Hockey: Gray’s Masterpiece Earns Belmont Girls’ Important Point Vs Winchester; Boys’ Rely On First Line, Again, To Eek Out A Tie

Photo: Bridget Gray is Belmont’s GOAT in the nets.

There was no right for the Belmont High School Girls’ Ice Hockey squad to walk away with one point against ten-win Winchester. For most of the game, the action was one-way-only traffic heading into the Belmont zone as the Marauders were chasing the puck for three periods.

But at the end of overtime, Belmont players swarmed their junior co-captain goalie Bridget Gray who gave the Marauders the lifeline to escape the Skip with a valuable 2-2 tie. If Gray has had a more impactful regular season game in her three varsity seasons please remind us as her performance against Div. 2 top-five Winchester was a masterpiece.

From the first 10 seconds where she stoned a clear breakaway to the final seconds of the 50 minutes she was on the ice, Gray stopped 54 of 56 shots, a monumental shot rate of 19 per period. But it’s unusual for Gray – who has been a starter since the 2019-20 season – to see a ton of pucks come her way as she surpassed 1,500 saves in her career.

The attempts at goal were a collection of challenging testers, many coming from open looks as opponents drove to the net forcing Gray to make instinctual reaction saves including after only six minutes when she stopped her second breakaway of the period and then smother the shot attempt off the rebound.

It was remarkable that Belmont (6-5-2) was only down 1-0 after 15 minutes as Winchester scored after crashing the net and ping-ponging the puck in. The second period didn’t look any more promising for Belmont, especially after a tripping call put a Marauder in the box for a second time in the period. But against the run of play, Belmont scored short handed when junior Lily Duffy sped into the Winchester zone and unleashed a wrister that hugged the ice beating the goalie stick side at 9:40 remaining.

Paraphrasing the line from Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles,” scoring on Winchester only made them mad and they came out looking to retake the lead coming close with a shot that sat on the goal-line, another off the crossbar from a blocker save and Gray stealing a goal heading into the open net with her glove and pads. But Gray could not singlehandedly hold back the onslaught and gave up the second just past halfway in the period.

But once again, Belmont scored out of no where when sophomore forward Gretchen Hanley was at the right place at the right time to pickup the puck from a mangled attempt of a save to tie it up at two. After so much work just to tie the score, Gray and Belmont would bend but not break to secure the tie. (Belmont would secure a 1-1 tie vs Reading

While Belmont kept its record above .500, the importance of the Gray-inspired draw is realized when looking at the now all-important power rankings table as the Marauders jumped five places in Division 2 from 34th to 29th, just above the 32nd place cutoff to remain eligible for the state tournament. But the tie against a .500 Reading has Belmont right at the 32nd cutoff.

And Belmont will need to rely on Gray to come up big in the final four games of the year as the team faces a true running of gauntlet of stellar opponents in the next two weeks – Arlington (ranked 2nd in Div. 1), Woburn (12th in D2), Haverhill (9th) and undefeated Winthrop (14th). Conceivably the Marauders could loss each game and stay inside the 32nd placement due to the high ranking of the opponents which can actually be beneficial when calculating the rankings. But Belmont would need to keep each game close, something Gray will have a big say.

Tired Ties For The Boys

Midway through overtime in its game against Middlesex League rivals Reading, Belmont (15-1-2) replaced two of its top offense line and number one defensive pair from the ice. Those who saw the players coming off wouldn’t be so wrong to believe they were watching a recreation of Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow: there couldn’t be a more exhausted looking group dragging themselves back to the bench. Less than a minute later, the The reason for the image was clear: the five players were on the ice for much of the game which ended in a 1-1 stalemate.

And if you know who they are, you’d know why they should be out there for long stretches of time. The first line of senior Matty Rowen and juniors Shay Donahue and Cam Fici is the most productive and active group in the Middlesex League if not the state. They pop on the ice and suddenly it is theirs: they can dominate between the blue lines and then combine with deft passing and a deadly eye – especially from Fici who is nearing 30 goals this season – for the back of the net.

