After OT Win, Belmont Field Hockey Sees Playoff Run End To Central Catholic

Photo: Junior Morgan Chase scores vs. Central Catholic.

For 60 minutes on Saturday night, Nov. 4, the Belmont High Field Hockey team ran, passed and demonstrated solid stick skills that on most days would secure an easy victory for the Marauders.

But that wasn’t the case on a turf field in downtown Lawrence. It just so happened fifth-ranked Belmont met a fourth-seed Central Catholic High team that decided to show off its best form of the season against the visitors.

“They were really that good,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith after her team’s 6-1 defeat to the Raiders. “You should feel like you didn’t come out to play. That was not the case. They were superstars tonight and you were outmatched. It happens.”

“I asked their coach if they play like that all the time and she said that [Saturday’s game] was by far their best game of the entire year,” Smith told the Belmontonian. “We just got them on their best day ever.”

“They had to be their best because they were playing us,” noted one of the team co-captains which her colleagues agreed.

Belmont ended their season with a 13-3-2 record which included a 1-0 overtime victory over Natick in the opening round of the sectionals. The seniors, many who played the past three years on varsity, leave a strong legacy to build on, compiling a 42-9-3 record that included two league titles and three postseason appearances.

For senior forward and co-captain Alexa Sabatino, the night brought to a close a successful season for this tight set of teammates.

“At the beginning of the season, we lost two really important players (AnneMarie Habelow and Julia Chase who are currently playing Division 1 college field hockey), so we knew we had to work really hard. And everyone really stepped up because we needed that cohesiveness to go this far,” said Sabatino.

“And it was so much fun coming to practice this year, not one dreads it. It was a great team aspect, so we’re all really happy what we accomplished and be a part of it,” Sabatino said.

As for the game, Central Catholic was rolling on both sides of the ball using a great deal of speed, pinpoint passing and a swarming defense to counter a Belmont team that was performing at a high level of hockey proficiency. Standout defender sophomore Emma Donahue was kept busy with backline teammates seniors Meri Power and Johnna Crowley and sophomore Meaghan Noone to halt the Raiders straight-line offense up and down the pitch.  

But it was the lack of a scoring punch, a bugaboo for Belmont all season long, along with Central Catholics swarming defense around the ball which kept the Marauders off balance inside the attack circle. 

After a close miss by the left post by junior forward Mia Kaldenbaugh, Belmont finally broke through four minutes from the end when junior forward Morgan Chase – who scored against Central Catholic two years ago in a 5-3 victory in an opening-round playoff game – slotted a shot from two meters out into the right side of the Raiders’ net with an assist from sophomore midfield standout Katie Guden.

The Marauders got its post-season off on the right foot against Natick on Wednesday with an exciting 1-0 OT victory at Harris Field that belied just how dominate Belmont was on the pitch. Belmont grabbed 21 penalty corners to Natick’s 1 and had 26 shots to the Redhawks’ 2. But as in Lawrence, Belmont could not find the final touch on the ball despite playing nearly the entire second half in the Natick end.

That lack of a scoring punch nearly came back to bite the Marauders as Natick came out the aggressor in the overtime – when the teams are reduced to 7 players from 11 – as Belmont relied on Donahue to make some critical stops in front of senior goalie Christine MacLeod. The game-winner came two minutes remaining in the first extra session when Guden “decided that this game had gone on too long” and put in a shot from beyond 10 meters to secure the win.

The playoff victory softened the team’s exit from the sectionals which also brought to an end “coaching one of my favorite of all teams I’ve ever had,” said an emotional Smith.

“Now I don’t have anything to do in the afternoons,” Smith told her team saying she even enjoyed coming to practice each day. “Maybe I’ll now just go clean my house,” she said.

Sports: Boys’ Soccer Upsets Lexington (Again); Field Hockey Fit To Be Tied; W for Girls’ Soccer

Photo: Belmont High Junior Alex Rokosz is patroling the midfield.

