Scrappy Tie vs Woburn Leaves Belmont Boys’ Hockey Looking At Another Shared Championship

Photo: Belmont Matty Rowen scored Belmont’s first goal vs Woburn

Despite an undefeated Middlesex League season secured with a come-from-behind 2-2 tie against host Woburn, it currently appears Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey will be looking forward to sharing yet another title.

Unlike the 2019-2020 Div. 1, state crown shared with Walpole when all MIAA finals were abruptly canceled at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic shut down that March, the likely sharing of the Middlesex League Liberty title with Arlington is due to what happened on the ice as Belmont finished the final stretch of the league season with a win and two ties seeing a pair of points go wanting.

While Belmont does hold the advantage in head-to-head matches against the SpyPonders (a 2-2 tie at home and a 6-2 whitewashing in Arlington earlier in the week), Arlington is expected to win its final League contests against Winchester and Woburn to finish equal 24 points with the Marauders. It will be Belmont’s first title – albeit with the SpyPonders – since 2003-4 and its third crown in program history.

“We showed up obviously a little bit too late to the game today. We didn’t really didn’t get into it until the third period,” said first-year Head Coach Tim Foley, who praised the Tanners for working “from the opening face-off to the last whistle.”

On paper, it looked like a match the Marauders (13-1-2) could secure the title outright against Woburn sitting at the tail end of the division at 8-4-3 coming into the game. But the Tanners have played well this year, losing three of its games by a goal and rated 17th in the Division 1 power rankings (Belmont is ranked 7th.)

“But like all games in the Middlesex Liberty, it was going to be hard-fought and we didn’t expect anything less,” said As each team in the division are in the top 22 ranked squads in the MIAA power rankings.

After controlling the first four minutes and change, Belmont found itself trailing 1-0 as junior Jackson Powers snapped the puck just to the side of Belmont goalie Ryan Griffith coming against the run of play. Afterward, the Marauders found space along the boards but could not connect with anyone near the crease, The second period began brightly with junior phenom Cam Fici clanging a blast off the crossbar after five minutes and nearly connected a minute later on a power wrap around that brought oohs and aahs from the crowd.

It appeared it was just a matter of time before the Marauders would knot up the contest when during a rush-up ice Powers got his brace as he buried a sitter past with 3:07 left in the period. The last time Belmont has trailed by two this season was in its only loss to Wellesley.

“Today there was a similar vibe in the locker room as we had against Wellesley, we just didn’t have a game mentality,” said Foley. “Maybe they don’t like morning games.”

What Belmont needed was a lifeline which it received early in the third with a power play. With Fici and senior first line Shay Donahue causing chaos in the zone, linemate co-captain Matty Rowen settled on the doorstep of the goal where he reached out to grab a pass and slide the puck off the left post to cut the deficit to one with 11:58 left.

As Woburn turned most of its focus on defending its advantage, Belmont pressed in the Tanners zone to squeeze the defenders and cut off passing lanes. And it would be a breakout that gave Belmont its breakthrough as Fici proved, once again, the junior co-captain is an absolute sniper with the puck on his stick. Coming into the offensive zone cradling the puck with a defender screening him, Fici launched – with one skate on the ice the other two feet off the surface – off of a screamer from beyond the right circle that snuck between Ryder’s stick and right pad and into the net with 6:13 remaining. The goal was Fici’s 32nd of the season.

“Fici being Fici,” as Foley has stated in the past.

The remainder of the third and during the five minutes, four-on-four overtime saw each team played with an abundance of caution, so much so that in OT Woburn sat on the puck behind its goal for 30 seconds with no initiative to break out until Belmont sent a forechecker to entice the action.

With the game settled, Foley said a goal at the beginning of the season was to win the division outright. “But there is no shame in sharing this [with Arlington]. The seniors have a lot to be proud of. I think we are in a good place going into the tournament.”

Belmont will finish the season with the main event matchup as the Marauders host perennial powerhouse Catholic Memorial High from West Roxbury for a battle between top ten programs in the state. The game takes place at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, if the ballywire and gum holding the Skip together doesn’t come apart.

Minicozzis Lead Belmont’s Boys’, Girls’ Hoops In Wins Over Woburn

Photo: Belmont’s Nina Minicozzi scoring on a floater in the lane in action at Woburn.

Senior captain Jess Giorgio said the last time she beat a Woburn team in their home gym was as a member of an eighth-grade traveling team. For her first three years at Belmont High, no matter how well the teams she was on played, the Tanners always found a way to hand the Marauders a loss.

So it was no small issue that Giorgio and her fellow seniors wanted to leave Woburn for the final time with the W.

“For the seniors, tonight’s game was really special. We were really motivated to win,” she said of the front end of Friday’s double-bill with the Belmont Boys’ against Woburn.

