Inaugural Lacrosse Night In Belmont Set For Saturday, May 14

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Belmont High School’s Girls and Boys teams will be hosting the first-ever Lacrosse Night in Belmont on Saturday, May 14 as the Marauders play host to the SpyPonders from Arlington High School. 

The boys’ varsity game will be begin at 4 p.m. and the girls will be facing off at 6 p.m. The night will include “some light pomp and circumstance,” according to Josh Streit, Head Coach of the Belmont Boys’ Varsity, which will involve youngsters from Belmont Youth Lacrosse.

COVID Ends Belmont Boys Hockey’s Chance To Be Solo Champions For A Second Time In A Year

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For the second time in less than a year, the Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey team saw its chances of playing in a championship game cancelled as the Marauders’ Saturday, Jan. 20, match with Winchester in the first-ever Middlesex League tournament was scraped Friday night due to COVID-19 protocols.

The Middlesex League has declared the teams co-titlists.

In March 2020, the finals of the MIAA Division 1 state tournament between Belmont and Walpole was postponed when the first surge of the coronavirus spread across the country and the teams were declared state co-champions.

The abrupt end of the season, and also the careers of one of the most winningest senior classes, came after Belmont earned a place in the finals with a pair of nail biting tournament games in which the Marauders won both matches in extra time.

After dispatching Wakefield with 3.2 seconds left in a 3-on-3 overtime session Wednesday, the Marauders came back the next day to prevail, 2-1, in a shootout over league powerhouse Arlington.

Belmont came into the game having twice been shut out by the SpyPonders in the previous week, giving up nine goals in the two matches. Despite Arlington’s advantage on offense in setting the tempo and scoring chances, the Marauders had an answer in the guise of sophomore goaltender Ryan Griffin and senior captain Tom Grace who lead the defense.

When the Belmont coaching staff selected the three players to take the sudden death penalty shots, they needed to only look to the Fici brothers – senior captain Ben Fici and sophomore standout Cam – to seal the deal.

After Arlington’s Jack Sadowski scored first in the second round of shots, Ben Fici threw off Arlington goalie Jack Davies with a quick move to his right and roofed a backhand by the sophomore netminder to tie the shootout at one.

It was now Griffins time to shine as he blocked Reid Malatesta’s attempted to go between the pads. With the game on the line, Cam Fici took it in close and shoved a shot through Davies’ pads to hit the side netting for the winning goal.

Belmont finished the shortened season with a record of 7-3-1.

Soccer Night In Belmont Returns Nov 7, Nov 11

Photo: Belmont girls in action

The Belmont High School Girls’ and Boys’ Varsity soccer teams will headline the 5th annual Soccer Night in Belmont matches on Saturday, Nov. 7 (Girls’) and Wednesday, Nov. 11 (Boys’), both games vs. Arlington High. A modified version event is planned this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the teams will still vie for the Phoenix Cup and the honor of having their team’s name engraved on it.

Normally, the varsity players are joined at the event by hundreds of younger players from the Belmont Soccer Association, their coaches, and thousands of other members of the Belmont soccer community.  This year, fans will not be permitted to enter Harris Field, but the community can watch live thanks to the Belmont Media Center on one of these Comcast channels: 8, 9, or 96 or Verizon channels: 28, 29, 30 or 2130. In addition, you can watch the live stream via www.belmontmedia.org.

The girls will take to the Harris Field to take on the Spy Ponders Saturday afternoon, Nov. 7 at 4 .p.m. The boys will face their Middlesex League rivals at 9 a.m. on Veterans Day, Wednesday, Nov. 11.

“This event showcases our varsity teams and recognizes the role of Belmont Youth Soccer in nurturing the talent that makes up these teams year in and year out,” said event organizer and founder John Carson. “Despite the pandemic, we can all tune in to support our varsity teams on live television.”

In addition to the trophy, the Players of the Match will be awarded following each game, with each player receiving a new pair of cleats thanks to Puma, a longtime Soccer Night in Belmont supporter.

Soccer Night in Belmont is sponsored by the Belmont Soccer Association, Belmont Boosters, Parents of Music Students (POMS), Phoenix Landing, and Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS), with special thanks Belmont High Athletic Director Jim Davis.

