Belmont Boys’ Lax Wins First Ever Home Playoff Match, 8-7, Over Peabody; Next No. 1 St. John’s Prep Thursday

Photo: Belmont High’s Matt Pomer celebrating the game-winning goal vs. Peabody.

A goal by sophomore Midfielder Matt Pomer – his fourth of game – with 4:03 left in the match secured a historic victory as Belmont High (10-9) defeated Peabody Veterans Memorial High, 8-7, in the preliminary play-in game of the Division 1 MIAA Boys’ Lacrosse tournament at Harris Field on Tuesday, June 7.

The win was the first home tournament victory in program history as well as the first playoff game ever held at Belmont High. It is Head Coach Josh Streit’s first playoff victory of his career. (Belmont has won postseason games in the past: 7-5 vs host Masconomet in 2008 and 13-4 at Shawsheen in 2010).

“I thought we were moving the ball so well. The team was dodging to move the ball and you saw that in our goals,” said Streit.

Pomers’ goal came after the Mustangs (9-9) tied the match, 7-7, with a little less than seven minutes remaining in a tight match that justified the teams’ power rankings Belmont 32nd and Peabody 33rd.

After giving up the opening goal Peabody’s impressive sophomore long stick John Lucas – who ended up with three goals on as many shots, an assist and five ground-balls – Belmont sprinted to a 4-1 lead in a little over three-and-a half minutes in the first quarter: Pomer’s first (whose solo run was described as watching a ”freight train”) to tie it up followed twice by senior attack co-captain Spencer Scali, the first on a quick give and go from junior mid Quinn Leary and the second scooping up a Peabody drop ball in front of goal. Pomer finished the scoring with a long-range bullet.

Belmont was able to secure the ball and stay on the offense for most of the game by the grunt work “in the X” (the face off circle) from senior Ian Burns who Streit named the ”Man of the Match” for winning 90 percent of the draws he was involved.

”It’s all mentality with face offs,” said Burns. ”Peabody’s player got into my head a little bit but I made sure to stay on my game. And it was a big, big team win and I definitely tried to play my part the best I could.”

But Peabody, who finished with a winning mark in the season, came storming back scoring twice in 12 seconds midway through the second to level the contest at 4-4 before Pomer’s third in the half from a smart Leary assist gave Belmont the one goal margin at the half.

But the third was Peabody’s whose defense forced four consecutive ground ball turnovers as Belmont’s attack and middies were dodging into Mustang players ”and they were quickly doubling up on us and that led to our problems,” said Streit. On the other side of the field, it was that man, the defender Lucas, who twice outran the Marauder midfielders to score two minutes apart to give the visitors a 6-5 lead entering the final quarter.

But Belmont came out on the attack with senior attack Aubrey Talanian scoring the best individual goal of the afternoon, spinning the defender the wrong way to launch an uncontested tally 31 seconds in the quarter. Exactly one minute later, Talanian was mismatched against a smaller defender and powered Belmont in the lead at 7-6.

Despite two big saves by sophomore goalie Nate Moss – top notch against every attempt from distance – to keep the lead at one, Peabody would tie it up at 7s with 6:53 to go with overtime a real possibility. But Pomer, who had been quiet for the half, found himself open to the right of Peabody goalie Derek Patturelli and slotted his fourth goal of the game and secured the victory.

While the Peabody match was one of power ranking equals, Belmont’s round of 32 contest will see the Marauders taking on defending state Division 1 champions and number 1 seed St. John’s Prep in Danvers on Thursday, June 9 at 5 p.m. Streit said he had not been looking beyond Peabody so would have a quick look at tapes of the Eagles. ”We don’t know much about them, but then, they probably know very little about us, which is good,” said Streit.

”We just have to keep an open mind. We know the team is going to be a really good team. But we’re going in what the underdog mentality and I think it’s good to stay together as a team and keep our heads up going into the next game,” said Burns.

Last In Belmont Boys’ Lacrosse Entertains Peabody Tuesday, June 7 In Division 1 Prelims

Photo: Belmont High will be playing in the MIAA Division 1 Boys’ Lacrosse tournament

It doesn’t matter how you make the postseason, just that you did. And by the skin of their teeth, the Belmont High’s Boys’ Lacrosse will be playing next week in the Division 1 state championships.

