Photo: Belmont’s Alec Moran (6) stopped by Reading’s Matt Coughlin on Saturday’s game.
After an inspiring 4-3 victory over perennial powerhouse Winchester midweek, Belmont High hockey was anxious to meet another tough Middlesex League opponent in Reading Memorial High which came to the “Skip” for a Saturday afternoon matinee looking up at the Marauders in the league standings.
But the intensity and breaks came from the Rockets bench – which included seven coaches – as Reading handed Belmont its second loss of the season with a 4-1 victory on Jan. 13.
Reading produced the most chances through the game with Belmont goalie Kevin Dacey required to make a series of difficult saves throughout the game while the Marauders offense which has been led by senior winger Steve Rizzuto – who scored his third hattrick of the season against Winchester – was stifled by Reading’s Matt Coughlin in net with 21 saves and a crew of big and mobile defenders.
Reading dictated the game’s pace and direction scoring early through junior forward Mike Tobin (who is a verbal commit in lacrosse to UMass-Amherst) just a minute in. Belmont came close to knotting the game from its top line of Connor Dacey, Will Dominiconi and Rizzuto who kept Coughlin busy.
The Rockets (7-2) doubled its lead even earlier in the second period than the first, after only 45 seconds with Tobin earning the brace from an excellent pass from Jake Emery. With less than five minutes remaining in the second Reading broke through again, with senior Dan Cranitch beating Dacey on a rising wrist shot glove side.
Belmont’s best chances came down three as the Marauders dominated the remainder of the period but did not have anything to show for it at the end of two.
An up and down third culminated in an open net by Matt Florenza with 20 seconds left. Belmont did spoil Coughlin’s away shutout as Tim Bailey took a Dennis Crowley pass and beat the goalie just before the buzzer. After some debate, the goal was allowed for the 4-1 final.
Belmont is 5-2-3 entering its Martin Luther King Day match with Catholic Memorial. (Late edit: Belmont earns a hard-earned tie with CM with a goal from, who else, Steve Rizzuto.)
Girls perfect 2017 leads to imperfect 2018
Belmont High Girls Hockey was on fire in the first part of the season, specifically in 2017 when it rushed off to a 6-0-0 record with a high powered scoring offense, averaging four goals a game, with a bend but not break defense.
But when the calendar changed to 2018, what was ablaze was extinguished as the Marauders are 0-4 for ’18. While some of the reason is the top quality match-ups – including meeting the defending state champions and the top-ranked team this season – two defeats came on consecutive Saturdays where Belmont could not hold onto late leads away from home.
Not that Belmont has lost its scoring touch as the team is averaging three goals per game, but rather it would appear to be an inability to sustain a team confidence it held earlier in games.
Belmont did perform well against both Woburn (’17 state champs) and Winchester (a top 5 team the entire season) losing 4-2 and 5-3. What has been troubling has been the Saturday Night Falls. Against Lexington, the team let go of a two-goal lead in its 4-3 loss. This past Saturday, Belmont arrived at the Burbank Ice Rink to meet a Rocket team that was on its own three-game losing streak. After a first period knotted at one, Belmont scored twice to lead 3-1 at the end of the second period.
But as with its game against the Minutemen, Belmont saw the Rockets dominate the third, scoring four unanswered goals to fall 5-3 and see its record dip to 6-4-0. Belmont will be away from “The Skip” until next month, Feb. 4, when they host Newton South.