The stats tell it all: Of Belmont’s 16 goals in the past 7 games, 15 have been planted by the first line. The last non-Rowen, Donahue, Fici goal came from sophomore Matt Pomer against Woburn nearly a month ago.

Over on the defensive side, one of the best pairs in these parts is juniors Joe Gaziano and Peter Grace who have cultivated a partnership that provides a solid back line in front of all-star senior goalie Ryan Griffin.

And it’s not that Belmont is bereft of talented players: sophomore defender Adrien Gurung is a talented two-way worker (he scored Belmont’s first goal against top ranked Arlington in its 2-2 tie in January) while seniors Joe Michaud, Joe Dolan and Nathan Kefeyan have the toughness to play in the Middlesex League and youngsters such as the Pomer brothers (Matt and Mike) and junior Andrew Ferreira are getting their chance on the ice.

Yet when it comes to holding onto a slim lead, to be out there on the power play and short handed or if there is a need for a score, it’s likely the starting five will be called on. Just how much will Belmont’s bench use this set of assets as they come across giants such as Arlington away (Wednesday) and at home against Catholic Memorial (Friday) during the week will indicate their future use during the MIAA Div. 1 tournament where Belmont and Walpole are defending co-champions.

Belmont Hoops: Stratford’s First Game In Charge A Success; Girls’ A Work In Progress

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Boys’ “New” Coach’s account opens With A Victory

When head coach Adam Pritchard was installed as the school’s acting Athletic Director, the Belmont High Boys’ Basketball team found themselves looking for just its third head coach in several decades.

But the school didn’t have to look far for Pritchard’s replacement as long-time tenured JV coach Tim Stratford has taken over running the program. And while a rookie leader in name only, Stafford was as excited as any first-time coach as Belmont got the season underway with a scrappy 64-59 opening victory against Middlesex League Liberty Division foe Winchester.

”Excellent start. They showed a great deal tonight,” said a smiling Stratford after the victory as the Marauders ended the calendar year with four victories in the first six games as it now begins a stretch against very difficult League opponents.

Relying on a combination of strong defense led by senior center Kevin Logan and launching lots of threes, Belmont demonstrated a balanced scoring attack led by senior Tyler Arno with 16 points, followed by sophomore Donovan Holway contributing 13 as senior Thomas Ryder, junior Collin Galloway and senior Nick Giangregorio scored 10 a piece.

It looked as if Belmont was going to run away from Winchester from the start stretching an early lead 19-6 at the end of the first 12 minutes. But Winchester would quietly rally with a 11-2 run and just before the half the once safe lead was down to two, 27-25, as Belmont’s three-point prowess fizzed out.

“We got out to a slow start in the second and it’s just some things that it’s early in the season so I’m not surprised they’re making some mistakes,” Stratford said.

Winchester would take a brief one point lead early in the third, Belmont would climb back on top with their favorite threes from Arno, Ryder and Giangregorio to lead 44-37 entering the fourth quarter. And while built the margin to 11 with 87 seconds remaining in the game. Winchester’s long distance shots found the range and the lead dwindled down to two possessions – 63-59 – with 25 seconds to play, but the Marauders hung on for the W.

“I liked all what I saw tonight because they played within themselves and within the game,” he said “But they sure scared the heck out of me at the end,” said Stratford.

At 4-2, the season has seen good wins against out-of-league opponent Dracut – which defeated Brockton and Chelmsford – and Liberty division foe Arlington. The team enters the new year to begin the bulk of its season against Middlesex league opponents starting at Melrose on Tuesday, Jan. 4, at 7:30 p.m.

Girls’ Hoops Finding Out What Will Work

When you enter a season with a young and mostly untested team, it will take some time before the coach knows just what combination of players will give them the best results. And it appears Belmont High Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Melissa Hart will be performing that task for the foreseeable future.