And the Bowd0in-bound center would go out a winner as Giorgio and her teammates turned in a spectacular defensive performance against a physical Tanner team to prevail, 45-26, as the Marauders held the hosts to four points in both the first and third quarters.

Leading the way to the promise land for Belmont was one of its youngest varsity players as frosh standout Nina Minicozzi struck for 14 points and 6 rebounds.

“It was physical but I had my teammates who helped me get open and that’s why we won,” said Minicozzi.

In the late game of the doubleheader, Minicozzi’s brother Tim joined senior captain Danny Yardemian with 19 points as the Boys’ took the lead early against Woburn and steadily pulled away throughout the first half to build a 49-27 lead at the half to cruise to an 81-65 victory. 

Belmont Girls remain unbeaten at 11-0 (9-0 in the Middlesex League) while Woburn dips to 6-3 (6-3).

Having not won in Woburn for as long as most people could remember, Belmont Girls’ came into the game knowing to throw out the records against a Tanner team that had been holding opponents to 32 points per game. In the first two minutes, Woburn’s smothering defense inside clogged Belmont’s lane to the basket.

Woburn would score the first four points of the game on free throws in the first two and a half minutes. But the rest of the half was all Belmont as the Marauders would go on a 19-0 run as Woburn would not score a basket until 3:13 left in the second quarter. Sophomore forward Miaya Bergdorf’s 3 put Belmont on the scoreboard followed by one of two from the line by senior guard Megan Tan (9 points) and a sweet two off a spin move in the lane by Giorgio (8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks) who raced down the court to emphatically reject a shot. Tan would give Belmont an 8-4 lead at the end of one with two from the charity stripe. 

The second quarter was all Belmont as Minicozzi hit from downtown as Bergdorf (12 points) dominated the defensive board with 8 rebounds in the half. A Giorgio drive for two and Tan’s bucket stretched the lead to 19-4 before Woburn could respond against a pressing half-court defense that prevented the Tanners from a clean shot or an ability to drive to the hoop.

Sophomore Kiki Christofori presented the Tanners backcourt all sorts of trouble with a smothering presence as she and senior forward Ella Gagnon (2 points) both end up with three steals.

“When I [come onto the court] I want to make bringing up the ball a challenge. That’s a big part of my game,” said Christofori, as Belmont ended the half up 24-10.

Minicozzi started the third with a running scoop shot for a basket as a Tan jumper and Bergdorf’s second 3 put Belmont up 29-14 midway through the quarter. Woburn’s late run to cut the lead to 11 (31-20) was as close as the Tanners would come as Minicozzi’s second 3 and Tan’s 3 restored a solid advantage (37-20) with five to play. Belmont’s Gagnon hit the final basket for the night with less than two minutes to put an exclamation point on the victory. 

“[Belmont] played tough defense and rebounded really well against a team that makes you work for everything,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart after the game. “This was one of our more difficult games and we had to put things together a little bit more than with other teams we’ve played.”

For the Boys’, Friday was another classic example of transition basketball with Belmont capitalizing on their speed and killer shot selection to put the game out of reach for the Tanners early in the second quarter. Belmont hit five 3s in the opening frame with Yardemian and junior shooting guard Mac Annus (16 points) knocking down a pair each to open a 26-16 lead. Senior center Dan Seraderian (16 points) was able to roam under the basket ending up with 9 points (including a 3) in the second to join Yardemian (7 in the quarter) and sophomore Preston Jackson-Stevens (two 3s in the game) to extend the Marauders’ lead to 22 points at the half.

Belmont would put the game out of reach with a trio of 3s in the third from Jackson-Stevens, Seraderian and Minicozzi who has been increasingly becoming an important part of the team.

“My teammates really look for me tonight so I had some open 3s off of assists,” said Minicozzi. “The coaches are very supportive of me and my game and I’m getting more confident on the court.”

Girls Tourney Bound: Soccer, Field Hockey, Volleyball Earn Tickets To Postseason [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High Girls Soccer, pictured below are securing another trip to the Division 2 North playoffs.

It was quite a week for three of Belmont High girls’ fall season teams as each secured playoff spots in the coming state MIAA tournament.

Within a few minutes of each other on Monday, Oct. 8, Girls’ Soccer and Field Hockey punched their tickets to the postseason while Volleyball completed its task on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

After a pair of losses – a heartbreaker, 3-2, at Woburn after leading 2-0 at the half and a 4-0 rout at Winchester – left the team at 2-2-1 early in the season, Girls’ Soccer has rattled off five straight wins including a 3-1 home victory on Columbus Day to see its season extended. While not raking up the goals, the Marauders have been efficient in their games, using senior center forward Ella Gagnon as the cornerstone of the offense with speedsters senior Morgan Krauss and youngster Jenna Thomas (a pair of hat-tricks for the sophomore) creating opportunities on the wings. 