Under the MIAA state tournament system, the top 32 teams in the power rankings are invited to the playoffs much like the NCAA system. And for the final weeks, Belmont were hovering around that coveted final spot to extend its season.

And the Marauders (9-9) came through with 6 wins in their final 8 matches and in the final rankings, Belmont got an automatic bid … as the 32nd seed.

Whew!

Under the tourney system, any team with a winning or .500 record also are invited in to play the lowest seeded teams, which includes Belmont. As a result, Belmont will welcome 9-7 Peabody Veterans High School to Harris Field on Tuesday, June 7 at 6:30 p.m. in a play-in match.

This marks the second time this season teams from Belmont and Peabody will meet in a preliminary round match as the Mustangs defeated the Marauders, 1-0, in Boys’ Soccer last fall.

Winning the play-in may just be a pyrrhic-victory as the team left standing will face the number 1 seed and perennial Division 1 powerhouse St. John’s Prep at Danvers.

But, that team will be playing one more game.

Lacrosse Night In Belmont A Showcase For Youngsters And Varsity Alike

Photo: The present and the future of Belmont lacrosse ready to enter the pitch at Lacrosse Night in Belmont

Despite the record 86 degrees heat, the stands at Harris Field were packed Saturday afternoon, May 14, as families, parents and players came out for a night of cheering the town’s lacrosse players.

Dozens of the youngest boys and girls in the Belmont Youth Lacrosse joined the varsity players from Belmont High School during Lacrosse Night in Belmont, the annual event promoting the game and attracting new players and the larger community to the sport.

“They’re more fans in the stands that we’ve ever seen. And it’s a testament to all the people who were involved this year,” said Belmont High Boys’ Lacrosse Head Coach Josh Streit, one of the drivers of the event which emulates Soccer Night In Belmont held each October.

The young athletes and the high school players marched out to the center of the pitch to sing the national anthem along with the Chenery Middle School chorus. At half time of both games, the youngsters got their chance to shine with a 10-minute exhibition

“It was so great to see the smiles on the kids. These partnerships with the youth and building both high school and the youth program was so important to having successful programs,” said Streit, as the youth players came off the pitch looking forward to free Moozy’s ice cream and the T-shirt toss.

Boys’ double up Arlington, 12-6, as Marauders seek a playoff fixture

Everything clicked for Belmont Boys’ Lacrosse as the Marauders doubled up Arlington, 12-6, in the early game of the Lacrosse Night In Belmont doubleheader.

While the team played the most complete game this year against North Reading and its best game was versus Burlington, the Arlington was “kind of a bigger win for us,” said Streit. “This was great because offensively we were doing the things that we preach at practice and we were running our offense all game long” which produced some of the best goals this year, he said, particularly a blast into the low corner of net from junior mid Quinn Leary at “the end of high tempo, high end offense that we’re capable of doing.”

The highlight of the match was the breakout performance from junior mid/attack Jack Murphy who as an injury replacement with a single tally this season, scored four goals and an assist. ”He was in the right place and knowing the offense and the offense looking for him because he was getting to the spot.”

After struggling to get out of the gate this season, the Boys’ have reached .500 with a dominating 17-2 performance vs Somerville only to drop a notch losing to host Lexington, 19-13, on Thursday, May 19. Belmont starts the week with a record of 7-8-0 with a MIAA Power Rating of 32nd, the final automatic playoff position in Division 1.

Girls’ at .500 after 19-13 loss to SpyPonders

The Belmont Girls’ found themselves in a physical game with the SpyPonders who had the size and heft to play that game and upending the Marauders 19-12. Despite the outcome, the team put up double digit in goals against a very good defensive team.

The Marauders got out of the box quickly to build a 2-0 lead in the first four minutes. But the physical SpyPonders benefiting from the refs decision to “let them play” muscled their way to a 7-2 lead midway in the first half before junior mid Stella Lesknik scored while falling from a push in the back. Belmont cut the lead to three with a pair of goals – courtesy sophomore mid/attack Tess DeSantis and junior mid Layne Doherty in the final 3:16 to leave the field down 9-6.