In the season opener against Winchester at the Wenner Field House, Hart made several wholesale changes – at times entering four subs. But just who that group will be was not discovered that night as it was a rough start for the Marauders coming on the wrong side of a 50-32 loss.

“This team is certain a work in progress,” said Hart, who will miss three past varsity starters – including a league all-star – who transferred to private schools.

That lack of experience showed itself against Middlesex League Liberty opponent Winchester. Headed by the familiar figure of Belmont’s assistant volleyball coach, Sam Mosley, Winchester begins the season with its strongest team in memory with a trio of tall talented starters led by sophomore forward Emily Collins who score 12 points in the second quarter finishing with a game high 22 points.

Belmont is currently relying on senior guard Sara Dullaghan, the only starter with varsity experience going back to the playoff team of 2019-20. The starting guard’s quickness on defense and ability to get into the open court to slash to the basket saw her score 9 of Belmont’s 14 first half points and 7 of its 9 in the fourth to end the game with 15 points. Junior Sophie McDevitt finished with 6 points as Paula Dullaghan came through with 4 points.

Newcomers to watch this season includes freshmen forward Cortney Howell (three blocks and a raw force under the basket) 9th grade point guard Linda Sheng and sophomore Mia Ferrari.

After its annual trip to the Garden City Classic at Newton South High School over the holiday break, Belmont stands at at 2-4 overall, and 2-2 in the Middlesex League as it prepares for a month of Middlesex League opponents beginning with Melrose at the Wenner Field House on Tuesday, Jan. 4.

Rookie QB Leads Belmont High Football Over Winchester, 41-14, As Lexington Looms

Photo: Belmont High senior RB Gordon Lassiter on his way scoring the Marauders’ second TD vs Winchester on Friday night.

It was suppose to be the year sophomore Jayden Arno would learn the quarterback position behind senior Ryan Broderick, getting a few snaps under center during practice, playing on the JV and watching from the sidelines on Friday night.

Fast forward to Oct. 21 when Broderick injured his non-throwing arm against a strong Reading team and Arno was thrown in against an undefeated Rockets defense. While he was under pressure on nearly every play, Arno did show a willingness to take a shot down field and tuck the ball and run mopping up in the 34-0 loss.

So the expectations for a 15-year-old starting his first varsity game were guarded at best as the Marauders traveled to Winchester for a match up under the Friday Night Lights.

But as the clock hit triple zeros 48 minutes after it started, Arno – who was one of the youngest players on the field – led the Marauders to a dominate 41-14 victory over Winchester, upping Belmont’s record to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the Middlesex League Liberty Division.

Showing the maturity of a quarterback who had been in charge for a while, Arno threw for three touchdowns, ran for an another and had no interceptions in a game that Belmont never trailed and where the defense allowed a single scoring drive.

”I felt good going out there and playing, coming into the game wanting to win,” said Arno. “The [practice] week went off [well] and I was running with the first offense which really helped,” he said. What also helped, Arno noted, is that he’s been playing football “my entire life” as well as learning the game from his brothers: Tyler, a senior defensive back and wide receiver, and Avery, a two-year varsity starting Marauder quarterback who also threw for three touchdowns in his inaugural varsity game as a junior vs. Milton in 2018.

For Marauder first year Head Coach Brian McCray, a week after being beat up by Reading, “we really wanted to come out this week and just give it our all. We had a couple of people banged up and a lot of guys stepped up this week and they did an unbelievable job,” point out out both Arno and junior Ben Williams who would score his first touchdown on Arno’s and the teams final score.

Belmont started the night’s scoring thanks to the defense as junior Chris Cogliano stepped in front of a Winchester pass to scamper 33 yards to give the Marauders a 6-0 lead mid-way through the first quarter. After a dominate defensive stance highlighted by a key third down stop by sophomore lineman Max Cornelius, Arno – who was making the most of a series of swing passes on the drive – found senior Gordon Lassiter in the flats and it was a race 26 yards to the end zone that Lassiter won to make the score 13-0 at the end of the first.

