Photo: Senior Katie Guden on the move vs. Winchester.
The Belmont High School Field Hockey squad will be looking skyward during the upcoming playoffs, not so much for heavenly intervention than looking for dark clouds.
Ranked 4th in the Division 1 North Sectionals, the Marauders – which finished the season at 13-2-1 – will host the 13th seed Scarlet Knights from North Andover (8-4-5) in an opening round match to be played on Harris Field on Wednesday, Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m.
While a much lower seed, North Andover plays in the competitive Merrimack Valley Large conference and have been on a roll, having not lost since Oct. 2.
As for the weather, the Marauders have discovered a drenching rain and its style of play is like mixing water and oil. Belmont’s two losses, against top-ranked Watertown (3-1) and Lexington (2-1), occurred during downpours when the Marauders’ strong defense and pass oriented offense were damped down by the wet weather. It didn’t help that the Marauders missed open chances in both games while in each match senior co-capt. Emma Donough hit the post on penalty corners.
“It really puts off our game,” said Belmont Head Coach Jess Smith, who has led the Marauders into the playoff for the seventh consecutive season and 13 out of the past 14 years.
So it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Belmont’s Senior Night game vs. Arlington on Oct. in a driving rain would be a close one. Despite defeating the SpyPonders 3-0 earlier in the year, Arlington have improved as the season has gone by securing its first playoff appearance since 2013 and coming into the game at 9-5-0.
While Belmont had only given up nine goals for the season, Arlington got on the front foot with three goals off break outs to lead Belmont, 3-2, at the half. But an early goal by sophomore attack Mia Meyers got the game level and Belmont would go ahead 4-2 by senior midfield co-captain Katie Guden on a scramble in the middle on a delayed call. Junior Goalie Kendall Whalen kept the Marauders in the lead on an outstanding boot save that landed into her pads before being swept away. Belmont finished the scoring with a tip by junior attack Emma O’Donovan off a blast from Donahue on the penalty corner after time had expired.
“This is a game that we needed. We didn’t panic when we were behind at the break and then took the play to Arlington,” said Smith.
After the Lexington loss, Belmont bounced back vs Winchester in a holiday matinee Oct. 14. In the bright sunshine, Belmont’s defense was stellar led by co-capt. defender Meaghan Noone who ran down and beat back countless chances. The Marauders scored early, the first from Donahue sending a rocket into the net from just inside the shooting circle off the penalty corner eight minutes into the game with the second coming three minutes later from O’Donovan
At 13-2-1, Belmont goes into the playoffs with its second best record in program history (the third time they held this mark) and a home playoff game in the bag and another if they win the opener. But there is still work to be done, according to Smith.
“I think we let our guard down a little bit when we’re ahead in games. I think we’ve been watching the ball a little bit too much and not really marking the kids down low and some easy goals are going in,” said Smith.