Since clinching the playoffs, Belmont took its revenge on Woburn, defeating the Tanners, 2-1, on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to extend its winning streak to seven and currently in second place in the Middlesex Liberty division with a 9-2-1 record. They will take on Lexington on Tuesday, Oct. 16 before meeting up with league leader Winchester at home on Thursday, Oct. 18.

Field Hockey came into its annual match with perennial Division 2 state champions Watertown on a seven-game winning streak. The night game on Oct. held at Belmont’s Harris Field saw the Marauders come out and controlled the match, dominating possession, especially in the second half, ending the game with 11 shots on goal and a 13 to 1 margin in penalty corners. The one area they didn’t hold an advantage over Watertown was on the scoreboard as the Raiders tallied on both of their two shots of the game in a two-minute stretch in the final five minutes of the first half, defeating the disappointed hosts, 2-0.

To make the playoffs, Belmont had to take a trip to an improving Wakefield High team and came away with a solid 2-0 win with senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere scoring both times to continue her hot stick at the inner forward position.

After reaching the playoffs, Belmont traveled Wednesday, Oct. 10 to the environs of Lexington to battle it out with a very good Minuteman squad. Starting at 6:30 p.m. (on a school night!) on a field – situated on the border of a mosquito-infested swamp – apparently illuminated by mood lights as no one could see the ball. In an evenly fought battle, Lexington took advantage of the not so common “man” advantage when the refs called Belmont’s junior Emma Donahue, the team’s top defender, for a push then sent off junior Katie Guden, the squad’s leader, for not respecting the five-meter space when the ball is restarted. And the Minutemen scored both times as Belmont’s best players were sitting by the scorer’s desk, winning 2-0, as the Marauders had to contend with the odd custom in Lexington of allowing dogs to wander along the sidelines.

Belmont, which defeated Woburn, 8-0, on Friday, Oct. 12 will have its rematch with Lexington on Wednesday, Oct. 17 with the winner in control to capture the Middlesex League Liberty title. This game played during the day, sans the threat of malaria and without mutts on the field. 

After just making the playoffs last year, Volleyball’s goal this year was a return act. And Belmont got there, but even faster than they thought, reaching its 10th win in just 12 games as the Marauders swept Wayland, 3-0, in an out-of-league match on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Led by kill specialist Jane Mahon (who is leading the Middlesex League) , and a pair of three year junior starters; setter Mindee Lai and libero Sophia Estok, Belmont was pushed in each of the three sets including having an 11-0 service run against them in the third to fall behind 21-20. But good digging and returning from the back line as well as a few unforced errors on the part of the Warriors allowed the Marauders to take the win.

After defeating Woburn on Friday, Oct. 12, Belmont, at 11-2,. will host Lexington on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

Perfect Start Has Belmont Volleyball In Lead In Middlesex League

Photo: Belmont Junior Libero Sophia Estok readies a serve vs. Woburn.

Four wins in as many matches to start the season has Belmont High Volleyball perched atop of the Middlesex League, reaching that height after defeating an always tough Woburn High squad last Friday, Sept. 14, at the Wenner Field House. 

It was a match to remember as the Marauders battled the Tanners in a closely contested five-setter, yet another close game in the history of the rivalry.

“After losing to them twice last season they were excited to take them on this season,” said Belmont Head Coach Jen Couture.  

The Marauders came out strong winning the first set 25-18, with a 10 point service run by senior Defensive Specialist Leah Babroudi and 4 solo blocks by senior Middle Hitter Audrey Quinn. 

Woburn made adjustments quickly and was able to take the second set 25-22, including an 8 point run of their own. 

In the third Belmont tightened the serves they received, never allowing Woburn’s servers more than 2 serves before siding out. Junior Libero Sophia Estok had an exceptional day passing and was 51 for 52 on serve receive, breaking her own single-match record.  Preventing the Tanners from long service runs allowed the Marauders to take third set 25-15. 

By the fourth set, Woburn’s middle hitters were in a groove, spiking and power tipping with dominance, often at junior setter Mindee Lai. Lai racked up 25 digs, the next closest being Babroudi with 13.  The Tanners took the set 25-19 – led by Woburn’s Tyliah Maldonado-Andre who ended the game with 21 kills – and it was on to the Marauders first fifth set of the season. 

After a quick side out, Lai extended Belmont’s lead to 3-0 before losing the serve. The Marauders managed to side out on the first serve for a full rotation, preventing Woburn from gaining momentum and slowly extended their lead.  Senior Outside Hitter Jane Mahon and junior Opposite Hitter Nena Trifunovic provided 10 and 6 kills respectively to finish off the Tanner. 