Arno than showed his arm as Cogliano took a pass between two defenders and raced 61 yards to the house and a 20-6 lead at the 7:40 mark of the second. Winchester responded on the next play as the Marauder kick off squad believed they saw Derek Gianci go out of bounds. But the referee didn’t see it that way and Gianci took it to the house to cut the lead to 20-7. Arno nearly got the TD back when he found senior Kevin Logan on a 26 yard strike to the Winchester 6 as time ran out in the half.

Winchester took the kick off and benefiting from a pass interference call marched the ball in for a score via Gianci two yard third down plunge to cut the lead to 20-14 at 7:38 remaining in the third. But from there Belmont would score three consecutive TD: a three yard rush from sophomore Adrien Gurung, a 10 yard designed quarterback run by Arno and a bullet from 10 yards out from Arno to Williams.

Next up for Belmont is Lexington (1-3) on Friday, Oct. 15 under the lights at Harris Field at 6 p.m. with an opportunity to move closer to securing a playoff slot.

“It’s just a great opportunity for us against a great team,” said McCray. “We’re gonna play one play at a time, one game at a time.”

A High School Doubleheader Headlights Soccer Night In Belmont On Saturday, Oct. 2

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The Belmont High School Boys and Girls Varsity soccer teams will headline a doubleheader of top-notch soccer at the sixth annual Soccer Night in Belmont on Saturday, Oct. 2.

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.

The games, to be played under the lights at Harris Field, will see the Marauders meet Middlesex League rivals Winchester: the Boys game at 4:30 pm followed by a Girls game at 6:30 pm. The teams will vie for the Phoenix Cup and the honor of having their team’s name engraved on it.  

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. Winchester 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 the Belmont Soccer Association in nurturing the talent that makes our high school teams year in and year out,” said event organizer John Carson. “We hope for a big crowd for 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 youth soccer team.”

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 the Belmont Soccer Association, Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS), and The Phoenix Landing.

Sports: Holiday Near Sweep Dampened By Season Ending Loss of Girls’ Hockey Captain

Photo: Emma O’Donovan with Belmont High Head Coach Ken Murphy

Belmont High sports teams came out of the Martin Luther King Day holiday on the right foot as all four teams took away points in their reverse fixtures against Winchester on Monday, Jan. 18.

But a dark cloud ascended over the day’s good results as the Belmont High Girls Ice Hockey program lost its most dynamic player for the remainder of the shortened season.

Senior captain and offensive powerhouse Emma O’Donovan suffered a serious injury in the final five minutes of the Marauders 3-2 victory over the Sachems in a game played at Woburn. While picking up a puck behind the Winchester’s net, O’Donovan – who scored a pair of goals in the game – was pushed into the end boards by a Sachem defender. O’Donovan went directly to the ice and stayed there for nearly 10 minutes.

The Winchester player was issued a game misconduct for a boarding infraction – it’s unknown if the penalty was reduced post game – as O’Donovan was taken for medical care. A number of individuals with direct knowledge of the injury said the senior captain suffered a broken leg in two places.

O’Donovan’s line mate senior Sam Rocci scored the Marauders other goal as Belmont saw its record rise to 3-0-1.

The loss of O’Donovan is especially hard for the team and community knowing how the senior has struggled and succeeded to stay on the ice and the field hockey pitch. A first-year phenom, O’Donovan missed her sophomore year in 2018 after it was discovered she was suffering a aneurysmal bone cyst in her left ankle, result in her missing that year and required multiple operations. An article in the Boston Globe (“Belmont’s Emma O’Donovan has been the epitome of perseverance” Jan. 13), detailed her effort to getting back on the ice at the same high standards as before the diagnostic.

O’Donovan was seeking to reach the 100 point career mark and was 21 points from that goal after scoring eight goals and one assist this season.