But Arlington came out strong with the first four goals in the first five minutes of the second half off of winning each of the face-off draws in the half before junior attack Mary Mullan got Belmont back on the scorer’s sheet six minutes in.

Marauders’ Head Coach Rebecca Reed said winning will come with ”winning draws and ground balls. The draw controls a lot. You win the draw you typically win the game.”

“We simply needed possession because we have a better set offense than most teams,” she said.

Belmont’s Mullan was the game’s high scorer with five goals including the Marauder’s final three goals, the last two scored with 27 seconds and a single second remaining on the clock.

“We tried to spread out our offense on cuts and try to make an open lane which is crucial so you’re not getting doubled (by defenders). It really is trying to get to the net the best way possible,” she said.

Since lacrosse night, Belmont found themselves on the wrong side in consecutive high scoring games against Lexington and the return fixture with Arlington.

Marauders Enter Spring Playoffs With A Pair Of Belmont Favorites At Division 1 North Track Championships

Photo: Belmont High athletes and teams are in playoff and championship action this weekend

A pair of Belmont High field performers and a powerhouse Marauder team will be headlining the return this weekend of sports tournaments and championship meets sponsored by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Senior pole vaulter Sarah Firth will attempt to take the Division 1 North title while junior Sofia Hospodar has the co-longest triple jump in the division this outdoor season at 36-feet, 6-inches. Firth, who won both the All-State and New England titles in 2019, has the best height in the state of 11 feet, 6-inches. Firth will also run the 100-meter hurdles at the meet held in North Andover.

This season marks the return to the pitch of Belmont High Rugby, out to defend its 2019 Division 1 state title. The 4-0 Marauders is the second seed by way of a coin flip with fellow undefeated Milton, the two-time state Division 2 champions who were promoted into the top league this year.

Belmont will host three-seed Boston College High, whose only loss this season was to Belmont, in a semifinal match on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. on Harris Field.

Belmont Boys’ Lacrosse (5-7) will take on hosts North Attleborough High (6-7) in an 8-9 match-up on Friday, June 18 art 4 p.m., with the winner having the tall task of visiting first ranked Medfield High School (14-1) on Monday.

Belmont High Baseball, ranked 21 (3-8), will have a long trek on Friday, June 18, as they hike up to Haverhill to play 12th ranked Whittier Regional Vocational Tech (7-6) at 1 p.m.

Belmont Boys’ Tennis travels to Concord Carlisle at Noon, Friday, June 18, as the hosts, ranked 6th, will challenge number 11 Marauders.

In competition in the D1N meet completed on Thursday, June 17, Belmont junior Jackson Coelho took 4th in the 800 meters in 1-minute, 57.04 seconds while senior Colby Woo cleared 11-feet, 6-inches in the pole vault for 5th.

At the D1N outdoor track championship meet, Belmont Girls’ will be represented by seniors Leya El-Chanati (100, 200 and long jump); Isabel Burger (1 mile), Rachel November (400 hurdles), the 4×800 relay; while seniors Samantha Lim and Knar Krafian joins Firth in the 100 hurdles.

Sports: After Rough Start, Youthful Boys’ Lax Finds a D That Works

Photo: Belmont’s Jackson Pullman vs. Tewksbury

In its first two matches of the season, Belmont High Boys’ Lacrosse looked really good … for the first 12 minutes. 

In each game, Belmont outplayed two tough, experienced teams in Melrose and Newton South, outscoring them 2-1 and 1-0 in the first quarter.

But Boys’ Lacrosse games are comprised of three 12 minute quarters, during which Belmont’s young players were overrun like the humans by the zombies in “World War Z” to the tune of 16-4 (Melrose) and 13-6 (Newton South). 

But Belmont’s Head Coach Josh Streit saw something in those games that gave him a lot of hope in the matches to come.

“We are a very young team, mostly juniors, and sophomores. We are taking some time learning a new offense and finding our positions. But what we are is very, very talented and that’s why we could stay with those teams,” said Streit.

And wouldn’t you know it, change for the better arrived in the next four games. An opening win vs. Stoneham (17-5), then a pair of defensive standout games away at Wilmington (7-3) and Dracut (4-2) before returning home on Monday, April 24 against non-league Tewksbury in which the team continued its winning streak with a 14-3 walk over to bring the team’s overall record to 4-2 as it enters league play this week.