Marauders, SpyPonders Draw Blanks In Girls Hockey Showdown

Photo: Belmont’s Bridget Gray makes the save early in the first period.

An anticipated barnburner between a pair of red hot teams never materialized as stone cold defense stole the show between Arlington and host Belmont as the Middlesex Liberty rivals skated to a joint shutout, 0-0, at the Skip Wednesday, Jan. 15.

The tie hampers both squads attempts to stay close to league leader Woburn (7-1-1) which beat Belmont, 5-2, but lost to Arlington, 5-1.

In a game which Arlington (5-1-2) held the upper hand for most of the 45 minutes, the highlights came from the top defensive pairings from both teams while each goaltender did what was required to come off the ice with a clean sheet.

The SpyPonders first D-line of junior Shea O’Day and first year Cailyn Murphy were especially solid tracking down Belmont’s top scorers – senior Katie Goden, junior Emma O’Donovan and first year Lilly Duffy – and limiting the offense to single shots on goal. Belmont’s seniors Meaghan Noone and Jenna Crowley produced more of an attacking punch for the Marauders (7-1-2).

The SpyPonders had the advantage of goal scoring chances including a pair of near breakaways (from first year players Molly Conneely and Madeline Krepelka) in the first six minutes of the game. But each one was stifled by Belmont’s goalie Bridget Gray, the first year standout in the league who earned her sixth overall and third consecutive shut out to lower her goal-against average to an eye popping 0.85.

Offensively, Arlington was happy to keep the puck on the boards before breaking out as it relied on its physical playing style. Belmont leaned on its quickness to attack on the counter and pounce on the odd SpyPonder miscue.

While Arlington’s sophomore tender Elise Rodd was troubled by a handful of shots – Belmont’s best chance came from senior Kara Rowan from the slot that flew by the left post in the second period – Gray faced 35 in which several required a quick glove hand including several sprawling pad saves early and late in the third.

Belmont welcomes Watertown on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 1 p.m.

Finals Bound: Belmont Boys Rewrite Record Book In Playoff Wins Over Gloucester, Arlington

By: Junior Mac Annus who now holds the Belmont High record for 3 point baskets in a game with 12. Photo by David Johnedis

The Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball squad rewrote the records book in two playoff wins that propelled them to the Division 2 North sectional finals this Saturday, March 9 at UMass Lowell’s Tsongas Center against defending champions North Andover.

Annus smash 3s game record in semis victory over Gloucester

There is a Baker’s dozen and after Tuesday’s semifinal vs Gloucester High, there’s a Belmont dozen as junior shooting guard Mac Annus shattered the previous program record of nine three-point baskets with an eye-popping 12 to catapult the number 1 seed Marauders’ to a 79-59 victory over the visiting Fishermen in the D2 North semis played before a packed Coach Lyons’ Court at Belmont High.

“I walk through the hallway [leading into the gym] and look at the [list of records] every day and I finally broke it,” said Annus after the game in which he scored 38 points on 12 for 14 from beyond the arc. “I was feeling confident and my teammates were finding me,” he said noting the record was “extra special” as it came in a playoff semifinal.

“[Annus] is certainly a big weapon for us to have and [breaking the record] wasn’t outside of what he can do,” said Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard. “I’ve seen [Annus] hit 15 in a row in practice so I 

And Belmont (23-2) would need the guard’s dead-eye accuracy as the fifth-seed Fishermen (16-7) nearly ran the Marauders off the court in a frantic first quarter. Using an upbeat offensive tempo to break Belmont’s full court press and strength under the hoop (three blocks in the quarter, two by center Marcus Montagnino who scored 19 points), the Fishermen literally raced by the Marauders to build a 17-6 lead after four minutes in the quarter.

That’s when Annus began his night, hitting consecutive treys to cut the lead to 17-12. Dueling threes from Belmont’s sophomore Tim Minicozzi and Gloucester’s Oliver (7 3s, 27 points) would see the quarter ended with the Fishermen out front 24-17.

Belmont came out of the gate fast as senior captain Danny Yardemian (18 points) slicing to the basket for two which set the stage for Annus to drop the anvil on a slowing Gloucester as the three-year varsity player drained three consecutive treys – each in front of a boisterous Gloucester student section – from beyond the arc to give Belmont the lead at 29-28.