Senior Caleb Christensen put in an offensive rebound with 14 seconds remaining to give Belmont Boys’ Basketball a 62-61 over previously undefeated Winchester (3-1) at the Wenner Field House. The victory marks the second time the Marauders (2-2) lost the first game of a series only to take the second, having lost to Winchester by three, 52-49, on Saturday.

After rolling past Winchester in the first game three days earlier by 28 points (80-52), Belmont Girls’ Basketball had a bit of a tighter game against the Sachems but came out on top, 42-34, as the team goes to 3-1 in the season.

Boys hockey fell behind twice only to rally with two goals in the second to earn the tie against the Sachems to remain undefeated. Senior Ben Fici and sophomore Peter Grace tallied for the 3-0-1 Marauders as sophomore goalie Ryan Griffin posted 34 saves.

Soccer Night In Belmont Kicks Off With Varsity Doubleheader Sat. Sept 21

Photo: Soccer Night in Belmont

The Belmont High School Boys and Girls Varsity soccer teams will headline the 4th annual “Soccer Night in Belmont” this Saturday, Sept. 21, starting at 4:30 p.m. at Harris Field

Joining the high school teams will. be hundreds of players from 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 vs. Middlesex League rival Winchester: the girls’ will play at 4:30 p.m. followed by a boys’ 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. Winchester 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 Youth Soccer in nurturing the talent that makes up these teams year in and year out,” said event organizer John Carson.

“We hope to match last year’s crowd of 2,000 for another 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 youth soccer team.”

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 the Belmont Soccer Association, People’s United Bank Foundation, Belmont Boosters, Parents of Music Students (POMS), Phoenix Landing, and Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS), with special thanks Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis.

Trout FG Gives Belmont 17-14 OT Win Over Winchester

Photo: Belmont High’s kicker Hampton Trout hits the game-winning field goal in overtime to defeat Winchester.

Belmont High’s kicker Hampton Trout just hoped he would get a second opportunity to decide the game with Winchester after his 43-yard attempt sailed wide left as time ran out with the score knotted at 14. And when the Belmont defense stuffed Wilmington on its attempt to score in overtime, Trout got that chance to play hero with a 19-yard attempt.

“Everyone was coming up to me yelling ‘You got this, you got this’ and it getting into my head a little bit. But when I got out there and took my three steps back from where I was going to kick it, I knew it was going in,” said the junior kicker who was having a great night with a pair of touchbacks on kickoffs and punts that twice flew and rolled for more than 50 yards.

And Trout didn’t disappoint, splitting the uprights to defeat the Sachems in the first overtime, 17-14, on Friday, Oct. 5 to put Belmont (3-2, 1-2 in the league) in the driver’s seat for its first trip in the program’s history to the MIAA Division 3 North playoffs.

“While I practice as a wide receiver and quarterback, I stay after practice to work in my kickoffs and punting. And it really made a difference tonight,” said Trout whose exploits earned him the game ball.

The win against Winchester (3-2, 2-1) both a Middlesex Liberty Division and Division 3 North rival, 

“These guys worked so hard that they deserved this win,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin who was his ecstatic self when Trout’s kick went through the uprights. 

Under the Friday night lights, Belmont’s defense shined as it put the clamps on the high scoring Winchester offense led by DB and co-captain Jared Edwards who slapped away numerous attempts directed at his side while junior Justin Rocha continued his outstanding all-around play. And it was a big night for the big men led by junior defensive lineman Derrick Brown who garnered two-and-a-half sacks and a number of hurries on Winchester QB Tony Fiorentino while marshaling the D-line and putting the clamps on running backs Brendan Curran and Jakob Flores.

“I’m really proud of the defense. I threw the gauntlet down about our defense being physical and doing great work. We felt we were pretty physical against Reading but we gave up too many big plays. Today we only gave up two so we know we have something going on defensively,” said Kumin.