“I told the guys that our first quarter and the first half has been unbelievable,” said Streit.

While praising his newly-found offense led by attacker Alec Morin (8 goals vs. Tewksbury) and a pair of sophomores, James Nally and Jacob Smialek, Streit targeted his defense and goaltending for the recent run of success.

“We’ve only given up 14 goals in four games, and it starts with Micheal Delhomme in net who have been lights out in net,” said Streit, who said the sophomore netminder was become much more aggressive facing up to the opponents (including one play against Tewksbury where he leaped and nearly mugged the attacker) and has been the “quarterback of quarterbacks” clearing the ball to the offense.

He said over the stretch the team’s long poles (the central defenders), Caleb Henman, Avery Gartland and the 6’4″ junior Thomas Ballard, have been gaining possession of the ball and making quick clearing passes “that gets to our attackers.”

The team now heads into the Middlesex League gauntlet facing very skilled teams – weather permitting – from Arlington, Woburn, Burlington, Arlington Catholic, Wakefield.

“It’s boom, boom, boom, boom. One playoff team after another” said Streit.

While cognizant of the difficult few weeks before them, Streit said he is still building a program that started four years ago.

“We’re just trying to get better in each quarter, getting more looks at goal. I know it’s cliche but it is the next play, the next move, the next pass. That’s how we’ll be a winning program.” 

Sports: Boys’ Lacrosse Enters ‘Critical’ Stretch at .500 With Strong Win Over Dracut

Photo: Trey Butler. 

Belmont High School Boys’ Lacrosse Head Coach Josh Streit wanted to go into the coming week on a high note. And Saturday’s performance by his squad was the response he was seeking as the Marauders behind senior captain midfielder Trey Butler’s nine goals, four assist morning beat a young Dracut High team, 17-7, on a wet Harris Field Saturday, April 23.

“This a huge week coming up and we are excited how we played today,” said Streit, noting that they play Arlington, Stoneham and Woburn in the week after spring recess. 

“This is where we wanted to be at .500 (3-3), so this week is a make or break for us because these are all winnable games coming up,” said Streit. The first week of May will see two more games with Burlington and Watertown that Belmont should be favored to win, he said.

The next five games are important for us and important for us to win. We are looking to get to nine [wins, which will put the Marauders in the playoffs] and if we can run five more we will be at eight and then we just have to steal one down the road,” said Streit. 

On the field, Middlesex All-Star Butler was again the spark for the offense to run off, taking on the double team; either beating multiple defenders or dishing off to a cutting attack. Butler is also nearing the school record for points and goals, marking just another school career record that appears ready to fall, this year including in girls’ swimming (Jessie Blake-West) and boys’ basketball (Matt Kerans).

“[Butler] will get the headlines for the goals but the best player today was [senior midfielder] Justin Wagner (1 goal) was the man of the match for the first half because of all the ground balls he picked up and riding so he was a huge difference-maker for us,” said Streit. 

Also with multiple goals were attack Michael Cole with four tallies and Nick Coppolo with a pair. 

The game began under a dark cloud as senior goaltender Peter Stoesser “injured his thumb in warm ups” said Streit.

Stoesser has been unbeatable from 15 yards and longer “and that’s the reason we play the defense that we do,” said Streit.

In his place, freshman Mike Delhomme was put in the net “and he’s great; athletic, moves very well and is very loud. I was concerned for [Stoesser] but not for the team today,” he said. 

Sports: Boys’ Lacrosse Rely on Big Time Goalie, Attack Play to Win Home Opener

Photo: Belmont senior attack Trey Butler (in white) scored six times, including here surrounded by three defenders and connecting from a severe angle.

Goalie Peter Stoesser’s big stick and the offensive creativity of attackman Trey Butler propelled Belmont High School’s Boys’ Lacrosse team over a quick and chippy Wilmington High squad as the Marauders coming away with an 8-6 victory at the team’s home opener Friday afternoon, April 15 at Harris Field.

The win was the team’s second consecutive victory and lifts the Marauders to 2-3 after starting the season on the road for four straight games.