A steal and bucket from Yardemian was countered by a two from Oliver (who ended the night and his high school career reportedly with 996 career points) to tie the contest at 31 but Annus’ fourth three of the quarter at 2:48 gave the Marauders the lead, 34-31, they would keep for the remainder of the contest, as they went into the half leading 40-31. It was a quarter where Belmont’s half-court defense and stellar play on the wings limited Gloucester to 7 points in eight minutes.

See Annus interviewed at courtside after the game here: https://www.pscp.tv/belmontonian/1BdGYOnyWjgxX 

The third quarter saw Belmont’s defense make life difficult for Gloucester’s once unstoppable offense, upping the lead to 13, 48-33, before ending the third leading 56-43. 

With the game down to its final eight minutes, Gloucester attempted a final comeback cutting the lead to 10, 56-46, through a hoop and one from senior Kenneth Turner only to see Annus tie the school’s 3s record a minute and 10 seconds into the fourth to increase the lead to 13. Shortly afterward, the junior would put an exclamation point on his night with three more from long distances (Annus was 12 of 14 from beyond 19’9″) to seal the victory, secure the record and have the large Belmont student section chant “MVP!”

Calling Annus “the best shooter I’ve ever coached” in 19 years at Belmont’s helm, Pritchard credited the unselfish work by his teammates for both locating Annus in space and setting picks to free him for his shots. 

Belmont returns to the Divison 2 North finals for the first time in a decade – the nine-seeded Marauders were defeated by Woburn, 48-45 in 2009 – as they take on defending North champions, North Andover, on Saturday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell.

Yardemian Secures Career Scoring Crown Leading Marauders Over Arlington

Belmont’s senior captain Danny Yardemian had just broken the career points record of Steven Kearns on Friday, March 1 which would usually cause the game to be halted for the new titlist to receive the game ball and lots of cheers.

But Yardemian was too busy at that moment; other than a quick arms pump, the Marauders’ leader played on as he was in the midst of turning the Division 2 North Sectional playoff game vs. Middlesex League rivals Arlington on its head. Having trailed by as many as 13 in the first half and behind by five, 46-41, late in the third, Yardemian (30 points) was in the midst of scoring six consecutive baskets in the matter of 2 minutes and 16 seconds including a floater at the buzzer to give Belmont a three-point advantage, 53-50, entering the fourth quarter at an overflowing Coach Lyons’ Court in Belmont.

Wow.

And with the help of a killer three-pointer from sophomore Tim Minicozzi to give Belmont a 58-53 lead, a critical block by senior center and co-captain Jake Herlihy with Belmont hanging onto a 59-56 advantage and a quartet of free throws – including two via a technical – by junior Mac Annus (21 points), the Marauders were able to power by the SpyPonders in an instant classic, 71-67, to advance to the semifinals vs. Gloucester. 

“It was a really hard fought game against a team that is really well coached,” said Yardemian after the battle on the court. “People were saying that they were the eight seed … they came to play and it was a great game.”

Not that it was a perfect game for the captain against the SpyPonders as the teams met for the third time this season. Yardemian – who coincidently broke the 1,000 point mark against Arlington earlier in the year – went a Chamberlain-esque 9 for 18 from the charity stripe.

“I was leaving them short [early] then it was mental,” he said.

As for his second record-breaking scoring performance this season – the senior guard now holds the single-game mark with 46 points against Lexington in December – Yardemian said the achievement is “really humbling” as his name now joins the other 1,000 point Marauders on the Field House wall. 

Yardemian Breaks 1,000 Point Mark In Win Over Arlington; Girls’ Stay Unbeaten

Photo: Danny Yardemian with his folks after scoring his 1,000’s point.

It wasn’t if but when Danny Yardemian would break the 1,000 point barrier against Arlington Friday night, Jan. 11.

And the 1,000th and 1,001st points came on a layup just before the half time buzzer blared as Yardemian capped off an 18 point first half against the SpyPonders.

But any hoopla for reaching that career highlight would wait for the end of the matchup.

“Let’s celebrate a little now but let’s get back into the game,” the senior guard and captain told his teammates before heading to the lockers.

