crowd and swimmers could only guess at the score – no announcement is given and the score is not put up on a scoreboard – they knew something was up when Blake-West and the other top swimmers did not line up for the final event.

All that was left was an exchange of hugs and high fives, congratulate Lexington and for the team to scream in unison as it traveled through Belmont Center and by the football field.

“We’re Middlesex League champions. That’s a nice sound,” said Crosscup.