Offensively, Belmont’s vaunted ground game was finding it hard to get a rhythm going, but it only needed a fortunate bounce to get on the scoreboard. 

Junior QB Avery Arno fumbled the ball that hit off the turf and straight into RB Rhaki Joseph’s hands. The senior running back continued the play, sweeping around the left end where Edwards had the key block and into the clear along the sideline for a 49-yard second quarter touchdown.

“The ball bounced up like it’s supposed to. That’s how we drew that one up,”said Kuman, who pointed to the heavens in silent thanks as Joseph scored.

On an unfortunate note, the game was halted for 20 minutes after a Winchester player suffered a severe lower-body injury requiring him to be taken by ambulance for treatment.

Belmont nearly took the one touchdown lead into the half, but an Arno pass into double coverage was picked off at the Belmont 47 with just more than two minutes left. After a 15-yard penalty put the Sachems behind the 8 ball with a fourth down and 12 at the 39 with 16 seconds left, Fiorentino found Matt Romagna with a perfect pass for the touchdown.

After a defensive third quarter, Winchester began its one sustained drive in the game after recovering a Belmont fumble at the 48-yard line. The Sachems were resourceful, converting a pair of third and fours, survived a sack from senior interior linebacker Sam Harris and Brown.

After allowing an 18-yard pass completion on a 4th down and 15 that put the ball on the 10-yard line, the Belmont defense came through forcing a 4th down on the 5. The subsequent field goal attempt by Fiorentino was blocked by Harris.

After taking the ball on the 20, Belmont faced a 3rd and 8 from its own 22, when Aron hit Johnson with a swing pass looking for a short gain. As defenders Johnson exploded through a small opening inside then quick stepped it outside and sailed down right sidelines for a 78-yard touchdown with 7:22 remaining.

But the Sachems came straight back with a perfect pass action which saw Romagna romp 45 yards to the Belmont 5. The Sachems tied the score on a third down and inches plunge by Fiorentino with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Belmont would keep the ball for nearly the remainder of the quarter, mixing runs and passes to Edwards to give Trout his first chance at winning the game. Despite the miss, Kumin had a feeling that his team would take home the win. 

 “I knew our defense wouldn’t make it easy for them to score so we had a chance,” said Kumin.

After last Saturday’s games, Belmont sits in third of the eight playoff places with two games remaining, insuring a home postseason game. Next Saturday, Belmont travels to 4-1 Lexington for a Saturday afternoon Prep School style tussle on the Minuteman’s grass field before ending the scheduled season against Arlington, currently at 1-4.

Belmont Volleyball Extends Record Winning Streak To 6, Tops Middlesex Liberty Division

Photo: Waiting for the serve.
Belmont High School Volleyball continued its historic winning streak by defeating perennial league powerhouse Winchester, 3-2 (18-25, 26-24, 25-23, 18-25, 15-5), on Friday, Sept. 21 at the Wenner Field House. The Marauders’ (6-0-0) six consecutive victories to begin the season breaks a long-standing team consecutive win streak that stood at five. The win places Belmont atop the Middlesex League Liberty Division standings.

“This is the most mentally tough team that I’ve ever coached,” said Belmont Head Coach Jen Couture. “Teams like Winchester push us to play our best and that’s what we had to do to win that match. It was a team effort.”
“They aren’t afraid of making mistakes, but instead, learn and adjust. They understand that we’re going to lose points and sets but the most important thing is who wins the last one.  They have the will to win and escalate their game to match each opponent,” Couture said.
Couture pointed to the consistent play of Belmont senior co-captain Leah Babroudi throughout the match, who was 15 for 15 serving with 3 aces, and perfect on serve receive 21 for 21. 
“Leah was all over the place on defense, covering her hitters and keeping balls alive. She is one of the biggest competitors on the team and her energy on the court is contagious. She is so tough and never lets a missed dig get to her.  She just shakes it off and gets the next ball up,” said Couture, who captained Belmont in 2004.