By the finish, Yardemian put up 27 points as Belmont prevailed, 77-54, in a relatively dominant team performance against the back-to-back Middlesex Liberty Division champions which usually had the best of Belmont over the past four seasons.

While the countdown on Yardemian’s 1,000th point breakthrough was one everyone’s mind in the Wenner, about the game, Belmont resembled a sprint squad at a track meet as Head Coach Adam Pritchard has the Marauders’ running, running and running some more, creating a myriad of scoring opportunities resulting in the Marauders’ putting up a gaudy 73 points per game. And putting the pedal to the metal is how Belmont shot off to a 16-9 lead after one with Yardemian leading the way with 6 points followed by 3s from junior Mac Annus (20 points) and sophomore Tim Minicozzi (14 points).

Belmont upped the lead to 35-22 by the half as Yardemian hit a pair of 3s and scored his 11th and 12th points of the second quarter on a layup from co-captain senior guard Ben Sseruwagi as time expired.

Arlington would cut the lead to 10 early in the third quarter before Annus scored 11 points of his 14 in the third on a two minute personal run to secure the win. 

After the game – and before the celebratory cake was presented with his accomplishment in icing – Yardemian thanked his teammates over the past four years “who set up plays that allowed me to score. It’s a team sport and I couldn’t do it without these 13 other guys. They’re all special.”

“It’s been a really special year for me,” said the Bentley-bound all purpose guard, having set the team’s single game scoring record at 46 points earlier in the season against Lexington. “It means a lot to get those records and have an individual banner. They all were goals I had for myself but we have bigger things to accomplish along the way.”

Belmont ups its record to 9-1 after defeating the SpyPonder and Melrose on Tuesday, coming off Sunday’s first loss of the season against Algonquin Regional in a “Heritage” game held at the TD Garden in Boston. (While counted as a defeat on its record, the Heritage game is not counted when determining the team’s seed in the MIAA postseason tournament.)

Girls’ Remain Undefeated 

It’s been a wild week for the undefeated Belmont High Girls’ Hoops squad, defeating a pair of one-loss teams, Reading and Melrose, before hosting Arlington High in the early game of the twin bill at the Wenner Field House. While its record is just north of .500, this edition of the SpyPonders are young – the varsity is made up of two seniors and nine sophomores (four youngsters are starters) – and more than happy to play a little rough and tumble. (Watch out for this team in two years time.)

While the visitors stuck around early, Belmont’s hallmark aggressive half-court zone defense and points under the basket settled the outcome of the game by the half as the Marauders remain unbeaten with a 48-30 win. Belmont is currently 9-0 (7-0 in league play) and ranked in the top five of both the Boston Globe and Herald Top 20 High School polls. 

Up five after the first quarter, 15-10, Belmont upped its defensive stance on the young challengers entering the second. And what a difference for Belmont as the SpyPonders could not stop the Marauders’ speed (Belmont had 13 steals in the game) or contend with the host’s considerable height advantage under the glass (6 blocks and 9 offensive rebounds for the team) as the ‘Ponders registered a goose egg over the eight minutes as Belmont took a 20 point cushion (30-10) into the half behind the starting backcourt pairing of senior Megan Tan (6 points in the first half) and freshman Nina Minicozzi (eight in the first) as both finished with 10 points. 

“We got a lot of offense from our guards because they were just quicker on both ends of the court,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. 

“We passed the ball around really well and that got everyone open at some point,” said sophomore Miaya Bergdorf who was top scorer with 15 points including three 3s.

While the lead hovered around 2o for the second half, Arlington was unafraid to bang with the Marauders with each loose ball ending up with bodies lying on the deck. 

“They were physical but that really didn’t bother us because [our forwards] are pretty tall and they still were able to get the rebounds,” said Bergdorf, referring to seniors Jess Giorgio, Jane Mahon, Ella Gagnon and sophomore center Emma McDevitt who came off the bench to score 5 points and secure a game-high six rebounds, half off the offensive boards.

