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.