Mahon holds the career record for kills and is chasing the career blocks record.  While Jane is the most experienced hitter on the team, we still spread out our offense. 

While Couture points to Mahon – who holds the program’s career record for kills and is nearing the blocks record – as a team leader at the net, “we’ve never been a team who sets the same hitter every ball.  This year we have a lot of different types of hitters who can get the team kills.”

“Every game we begin with our cheer of ‘We play as a team. We win as a team’ and it’s never been more true, said Couture.

“We have the strongest setter and libero the team has ever had and that gives the team a solid foundation to build off of. Lai and Estok have been starters since their freshmen year when they began playing with senior captains Mahon and Babroudi,” said the Belmont coach. 

Having players that have already been through two full seasons together makes a huge difference, she noted. The majority of the starters from last year returned this year and have worked hard in the offseason.

“I think that’s the big reason we’re having such a strong start this year and I’m excited to see how far we can go,” she said.

Belmont Girls’ Hoops Crush Woburn in Semis, Playing North Final Saturday at 6 PM

Photo:

The latest edition of the Belmont vs Woburn girls basketball rivalry was less a grudge match – both teams winning at home during league play – than a straight up beat down as the Marauders thoroughly outplayed the number 1 seeded Tanners in the Division 1 North semifinals to walk off the court with a 58-47 victory on Thursday, March 8 at Burlington High School.

Belmont (19-3) will meet number 2 seed Central Catholic High School of Lawrence (21-2) in the North Sectional finals at 6 p.m. at Lowell’s Tsongas Arena after the Raiders defeated Lowell, 56-43, on Friday. 

Against Woburn, senior point guard Carly Christofori was her own highlight reel, barely missing a triple-double scoring 18 points (including four threes) to go along with 11 rebounds and 9 assists to quarterback the Marauders’ offense with the finesse of a veteran Middlesex League All-Star.  

“We played Woburn twice this year … and we end up [Middlesex League Liberty] co-champs. So when we heard we were playing them in the tournament, we were really excited for this game and pumped up because we knew we could compete against a bigger town and a big team like Woburn,” said the four-year starter who reaches her second North final on Saturday.

“Carly was immense, what can you say?” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. “Her shooting was so great, especially the threes. I don’t think she missed any tonight.”

While Belmont was impressive on the offensive side of the ball, it was the team’s half-court defensive scheme which was the game’s difference maker. After coming off an 83 point performance against Beverly, the Tanners found the Marauders’ match-up zone defense suffocating, allowing Woburn only single digits (5 in the first and 7 in the second) in the first two quarters.

“The kids were talking, moving and rebounding all night. Woburn didn’t have as good a shooting night as they sometimes have,” said Hart. “It was that our girls were right there all the time.”

Junior center Jess Giorgio gave Belmont a spark in the first quarter with four points in the paint, a pair of assists and a block in the first eight minutes.

“Before the game, the whole team was so excited to meet Woburn because we said the whole year that the real game was going to happen at the tournament,” said Giorgio.

Belmont blew the doors off the game in the second quarter. In the final 4:48, the Marauders outplayed the Tanners to the tune of a 16-2 run highlighted by a barrage of consecutive threes starting with senior Kylie Rhone, and followed by Christofori with the final two treys from junior guard Megan Tan (13 points to go with her 27 against Andover) the final bomb coming with 8 seconds remaining to give Belmont a 31-12 lead at the half.

If there is a bugaboo for Belmont teams in the past three playoff seasons, it’s been a tendency to come out flat in the third quarter and see a lead evaporate. But on Thursday, Belmont came out firing with Greta Propp powering for a layup for the first points in the half to push the lead up to 21, 33-12. For every Tanner basket, the Marauders had a response; Jenny Call hitting a three and Jane Mahon popping a mid-range jumper to keep the lead at 21, 38-17, midway through the quarter. A Christofori killer three off the dribble with 58.1 seconds remaining built Belmont’s lead to its largest margin of the game, 23 points (45-22) effectively putting the game in the Belmont win column.

The fourth quarter had a sense of inevitability of the outcome. Woburn would cut the lead to 13 – with the help of less than stellar free throw shooting by the Marauders which shot 6 for 20 from the charity stripe – and had a chance to bring it to 10 with 1:20 to go but missed free throws ended the mini-surge well short of troubling Hart or her team. When the buzzer sounded, Belmont took to the floor to celebrate. 

“We knew we could win and this just proves we belong in Division 1 with any team,” said Christofori. 

After Dominating Wins, Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Meet Woburn In Semis Doubleheader

Photo: Jake Pollack under the basket vs. Melrose.

The Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball teams are off to their North Sectional semifinals against Middlesex League rivals Woburn High on Thursday, March 8 after the both Marauder squads dominated their quarterfinals over the past weekend.