Third Soccer Night In Belmont Set for Harris Field, Saturday, Sept 29

Photo: The procession to the field

The Belmont High School Boys and Girls Varsity soccer teams will headline the third annual Soccer Night in Belmont on Saturday, September 29, joined at the event by hundreds of younger players from Belmont 2nd Soccer and the Belmont Soccer Association, their coaches, and other members of the Belmont soccer community.

Soccer Night in Belmont will feature a doubleheader under the lights at Harris Field against Middlesex League rivals Arlington: a Boys’ game at 4:30 p.m. followed by a Girls’ game at 6:30 p.m. 

Belmont youth soccer players will participate by parading out with players during the pre-game ceremonies, acting as ball-boys and ball-girls, and competing in mini-games on Harris Field during halftime of both games. Arlington Soccer Club youth soccer players will also participate in the pre-game ceremonies and other activities.

“This event showcases our varsity teams and recognizes the role of Belmont 2nd Soccer and BSA in nurturing the talent that makes up these teams year in and year out,” said event organizer John Carson. 

“We hope to exceed last year’s crowd of more than 1,500, and it will be a really fun night that builds bonds between our ‘little kid’ players and ‘big kid’ high school players, virtually all of whom came up through the Belmont youth program.  In fact, one great highlight is always that our high school players wear wristbands during the game that match the color of their Belmont 2nd Soccer team,” said Carson.

Admission to Soccer Night in Belmont is free. Concessions including pizza, hot dogs, snacks and drinks will be available for purchase, provided by Parents of Music Students (POMS) so families can come for the games and feed the kids at the same time.

Soccer Night in Belmont is sponsored by Belmont 2nd Soccer, Belmont Soccer Association, Belmont Savings Bank, The Rising, Phoenix Landing, with special thanks to Friends of Belmont Soccer (FOBS) and Belmont Athletic Director Jim Davis.

One Run Playoff: Belmont High Baseball Bows Out To Arlington In First Round

Photo: Senior Steve Rizzuto crossing the plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the 10th against Arlington.

The playoffs ended way too soon for Belmont High baseball.

A pair of errors on fly balls in the outfield proved the difference as Belmont walked off Brendan Grant Field as 12-ranked and Middlesex League rival Arlington (12-9) celebrating a 5-4 upset victory over the fifth-seed Marauders (15-6) in the first round of the Division 2 North sectional playoffs on Thursday, June 7.

“It’s a tough one,” said Head Coach Jim Brown after the game. “We were winning those lately.” 

The senior-heavy team nearly made off with another last inning victory, scoring three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 7th off Arlington reliever Jay Masci on four consecutive singles by seniors Dennis Crowley, Ryan Noone, Connor Dacey and Steve Rizzuto to tie the score at three. 

“That’s what is great about this senior class and these kids. They don’t panic and fight to the very end, to the last out. They never quit,” Brown. 

After allowing two runs to score on a two-out dropped fly ball in the top of the 10th off hard-luck loser Martin Marintchev who relieved senior starter Nate Espelin, Belmont quickly reduced the lead to one with a home run by the game’s hitting star Rizzuto, who went 4 for 4 with a double and the dinger, scored a run and drove in a pair. 

But with a man on second, a line drive to the Arlington shortstop started a 6-3 double play and an easy fly to right field ended the season which saw Belmont win consecutive Middlesex League championships, the first time since 1961 Belmont captured the league two seasons running. 

The one-run defeat was apropos for the team; in 21 games the Marauders played this season, 10 were decided by a single run.

“I love playing with this team. It was awesome,” said Espelin, Belmont’s ace southpaw who struck out 17 SpyPonders over nine innings while giving up two earned runs on five hits. “It was frustrating how it ended. It’s memorable the character that they all showed, how we stayed together no matter what.”

On Espelin’s first pitch of the game, leadoff hitter Brendan Jones sent the ball to deep center where the Marauder center fielder stumbles, recovers but then stumbles a second time to see the ball fall beyond his glove. Jones scored on Dara Conneely’s double.  

In the hole by a run after half an inning, the Marauders’ had its chances against Arlington starter Adam Bowler including leaving the bases loaded in the 2nd and 4th innings and stranding 12 men on base, 8 in scoring position. 

The SpyPonders increased its lead scoring twice in the top of the 4th with two singles and a double off Espelin.