The Marauders started off a little slow in the first, keeping pace with the Sachems until they pushed from 19-18 to 25-18 to close the first set. 

The second set was back and forth, with each team going on 3-5 point scoring runs including one by Jenny Vetrano to bring the Marauders to 24-18.  Vetrano was 18 for 18 serving with 1 ace. The Sachems sided out and Senior Captain Luna Colozzo went on a run of her own bringing the score to 24-24 before the Marauders could side out and finish off the set 26-24. 
The third set was also close throughout with the Marauders inching away later in the set to win 25-23.  As the match progressed, libero Sophia Estok continued to read Winchester’s hitters better and better making incredible digs (25 total).  Setter Mindee Lai also played superb defense and was second in digs with 17. 
Strong passes and smart hits by senior co-captain Jane Mahon (14 kills) helped the Marauders to get into a groove early in the fourth set, as they were able to side out on the first pass for the first 5 servers. However, a serving rotation error saw Belmont’s lead reduced from 10-5 to 8-6, which caused the team to lose momentum and eventually the set.

While it was too late to take back the set, which they dropped 18-25, they picked up enough steam to start off the fifth set strong.  Estok went back to serve and brought the Marauders to a 6-1 lead.  Clutch kills to by Nena Trifunovic (7 total, 4 of her last 5 swings being kills) kept the momentum going and the team never let up.  Finally at 11-5 Mahon went back to serve and finished out the match, ending the final set 15-5.

 

Belmont is back home in the Wenner Field House hosting Arlington on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m.

In Match Of Unbeatens, Belmont High Field Hockey Sprints Past Winchester, 3-0

Photo: Puppy pile for Belmont’s second goal with sophomore Emma O’Donovan taking the prize.

In an early season matchup of the creme of the Middlesex League Liberty crop, Belmont High Field Hockey provided Friday afternoon that team speed is dangerous for opponents as the Marauders ran past defending league champions Winchester High, 3-0.

“It’s all the 400s [meter] runs I make them do,” said Belmont Head Coach Jess Smith as her team, ranked 15th in the Boston Globe Top 20 poll, remains undefeated at 4-0-0 while Winchester, ranked 6th in the Globe poll, drops to 2-1-0.

“We knew we were good but to beat someone like [Winchester, which last year made the Division 1 North finals] makes it’s not just talking. The win makes it ‘legit,'” said Smith.

Senior co-captain and wing Morgan Chase, junior midfield Katie Guden and sophomore forward Emma O’Donovan scored in the first half as the Marauders kept the majority of possession for most of the first 30 minutes.

For Smith, the victory was a combination of her player’s quickness and their commitment to ball movement.

“I think our speed is killer,” she said. “We have athletic kids, we are super aggressive all over the field, and our passing is extremely good,” said Smith. “No one can run faster than a ball so if we can keep passing it up the field that quickly, we’re gonna get into the [scoring] circle faster than their backs.”

The Marauders’ team up-tempo pace showed as it took away passing lanes in the middle of the field. Belmont also took the majority of 50/50 balls as well as stealing the ball on man-to-man clashes with Belmont’s senior forward and co-captain Jordan Lettiere, the prime suspect in many of those heists. 

Along the back line, junior Meaghan Noone effectively shut down Winchester’s right side attacks. Junior Emma Donahue was once again a significant presence in the middle as sophomore Hayley Koenigsberg kept Winchester’s outstanding senior forward Claire Moloney-Kolenberg in check off the left wing in the battle of the great German/Dutch surnames.

“You just have to get psyched up, getting really low to stop their good girl. And I’m thinking about trying to get it back up to the midfielders,” said Noone. 

Quarterbacking the midfield, three-year varsity starter Guden’s stellar stick handling skills allowed Belmont to keep the pressure on Winchester’s midfield and backs.