Part of Belmont’s one-two punch Friday came from senior Stoesser, who shut down the Wildcats from 10 yards and beyond. The call of “All day” was heard on the Marauder sideline as Stoesser pocketed each shot attempted from a distance.

On the other end of the pitch, senior captain Trey Butler proved to be the man of the match on the offensive side. One of the best lacrosse players in program history, Butler scored six times – including surrounded by three defenders and connecting from a severe angle – on ten shots while providing an assist on Tyler Reynolds’ goal. The only tally Butler was not involved in was Aleck Morin’s beautiful score (and final goal of the game) that bounced high off the turf into the net.

Next up for the squad is a home match with Dracut on Saturday, April 23.

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Butler Reaches 150 Goals as Belmont Boys LAX (4-3) Down SpyPonders

Photo: Trey Butler setting up to score his 149 goal in his high school career. 

Junior attack Trey Butler reached the 150 goal milestone as the Belmont High School Boys’ Lacrosse won its first Middlesex League match of the season, defeating Arlington High School, 17-11, in a chippy affair at Harris Field on Friday, April 18. 

“From freshman year, it’s been a team effort and it’s all part of the teammates passing me the ball and encouraging me every step of the way,” Butler told the Belmontonian after the game in which he scored four goals and two assists.

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“Last year there was a lot of pressure and it was hard not to get frustrated when things aren’t going your way,” said Butler, who is also a standout defender on the hockey team.

“But this year, we’ve been winning because everyone has been putting in a lot of work in the off season and it’s starting to pay off this year,” said Butler.

“Huge win of us,” said Belmont Head Coach Josh Streit after the win, lifting the program over .500 at 4-3. The SpyPonders drop to 2-4. 

“Arlington has been a rival for us in my tenure and they have played us very tough in the league so we knew this was a place for us to see to kind of see where we could stand and if we can make some noise,” said Streit. The win puts Belmont five victories from a return to the Eastern Mass. Div. 2 playoffs since 2011.

The match started off at a crawl, going more than half the first quarter before a pair of goals from junior Michael Cole (3 goals, 1 assist) and Butler’s first gave Belmont a 3-1 lead going to the second.

Goals by Cole, senior Samuel Bozkurtian (3 goals, 1 assist) and two from by Butler with outstanding defense from seniors Joseph Paolillo and Luke Paolcari along with junior Andrew Ballard allowed the Marauders to enter halftime with a 7-3 lead.

It was at 3:38 left in the third – in a half which saw a multitude of penalties calls – when Bozkurtian passed to Butler to the left of the goal, snapping the ball into the net to hit 150 goals as Belmont doubled its goals to take a 14-6 advantage into the final period.

After the game, Streit continued to speak highly of his team after a mid-week loss to Reading High, in which he discovered his team “could grind and have the grit to stay with everyone in the league.”  

Down 10-2 in the third quarter and unable to generate an offensive surge, the team “stood up for themselves”, grinding out four straight goals against the Rocket’s top squad, falling 12-8 but putting Reading on the back foot for the remainder of the game.

“We made people notice and they saw the heart of this team,” said Streit.

The squad’s next match will be against Dracut next Saturday. 

Belmont Boys’ Lacrosse Gets A Slow Start to the Season

It was perfect conditions to play a lacrosse match in Belmont on Wednesday, April 2: bright sunshine and temperatures in the low 50s.

But for a young Belmont High School Boys’ Lacrosse team, the outcome was less than ideal. After playing visiting Watertown High School to a 2-2 draw in the first quarter, “the game got away a little quickly” in the second quarter, according to Belmont’s new Head Coach Josh Streit.

And while the Marauders got back to playing the scheme in the second half they had been practicing, Watertown was able to expose Belmont’s new defensive back line – three of the four are new to the top level – and headed down Common Street with the win, 15-8, in the season and home opener for the Marauders.

“Were a very young team almost exclusively sophomores and juniors with 11 new to varsity but there was a lot of real positives to be had,” he said.

Leading the Marauders on offense was sophomore midfield Trey Butler who tallied five goals including a underhanded improvisational goal in close that caught the eyes of the crowd.

“There will be growing pains so there will be a learning curve in the season,” said Streit.

“But there were moments of great lacrosse and great hard work. Even down by nine late, we never gave up.”