It didn’t appear Belmont had anything in the tank offensively until the 7th when the bench erupted with each clutch hit by the middle of the order. But the team could not muster the one extra run to take the game.

Brown said despite the early exit, “it was definitely a good season. Obviously, these seniors, many who were three-year starters, wanted to go further in the playoffs. But I’m proud of them,” he said. 

 

WOW! Belmont Stun #1 Arlington, 3-2, In Div. 1 North Quarters As Dacey Stands Tall

Photo: The final scrum as Belmont’s Kevin Dacey saves with 9.1 seconds remaining to secure the 3-2 win over Arlington.

Belmont High Boys’ Hockey head coach Fred Allard looked bewildered, nearly speechless coming out of the locker room after addressing his team after Belmont stunned number 1-seed Arlington, 3-2, before a raucous Belmont’s traveling supporters in a standing-room-only O’Brien Rink in Woburn on Saturday, March 3.

“We call it our ‘Redemption Tour’ this year as we play teams we lost to a lot,” he said. “We have seniors who lost 9-0, 8-0 to Arlington early in their careers. To come back and win, amazing. I’m happy to be the coach of Belmont and just proud to coach this team.” 

Saturday’s game was 43 minutes of grind it out hockey and two minutes of a wild roller coaster of emotions as Belmont seemingly blew its best chance against the state favorites by giving up a tying goal with at 1:53 left only to be rescued by “Mr. March” sophomore Justin Roche’s wraparound at 23.5 seconds. The Marauders seemingly lost the lead for the second time with less than 10 seconds remaining but for a miraculous save by game MVP senior goalie Kevin Dacey and a correct call by the refs.

When the final horn blared, the team skated to where the Belmont supporters were located and despite three inches of tempered hockey panels, celebrated with fans, friends, and family.

For Dacey, the game was four years in the making.

“This was definitely a personal game for me. As a freshman I was pulled in my very first game against Arlington so ever since then I’ve wanted to get them back and I’m just so happy it happened.” 

Belmont lost away to Arlington, 4-1, in January that included a major dust-up that saw Dacey and Belmont’s leading scorer Steve Rizzuto bounced from the game. There was an equally nasty affair in Belmont in February that saw the Marauders on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss that included an empty-netter. 

“We lost twice but they were really a bouncing puck either way that could have changed it. We knew we could play with them,” said Dacey.

“He’s been the backbone of our team since his sophomore year. He’s kept us in most games and certainly kept us in this one. He’s one of the top goalies in the state and he’s got a heart of steel,” said Allard of his goaltender.

Belmont came out skating against Arlington and its aggressive play paid off twice as the Marauders took advantage of a pair of SpyPonder miscues. Belmont took a 1-0 lead in the first period when an errant pass during an Arlington line change was picked up by senior forward Ryan Noone leading to senior captain Dennis Crowley beating the SpyPonder’s goalie Jack Pinard five-hole with 3:59 left in the period.

Belmont’s doubled its lead in the second period courtesy of a bad defensive decision seconds after the puck dropped when outstanding freshman forward Ben Fici scored his ninth of the season from out in front at 10 seconds, assist from senior Alec Morin and that man Rocha.

For the remainder of the game, the storyline was if Belmont could hold on against the defending Super 8 champs with its high-powered offense. For most of the second period, Belmont’s defense kept Arlington to long-range shots that Dacey smothered with general ease.

In the third period, Arlington used its speed and strength to creep back into the match. It capitalized on a Belmont penalty, scoring early in the period (with 13:27 remaining) by junior defense Dara Conneely. Belmont stalling offense and Arlington’s ability to stay in the Marauders’ zone and continually squeeze the Belmont’s defense into Dacey silence the normally boisterous supporters. 

The seeming inevitable came as Arlington threw four players into the slot and senior wing Mike Callahan jumped on a loose puck seven feet from the goal and powered it between Dacey’s pads to tie it at 2 with 1:53 left in the period.

With overtime looming and Arlington controlling the game, it appeared Belmont was running on borrowed time against the energized SpyPonders.

But for Allard, the mood on the bench was resilient as the team recalled its first playoff game a few day back coming back from behind four times to defeat Melrose in the final minute. “These boys have responded every step of the way and I knew when [Arlington scored] we’d grind it out and find a way to win.”