The doubleheader – the girls’ play at 5:30 p.m. and the boys’ at 7:30 p.m. at Burlington High School – was pushed back a day due to Wednesday’s pending Nor’easter. 

Tan’s career night leads Girls over last year’s champs Andover Saturday.

Just a little bit of self-confidence went a long way for Marauders’ junior guard Megan Tan on Saturday, March 3, against defending Division 1 North titleholders Andover High as Tan scored a career-high 27 points including three from beyond the arc as Belmont eased past the Golden Eagles, 68-46, in the Division 1 North sectional quarterfinals played in Belmont.

One would think that a three-year starter and mainstay of Belmont’s smothering defense would be at ease on the court. But Tan said this season she’s been struggling with mostly her shot selection.

“Throughout the year I’ve kinda struggled with my confidence. [Belmont Head] Coach (Melissa) Hart and I talked about it a lot. So today I had my head in the game,” said Tan after the game.

“I was playing like I wanted to play tonight and it worked out,” said Tan, who also contributed two assists and three steals for baskets resulting in six points.

But from Hart’s view, the victory was achieved by more than just giving the ball to Tan and watching her score.

“Everyone played really well. It wasn’t one of those one player games. It was a team win,” said Hart

Tan (a layup and the first of her threes) and Belmont got off to a quick start, up 7-0. Andover came back behind junior guard Gia Bramanti (6 in the quarter, 12 for the game), who at 6 feet towers over Tan who was covering her on defense, with the first quarter ending with the Marauders up two, 15-13 with Tan collecting 9 points in the stanza.

Up 18-16 early in the second, Belmont began grinding the game out, play by play, starting off with a trey from senior Jenny Call (6 points), the team’s career leader in threes. Junior Jane Mahon (6 points), Belmont’s sixth man, hit her trademark short jumper followed by workhorse senior forward Greta Propp’s layup (2 of her 10 points), Mahon again scoring in close with senior point guard Carly Christofori (6 points and a team-leading 6 rebounds) spinning in for two of her six points and suddenly Belmont was up 1o, 29-19, with 2:40 left in the half.

On the other end of the court, junior center Jess Giorgio (9 points) blocked a Bramanti runner while the team’s pressing pressure caused a traveling call on Andover on the next possession.

“Our defense frustrated them, and that was the real difference,” said Hart. Tan’s second three would give her 15 while the defense held the Golden Eagles to six in the quarter as the Marauders led at the break 34-19.

Belmont continued pressing its advantage in the second half as it steadily opened up an ever-increasing lead. The final quarter resembled a rec league game as the defense took a seat on the sidelines. 

As for meeting co-Middlesex League champs Woburn (19-2) for the third time this season – each team winning at home – “it will be a game of wills,” said Hart.

“It’s kind of nice to play them again because one of us can put this debate to rest. Hopefully, it’s us,” said Hart.

Slow start, fast finish as Boys’ dismantle Melrose

Trailing 11-0 to Middlesex League-rivals Melrose High after the first three minutes was not how Belmont High’s Head Coach Adam Pritchard was expecting from his team which just dismantled Charlestown High, 72-47, on Feb. 27. 

The Raiders arrived at the Wenner Field House looking for its second big playoff win after upsetting five-seed Masconomet earlier in the week and came out against the Marauders’ going right at the basket while deploying a 2-3 zone that cramped Belmont’s offense. 

But for Pritchard, the optimum word during the Raiders’ early run wasn’t “panic” but “patience.” 

“It was scary. They were really prepared to play, and we had to change things defensively to get it going. We took some chances, and it worked out,” said the longtime coach as his team proved their standing as the fourth seed by dispatching Melrose, 72-52, on Sunday night before the Academy Awards. 

A driving hoop by junior all-star Danny Yardemian put Belmont onto the scoreboard and senior forward Will Ellet first of five threes cut the lead to 11-5. 

While Yardemian and Ellet (each finishing with 17 points) were taking their game outside, the dirty work under the basket was assigned to senior center Jake Pollack that once again was looking up to a taller opposite center. Pollack’s presence came with a pair of offensive rebounds and a putback basket to tie the score at 13 with less than a minute remaining in the first. The quarter ended with Yardemian acting as a teacher, schooling the Melrose defender with a step back jumper to give Belmont its first lead of the game, 15-13. 

“We were resilient in the first quarter. A lot of teams can go down and get it into their heads. But we kept on going. We wouldn’t let the score take us from our game,” said Pritchard.

The second quarter was a back and forth affair knotted up at 20 with 4 minutes remaining as Belmont freshman Tim Minicozzi scored 5 of his 7 game points subbing for Yardemian who picked up his second foul early. Melrose took its final lead at 22-20 at 3:24 but it would be the Raiders’ highwater mark as Belmont’s pressure defense created a 10-second half court violation followed by yet another Ellet trey. As an explanation point, Ellet hustled down court to administer a monster block on an attempted layup which resulted in a 30-second violation.