Boys’  Soccer Upsets Top-Five Lexington, again

For the second time this season, Belmont Boys’ Soccer has played spoiler to Lexington High’s drive to repeat as the state’s Division 1 champions as the visiting Marauders’ (8-3-2) defeated the 5th-ranked (in the Boston Globe poll) Minutemen (10-2-1), 2-1, on a second-half goal by senior forward Andrew Karalis. Along with its 1-1 tie at home in September, Belmont has taken 3 of 4 points from the c0-Middlesex League leaders along with Arlington.

The Marauders have three games remaining in the season, at Winchester on Thursday, Oct. 19; at Reading on Tuesday, Oct. 24; and home vs. 17th ranked Arlington on Seniors Night, Thursday, Oct.26.

Field hockey fit to be tied

In what Head Coach Jess Smith called a “sluggish” performance, Belmont High Field Hockey could only take away a 1-1 tie against host Lexington on Wednesday, Oct. 18. After falling behind 1-0 early in the match, sophomore midfielder Katie Guden slotted in the equalizer midway through the half. Despite some golden chances, the Marauders could not find the final touch in front of Lexington’s net in the second half.

The tie leaves Belmont at 9-1-2 as it awaits Middlesex League leader and 5th-ranked Winchester, who comes to Harris Field on Friday, Oct. 20 with a record of 13-0-1, its tie coming against the Marauders. Belmont finishes the season at home (Seniors Night) against Arlington next Friday, Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Girls’ Soccer wins again

Belmont Girls Soccer took the measure of Lexington, 3-0, at Harris Field on Tuesday, Oct. 17, upping its record to 12-1-0 atop the Middlesex League Liberty Division and ranked 5th by the Boston Globe. Senior Co-Captain Carey Allard scored a brace in the one-sided affair.

The Marauders will finish the season against three tough opponents who they beat by single goals the first time around: Reading on Seniors Night on Tuesday, Oct. 24; away to Arlington on Thursday, Oct.26 and finishing the season away against 11-1-2 Winchester next Saturday, Oct. 30.

Belmont Field Hockey’s Big Week Taking On Lexington, Winchester

Photo: Meri Power vs. Wakefield.

After a pair of victories last week, Belmont High Field Hockey play three games against the best the Middlesex League Liberty Division has to offer with a chance for a third consecutive division title … if they win the final five games of the season.

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, Belmont (10-1-1) will travel to Lexington to a game against the Minutemen (8-3-1) before coming back home to Harris Field on Friday, Oct. 20 for a clash with undefeated Winchester (12-0-1) whose only blemish is a 1-1 tie against the Marauders back in September. Lexington makes the return trip to Belmont on Monday, Oct. 23.

Last week saw Belmont host Wakefield on Columbus Day, Oct. 9, in a morning matinee and a struggling Woburn squad on Thursday, Oct. 12.

Wakefield, in the mix for a place in the postseason for the first time in recent history, came out fighting against Belmont. Falling behind 1-0 and 2-1, the Warriors struck back with two innovative penalty corners using give and go passing to find the goal. But four goals in the second half saw Belmont pull away with junior Mia Kaldenbaugh scoring the final tally.

“They were so much better than I expected from the last few times we played,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith. She credited her team’s penalty corners – scoring twice – with the win.

“They were not missing the pass out and really striking the ball hard to the net,” she said.

Many of Belmont’s bench players got into the game against winless Woburn who despite its record has the most reliable goalie in the league in senior Nora Newman. She kept Belmont at bay for the first half, allowing only three goals. But Belmont broke through with five more in the 8-0 home win. Junior forward Morgan Chase added to her top goals total with two more joined by junior Hannah Power with her own brace. 

Looking towards the next three games, Smith was pleased with the team’s collective speed and passing “which was so much better. They are using each other so much more, and we are working on using the long ball drive.” 

The team has taken to knocking the ball deep downfield after seeing their former teammate AnnMarie Habelow as her college team, the Louisville Cardinals, played Boston College in Newton. 