Enter Rocha. On the second of two faceoffs in Arlington’s end, the sophomore took a Noone pass to the net and completed a classic wraparound by Pinard’s outstretched pads.

“I don’t even know what happened. I just got the puck down low in the slot and put it right around the goalie,” said Rocha who scored consecutive playoff winning goals. “It was all about wearing down the defense by keeping the puck down low. We just wore them down.” 

“We talk about ‘dirty’ goals, simply get it to the net and put home the rebound. Four of our five goals against Melrose was just that. And Rocha’s was just that way,” said Allard.

But Arlington provided one last heart-stopping moment when a near-perfect pass from the right circle met a pair of SpyPonders at the left corner of the net with 9.1 seconds remaining. But Dacey dove across the mouth of the goal to barely keep the puck from crossing the line. 

“It was just desperation. I just threw my stick out there and I just pulled it off the goal line,” said Dacey. As Arlington attempted to continue the play, the referee behind the net apparently blew the play dead to the bafflement of Arlington’s players who let their emotion get the best of them.

While pointing to Belmont’s playoff loss to St. John’s Prep in last year’s tourney as the “tipping point” in the resurgence of the program, Allard said the Arlington game is equally as important to the future of the sport.

“All you have to do is look at all the Belmont people who came out today and you realize that hockey in Belmont unlike a lot of things has returned. There is a history and a camaraderie and a level of success we haven’t had in a number of years so this is special. This will mean a lot for years to come,” said Allard. 

Sports: Girls’ Hoops Readies For Long Road Trip With Win Over SpyPonders

Photo: Meghan Tan (with ball) driving to the basket against Arlington as Jane Mahon looks on. (Credit: Pete Giorgio)

In its last home game before an extended stretch away from the Wenner Field House against some of the most competitive teams it’ll face before the playoffs, Belmont High Girls’ Basketball took care of an undermanned but scrappy Arlington High SpyPonders squad, 73-55, on Friday night, Jan. 19. 

Led by junior center Jess Giorgio whose 13 points was her second game in double digit, Belmont spread the scoring around as seven of the eight player who tallied scored eight or more points in the game.

“What’s great about their unselfish play is that we don’t always go to the same girl to score. Everyone contributes which makes it hard of  the other teams to focus on just a few players,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Melissa Hart, whose team is currently 8-1 and 7-0 against Middlesex League opposition. 

Belmont took the lead early through senior co-captain Greta Propp who hit her first three shots to give the Marauders a 6-3 lead and when senior co-captain Jenny Call launched a three, the lead was four, 10-6, midway through the first. The Marauders steadily upped the lead to 28-16 with 3:30 remaining in the second on a Jane Mahon bucket off the give and go from Giorgio. The Marauders finished the quarter with threes from Meghan Tan and Call to end the half leading the SpyPonders, 39-23.

Arlington did claw back through game scoring leader freshman guard Eva Connolly who led all scorers with 19 points (going 8-8 from the free-throw line), and senior guard Ellie Demaree who tallied 18 points. Arlington did reduce the lead to 11, 54-43, just before the end of the third quarter.

But Belmont’s height advantage and good shot selection saw the lead near 20 with eight minutes left in the game.

Senior captains Carly Christofori and Jenny Call each scored 11 points – with Call adding three more three-pointers to her already team career record scoring from beyond the arc. Junior guard Meghan Tan and the Marauders’ third captain Greta Propp threw in nine points while bench players junior Jane Mahon and frosh Maiya Bergdorf knocked in eight apiece. 

Belmont’s stretch of success – recognized with top 10 rankings in both Boston daily newspapers polls – will be tested beginning this week as the team plays four of its next five games on the road against tough league competition.

First up will be 6-2 Melrose on Tuesday, Jan 23 before Belmont makes a brief stop home on Friday, Jan. 26 against a rebuilding Watertown club before playing three games in five days; a Sunday afternoon matinee, Jan. 28, against Lexington then up against the currently undefeated Wakefield (9-0) squad on Tuesday, Jan. 30 then a visit on Friday, Feb. 2 to Woburn (8-1) which took the Marauders to the brink at the Wenner before the team pulled it out late.