With two minutes left in the quarter, Ellet’s fourth three of the half preceded Yardemian’s own three before the point guard spotted Pollack under the basket for a pair. Junior Ben Sseruwagi’s up and in (2 of his 8 points) and a Pollack block and rebound preserved a Marauders lead at the half, 33-26.

The third quarter is where the cream rose to the top as Belmont’s team defense and talent blew the game open as the Marauders outscored the Raiders’ 31-8 with Pollack battling for five of this 10 points before leaving the game due to a “turned ankle,” according to Pritchard.

“I had to hustle on both sides of the ball, get a defensive rebound than sprint down court and get an offensive rebound and put back. Every time, just outwork the other big guys,” said Pollack. 

By the fourth, both teams gave their reserves an opportunity to grab a few playoff minutes with Belmont using every one they could find on the bench.

For the second game running, Pritchard praised Pollack’s battling nature on the boards.

“We play a smaller lineup, and we have a kid who is going after rebounds, blocking shots and pressuring full court. He’s a special athlete. That motor is something,” Pritchard said.

Woburn (15-7) is a familiar opponent for Belmont (17-5) having beaten the Tanners both times they faced them this season. 

“I love [the Woburn coaching staff],” said Pritchard. “The coach is a good friend of mine, and the kids on both teams are very familiar with each other so it should be a heck of a game. It should be fun.” 

Last Second 3 Gives Woburn The ‘W’ Over Belmont Girls’ Hoops, 58-55; Boys’ Wallop Tanners

Photo: Belmont’s Meghan Tan scoring and being fouled in the game vs. Woburn. 

Woburn High senior forward Kelsey Qualey hit an uncontested three-point shot with eight seconds remaining to negate a final minute 10-0 run by Belmont High to beat the Marauders, 58-55, in a barnburner on Friday, Feb. 2 in Woburn.

Qualey’s trey, her only three of the game, came after Belmont rallied from a 55-45 deficit with 1:29 remaining in the fourth, as the Marauders’ senior co-captains Greta Propp and Jenny Call hit consecutive three-point baskets to knot the game at 55 with 36 seconds left in the half.

But when Woburn came down the court, Belmont’s defense “lost” Qualey as she drifted to the left of the basket and had a wide-open shot at the hoop that she calmly sank. A final second attempt by senior co-captain Carly Christofori – an underhanded left-hand prayer that hit nothing but net – was negated by a traveling violation.

“That was a huge shot because we wanted to get into overtime,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart after the game. 

“[Woburn]’s defense was fantastic and we didn’t move the ball like we should have. And they had a couple of players that had big games, they just hit more shots,” said Hart.

Belmont now sits at 11-2 with Woburn vaulting to 11-1, and into the lead for the top seed in the coming Divison 1 North sectional post season.

It’s appropriate the game was played in Woburn on Groundhog Day because as in the movie, Belmont relived the same heartbreaking outcome playing in “Wu-town” during the regular season or in the sectional playoffs.

“What are we now in Woburn? Like 0-8,” lamented Hart.

Friday’s game was filled with points streaks. Belmont opened the game on a 9-0 run – Christofori would score all 7 of her first-quarter points in the first 1:15 of the game to go along with a turnaround scoop shot from junior center Jess Giorgio – only to see Woburn storm back with its own 12-0 streak to eventually lead 15-13 at the end of the first eight minutes.

The second quarter was a tight affair when Christofori hit her second three in the half to cut the Tanner lead to two, 24-22, with 1:47 left. That’s when Woburn’s defense and three-point shooting hit its peak, creating four consecutive turnovers as senior Andrea Schiavone (12 points on four threes) and sophomore Ashlyn Pacheco – who played a tight man defense on Christofori – hit from long distance, outscoring Belmont 11-2 in the final 90 seconds to leave the court at the half up 35-24.

“We didn’t stop them when we needed to. If we would have gotten it under five with a few minutes left then it’s not a big mountain to climb. But we were down around 10 the entire second half,” said Hart. 

The third quarter saw Belmont only able to cut the lead to 7 points once (38-31) with Woburn playing a collapsing man-to-man defense, clogging the lane and using a phalanx of players to stifle Christofori’s playmaking as the Tanners kept its 11 point margin entering the final quarter.

The last eight minutes started smartly for Belmont as Giorgio – the Marauders’ player of the match working both boards and taking a leadership role on and off the court – and Jane Mahon hit baskets to cut the lead to six points (49-42) after a minute. But Pacheco would hit a basket falling to the court after being fouled to restore the lead to nine. While the Marauders were having trouble finding open shots, the Tanners were now finding themselves under pressure from Belmont’s press.