“I’m trying to get them to take longer passes, but it didn’t seem to them like it was necessary until they actually watched another team do it,” said Smith.

“And now they saw that they were successful using it in our games and hopefully that helps them get used to it,” she said.

Unbeaten Belmont Field Hockey Readies For Watertown Clash Thursday

Photo: Belmont High’s Alexa Sabatino scoring against Melrose

Belmont High Field Hockey had an eventful past week: the team tied up one of the leading squads in New England (and Watertown slayer) Winchester, 1-1, on the Sachems’ home turf, knocked off Reading 2-0 at home and earned an excellent 1-0 away victory at Arlington.

And on Tuesday, Oct. 3, the team showed off its good form beating Melrose, 5-1, under the lights of Harris Field.

And the team’s reward for being 7-0-1 with six shutouts? Being excluded from the Boston Globe Top 20 rankings and having to take on 8-1-0 Watertown away at Victory Field for the second year running.

I ask you; where’s the love?

For Jessie Smith, Belmont’s long-serving head coach, the past four games have been preparing for the battle with the Raiders, the six-time Div 2 State champion who had its record unbeaten streak ended by Winchester in September.

“I’ve been pleased with how we have been playing. Our passing has been outstanding, and we’ve been scoring when we needed to,” Smith said.

In her best match of the bunch, Belmont hung tough against Winchester behind senior goaltender Christine McLeod who stopped 14 of 15 hard shots thrown at her, including making a spectacular diving save early in the second half. Smith pointed to the defensive back line of Emma Donahue, Johnna Crowley, Hanna Power and sub Meaghan Noone breaking up a number of Winchester’s attacks.

While Winchester did break through with 12 minutes to play as Shannon Crowe scored from a penalty corner, Belmont’s senior captain Alexa Sabatino beat Winchester goalie Brooke Ross with the equalizer five minutes later off of the Marauders’ first penalty corner of the game.

“After they scored, we really stepped it up. You could see they hadn’t given up and wanted to get that goal back,” said Smith.

After a solid 2-0 win over Reading, Belmont traveled to Spy Pond country where they encountered an improving Arlington squad.

With Arlington deploying a defense consisting of its entire team stationed between the ball and the goal when Belmont was on the attack, it took the Marauders a good 50 minutes to solve the labyrinth  of sticks and players as junior right attack Morgan Chase lifted the ball into net from eight meters out with nine minutes remaining in the game.

“Their defense was really strong which made it difficult to make our passes,” said Chase who is one of team’s leading scorers.

Tuesday’s game against visiting Melrose allowed Smith to clear the bench and use her entire team leading up to the Watertown match. Junior Mia Kaldenbaugh punched in a pair with Sabatino and sophomore midfield Katie Guden both scoring.

The final goal was by the future of Belmont Field Hockey as sophomore Cleo Theodoropulos grabbing the late tally, her first of the season.

Belmont will take on the one-loss Watertown team on Thursday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. at Victory Field

After losing to Winchester in a one-sided contest, Watertown has been on a tear, winning six consecutive games all by shutouts while scoring six goals four times.

For Smith, the game will be won by the team that controls the midfield.

“We have to keep our feet moving on defense and really push forward when we have the chance,” said Smith.

Field Hockey: Perfect Start For Sure: 4 Games, 4 Wins, 4 Shutouts


After the first two weeks of the season, Belmont High Field Hockey has been, let’s say it, damn near perfect. In four games, the team is undefeated with 19 goals scored, and none conceded. That’s right; not a single ball has gotten by senior goalie Christine MacLeod.

Zero, zilch, nada.

And this from a team that lost nearly its entire back line from last year’s team and a defensive midfielder, AnnMarie Habelow, who is currently playing for Division 1 Louisville.

Not a bad start for Head Coach Jessie Smith’s squad made up of an extensive list of young role players who are jelling on the pitch right from the outset of the first game. 