“My game plan just get it in the [scoring] circle early, play as aggressive as I want to play, and look to pass it because it’s not a one-person game,” said Guden.

Junior Molly Calkins earned the solo shut out in her first varsity start as the Marauders’ goalkeeper.

“I was so nervous when [Smith] said I was going to start, I said ‘Oh no!’ But once we got onto the field, we all just worked together and communicated really well,” said Calkins who stopped four shots.

Smith and the team face a crowded week of games, four in five days, with an away game Tuesday at an excellent Lexington team the highlight. But for now, Smith is reluctant to change anything about the squad.

“We have this great lineup, the players work really well together, they’re confident and their speedy. That’s how we are going to approach every game, with confidence and speed,” she said.

With Wins, Belmont Girls Hoopsters Receive Media Attention, For Better Or Worse

Photo: Another day, another reporter – Boston Globe correspondent Tyler Blint-Welsh – wanting to talk to Belmont High senior captain Carly Christofori and freshman Maiya Bergdorf.

It was another victory for the Belmont High Girls’ Basketball team on Tuesday, Jan. 9, against an overpowered Winchester squad. 

And for the second consecutive game, a reporter from one of Boston’s daily newspapers was lurking after the game, wanting to speak to members of the “hot” new team on the scene.

Tuesday it was Boston Globe correspondent Tyler Blint-Welsh who asked to talk to senior captain Carly Christofori and leading scorer freshman Maiya Bergdorf, two of the standouts in the 69-21 victory over the Sachems. Last week, it was Boston Herald who came with a photographer and reporter, picking out players and coaches to speak. 

For Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart, the attention her team is receiving – and especially the recognition of the hard work put in by the upperclassmen – is well earned, having stepped up in the team’s first year playing in the top-level Division 1. At 6-1 (its lone loss to D1 powerhouse Newton South and its superstar Veronica Burton), the Marauders find themselves in the Top 10 in both daily papers girls’ basketball polls.

“I’m really proud that they are getting this attention,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart after the game.

“This is such a wonderful group; they put the time in the offseason and during the season. They have focused whether it’s in the games or at practices.”  

There indeed wasn’t this much attention towards the team since … well, probably ever. Despite an excellent run last season with one of the best shut down defenses in the state, the team earned a few throwaway articles even after going 16-4 and won the number one seed in the North Division 2 playoffs.

“It took us a while to be looked at, and when we did get the articles, we lost to Arlington Catholic [in the semifinals of the Division 2 North sectionals],” said Hart after Tuesday game. 

But with the newfound press coverage comes the expected blowback; teams and coaches now know who you are and will be itching to take down the upstart. 

“It’s nice to have the underdog mentality and not have a target on your back. But this is the way it goes when you have a string of successful seasons,” said Hart.

Hart said while the team has earned respect with all the hard work over the years, “now everyone’s looking for you, trying to topple one of the top 10 teams. No one is coming into a game with us and thinking that they are not up for the game,” she said.

“It is what it is, I can’t make them longshots. I can only tell the kids that we have to always work for everything and fight for everything because now people are gunning for us. And that will make having a successful season tougher to achieve,” Hart pointed out.

“We have a lot of good teams in the league: we were lucky to get out of our game with Woburn with a win, Lexington and Reading will be hard to break down, Melrose and Wakefield are strong and even Arlington on the nights they are on will be difficult to beat,” said Hart. 

Still, Hart likes the challenge before her as the team will soon reach the midpoint of the season. 

“I don’t underestimate what we can do in the league. We are a tough team for our opponents because they can’t focus on one player. We don’t pound it to our center every time we come down the court or try to isolate one shooter. We have so many good players; if we are egalitarian in our play, we will be successful.”

“We have our work cut out for us to live up to our reputation,” she said.

Not that Hart sees her team failing to meet the team’s goals.

“They’re kind as a group and great teammates, and that’s why their chemistry is so good. And now the whole program is built on their unselfishness and hard work.”