Belmont’s final run started with a Giorgio basket, followed by Christofori’s only two points in the half from a pair of free throws. On the subsequent Woburn inbounds, Giorgio forced a five-second violation that followed by Propps second three of the quarter, followed by a turnover which allowed Call – the Marauders’ career three-point leader – to make her second trey which silenced the Tanners’ cheering section as Belmont outscored Woburn 17-6 in the quarter. 

But a lack of defensive discipline with Woburn driving to the basket ended Belmont’s thrilling comeback and instead it was a return to Groundhog Day.

Boys’ Basketball Rein on Woburn

Belmont High Boys’ Hoops has found a way to beat playoff-bound Woburn: drain threes onto the Tanners.

On Friday, Feb. 2, the Marauders threw down a torrential downpour that swept aside Woburn High in a flash flood of treys as Belmont handed the 11-win Tanners a comprehensive drubbing, 85-57, in a game held at the Wenner Fieldhouse that was over at halftime.

With nine wins, Belmont is a victory away from making the Division 2 North. Woburn has dropped consecutive games (losing to Watertown on Tuesday) and stands at 11-4 as it heads to undefeated Arlington.

Belmont’s league MVP candidate Danny Yardemian led all scorers with 26 points as the Marauders completed the double against the Tanners beating Woburn last month 69-67.

Woburn guard Ryan Ludwig’s 10 points kept his team close at the end of the first, 23-17, the burgage began in earnest as Belmont put up 27 points in the second eight minutes. By the half, the led was 19, 50-31, with 30 points coming from distance with sophomore guard Mac Annus accounting for four threes from downtown. In the third, Belmont defense played its part holding the Tanners under 10 points to extend the lead to nearly 30, 70-39, entering the fourth quarter.

Sports: Girls’, Boys’ Hoops Take Measure of Tanners, Home and Away

Photo: Jenny Call (21) and Carly Christofori (12) turn on the ball during Belmont’s game with Woburn.

They weren’t games you’d write home about but two wins are two wins as both Belmont basketball teams took the measure of Woburn in a pair of important early-season contests.

Bench Comes Up Big In Belmont Girls’ Come-From-Behind Win

Jane Mahon wasn’t sure she’d be playing in Tuesday’s game against Middlesex League rival Woburn. The junior forward and the Marauders’ “sixth man” was ill with the stomach flu on Monday and didn’t practice.

“I’m not sure if I’m playing. I was really sick,” Mahon told the Belmontonian before the game.

It’s a good thing for Belmont that Mahon, junior center Ella Gagnon and freshman Maiya Bergdorf all came off the bench as the trio of non-starters sparked a second-half surge resulting in the Marauders taking the measure of the unbeaten Tanners, 43-38, at Belmont’s Wenner Fieldhouse.

“It wasn’t pretty but it was a win that showed a lot of grit from the team,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart who saw her team go to 5-1. Woburn is now 4-1.

After an even first quarter, 12-11 in Belmont’s favor, Woburn took advantage of Belmont’s team foul deficit – at one point the Marauders had been whistled for 7 fouls against a single infraction for the Tanners – to go perfect (6 for 6, four from junior Julia Taylor) from the charity stripe while Woburn’s leader Andrea Schiavone (11 points) hit a 3 and a layup to propel the visitors to a 24-19 lead into the half. 

Trailing midway through the third quarter, Belmont’s comeback began with a Bergdorf three-pointer – the first of two 3s on the night – followed by a pair of mid-range jumpers from Mahon which cut an eight-point deficit to one, 28-27, with a minute and a half remaining.

“Woburn was very aggressive and always on us very tight. So when a teammate was driving to the basket I was always there to take a pass and that allowed me to have open shots,” said Mahon, who finished with 7 points, a block and a steal.

Mahon has been contributing on both ends of the court, said Hart, “with the intensity and work ethic she brings.”                                                                             

Early in the fourth quarter, Bergdorf hit her second 3 with 6 minutes remaining in the fourth to give the Marauders the lead for good at 31-30, followed by a drive to the basket to increase the lead to 35-32. Belmont was up by five points as junior 2-guard Meghan Tan (5 points who played the entire 32 minutes for the second consecutive game) hit a layup with one second on the shot clock to make the score 37-33 with 1:50 left in the game.

Bergdorf finished the night hitting two clutch free throws – Belmont was a less than stellar, 8-17, from the line – in the final minute to seal the victory and give her a game-high 12 points. 

“I just wanted to go out there, just give it my all and prove that I can play with [my teammates],” said Bergdorf.

Hart said Bergdorf has been able to feel comfortable on the team due to the support of the juniors and seniors such as captains Jenny Call (3 points), Greta Propp (6 points) and captain Carly Christofori (8 points).  

