Belmont High School Field Hockey Head Coach Jessica Smith said she preferred to play a strong team to begin the season “as a way to know early where we stand.”
On Friday, Sept. 7, on one of the hottest days of the summer, you couldn’t select a tougher challenge: playing the four-time consecutive state champions, Watertown High School, at their home ground at Victory Field.
(Oh, by the way, Watertown hasn’t lost a game in the past four years.)
And while Belmont kept the game close for three-quarters of the game, three goals – including a penalty shot – in the final 16 minutes resulted in a 4-0 loss giving the Belmont squad an outstanding team to compare to during the season.
“Now I see what we need to work on,” said Smith after the game.
Despite the score, Smith was encouraged with the team’s play and growing composure against the Red Raiders playing on an artificial field where the temperature reached three digits.
“Coming into the game, I thought we could look like cones on the field, but we didn’t. We were a true opponent. We made them play hard,” said Smith.
“We are great at making the transition from defense to midfield but when it goes to the offense, we slam on the brakes,” due to a very young offensive line, said Smith, who is entering her 11th year leading the Marauders
“Coming into your first game against Watertown is tough, they had to be a little shocked as they do a lot more in practice. But they held it together well,” she said.
The most dominate player on the hot turf Friday afternoon was Belmont’s sophomore leader Annemarie Habelow, who moved from her familiar role in the attack – she led Belmont in scoring last year in her freshman campaign – to the center back position. Her dominate stick skills deadened Watertown’s attack in the middle of the field, forcing it to play the wings that Belmont mostly contained by sending multiple players on the Red Raiders attackers.
“She is by far the most poised player on the field today. She has such a set of free hits, she conceptionally knows where to put the ball, and she’s a great leader,” said Smith.
As for the remainder of the season – the first with Belmont in Division 1 – Smith believes her team will grow as a team through the season, especially upfront.
“Let’s hope [Watertown] is the toughest team we meet this year. We are meeting teams in the next weeks that haven’t had great records recently so it will be a great chance to practice things,” said Smith, who took her team to the playoffs last year.