“She brings a skill set that is pretty special,” said Hart.

While not in the scorebook, Hart praised Gagnon’s overall physicality in relief of junior center Jess Giorgio (2 points), clogging the passing lanes and being a presence under the basket. 

“[Gagnon] was awesome tonight. She was a real difference maker tonight on defense,” said Hart, noting the team held a good attack offense to six points in the third and eight in the fourth quarters.

Six games into the season, Hart said she “likes where we are going, heartened by the fact that we haven’t played our best yet. Woburn will be tough when we go there (in February) but I expect us to be sharper by then.”

Boys’ edge Woburn 

Just how poorly was Belmont High’s Boys’ basketball team was playing defense in the first half against host Woburn on Tuesday, Jan. 2? Head Coach Adam Pritchard gave up yelling at his squad. 

“I ended the game with my voice intact,” said Pritchard, who said in the first quarter, the team “couldn’t guard a tree” giving up 24 points and trailing by 9. 

In the second, the Marauders “were slightly better shooting” scoring 21 points while holding the suddenly cooled down Tanners to 15 to creep back into the game by the half, trailing 39-36. All-star shooting guard Danny Yardemian (a team-high 22 points) led the Marauders with 7 in each of the opening two stanzas. 

After intermission, Belmont seemingly abandoned anything within the three-point arc and like Steph Curry, shot lights out from distance, knocking down six treys and nothing else, propelling them into the lead after three, 54-48, with sophomore point guard Mac Annus (15 points) and senior forward Will Ellet (16 points) each burying a pair. 

Woburn attempted to steal the lead back but senior forward Jake Pollock (6 points) stepped up defensively by taking a pair of charges that gave Belmont possession during critical times in the quarter to give Belmont the win, 69-67, with the Marauders ending the game with 11 3s. Belmont and Woburn are 4-2, second in the Middlesex Liberty Division trailing only Arlington.

“We beat a very good team and these are the type of games that we just battle back to win,” said Pritchard. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birthday Girl Allard Gifts Belmont 1-0 Payback Win Over Woburn

Photo: Belmont’s Cary Allard (right) celebrating her goal as Woburn goalkeeper Kelsey Qualey (right) looking on.

The adage goes it’s better to give than receive. And Belmont High Girls’ Soccer senior co-captain Cary Allard who turned 18 Saturday, Oct. 14, decided to give her teammates a gift to celebrate her birthday: a game-winning goal.

Allard’s strike midway through first half was enough to give the Belmont (11-1-0) a 1-0 shutout victory over a physical Woburn (12-2-0) squad in a Saturday afternoon matinee to avenge a 1-0 defeat the Tanners put on a then-undefeated Marauders Thursday, Oct. 12.

“I don’t think you’ll see us play much better than this especially passing,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach Paul Graham.

Belmont’s goal was the result of a build up from the midfield with Allard picking up a through pass from sophomore midfielder Marina Karalis splitting a pair of defenders and tipping a right footed shot by Thursday’s hero Woburn goalkeeper Kelsey Qualey at the 20-minute mark. 

Belmont held the front foot for most of the first half with twice as many shots on goal, 4-2, during the first half hour. Woburn took advantage of its quickness to increase its presence in Belmont’s defensive end in the final 10 minutes with Belmont goalkeeper junior Chloe Tingos making a difficult save facing away from the field with five minutes remaining in the first half.

The second 40 minutes was a rough and tumble affair with plenty of whistles and players on the field with a Belmont player earning a yellow card. Belmont found room down the wings with Courtney Gray working with Allard on the left. The Marauders also found success in the middle with junior center forward Ella Gagnon and senior center midfielder and co-captain Emma Sass forcing the Tanners to keep players in their defensive end.

“We were using a lot of one-touch passes to beat their speed, and that allowed us to control the game,” said Graham.

With time running out in the game, Woburn stepped up its push towards Belmont’s end which kept Mauraders’ defenders juniors Emily Dexter and Megan Tan and senior co-captain Natalie Marcus-Bauer busy. Tan was specifically active on the left side using her pace to win the majority of 50/50 challenges. 

Woburn had one final push in the last five minutes as sophomore Ashlyn Pacheco – who scored the Tanners ‘ goal on Thursday – came close to earning the tie just pushing a free header by the right post. 

“We had several players come off the bench,” said Graham. “[Senior forward Emily] Duffy played, [senior forward] Eliza [Filler] did a great job as did [junior forword] Drew [Bates]. They didn’t play 40 minutes, but when they came in, they did their jobs.” 

The victory gives Belmont a slim lead in the three-team race for the Middlesex League Liberty title with the Marauders facing a rematch with Winchester (10-1-2) away on Thursday, Oct. 19.