Belmont will meet its stiffest challenge of the season so far on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. as the Marauders host 3-1 Lexington at Harris Field.

After a blowout of Burlington and two easier games against Stoneham and Woburn, it took Belmont nearly the entire hour to break down Wilmington’s defensive stranglehold as the Tanners placed all its field players in front of the ball when Belmont was attacking. But 

The biggest challenge was reconstructing the three defenders after losing All-Star Julia Chase (now playing at D1 UNH) and three-year varsity starter Molly Goldberg to graduation. Playing center defense is sophomore Emma Donahue who is learning to be a significant presence on the field, stepping up to take away passing lanes and intercepting balls in Belmont’s 1-0 win over a strong Wilmington squad last Monday, Sept. 11. 

Joining Donahue – who is the niece of Watertown’s coaching legend Eileen Donahue – are senior veterans Meri Power and Johnna Crowley who Smith called “a defensive wall” making “great decisions with the ball” in the Wilmington game.

Taking over in center midfield from Habelow is all-star in the making sophomore Katie Guden. Running the offensive, Guden is Smith’s “Energizer Bunny. That kid never stops.”

“She is such a force when moving the ball and her passes [are] outstanding,” said Smith. Joining Guden quarterbacking the team are senior co-captains, Bridget Gardiner and Lillie Devitt. 

“The midfield in general [is] very involved both defensively and offensively. They are critical in all transitions,” said Smith.

Belmont has not lost its scoring punch of the past two years, led by junior Jordan Lettiere who has talled six goals (including a hat-trick in the Marauders’ 5-0 at Stoneham) in three of the four games. Fellow junior Morgan Chase continues from last year being the team’s offensive juggernaut, using her stick handling skills to attack the opposition. It was her goal from an assist from Lettiere in the final three minutes of the Wilmington match.

Alexa Sabatino, the third senior co-captain, junior Hannah Power (each with two goals this season) and several more players are contributing in the opposition’s attacking zone. 

“We are nearly half way to our goal of making the playoffs, once again,” said Smith.

Sports: Trio Of Belmont Teams Shut Out Red Devils In Season Openers

Photo: Carey Allard on the ball

Three Belmont High School fall sports team opened their 2017 seasons on Thursday, Sept. 7 with impressive shut out victories on the opening day of their campaigns.

Girls Soccer: Belmont 6, Burlington 0

This is a warning for teams in the Middlesex League; don’t get Belmont’s Carey Allard angry. She’ll just score more goals.

That’s what an undermanned Burlington High squad discovered when they attempted to cover and mark the All-Star left forward a bit too aggressively. After being her ankles clipped and body pushed off the ball during the early moments of the first half, the Marauders’ Division 1-commit (she’s heading to UNC-Wilmington next fall) was determined to answer the physical play by punishing the defense.

With Belmont already dominating the game leading 2-0, Allard put her distinctive stamp on the game by scoring a true hat-trick within a 16-minute span, to put the match out of reach by the half.

“[Allard’s] going to score,” said Paul Graham, who has coached the team for the past quarter century.

“When she shoots from the outside like that, there’s no goalie is going to stop her.”

Allard wasn’t finished, scoring her best for last, driving by three defenders and sidestepping a fourth before placing a sharp shot deftly just inside the right post to give Belmont a 6-0 opening day win over Burlington.

“I thought all 23 players played well,” said Graham, using everyone on the bench in the home opener. 

He pointed to midfield co-captain Emma Sass’ mastery of the middle of the pitch leading to Belmont controlling the game. “She’s just so strong, controls the ball well and sees the field so well,” said Graham.

Belmont wasted no time showing its dominance scoring at the one minute mark with senior co-captain Courtney Gray spinning and dropping a shot over the head of the Burlington goaltender and into the net. Ten minutes later, Morgan Krauss doubled the lead with a shot from the right side of the goal. 

Graham also praised his back three of juniors Meagan Tan and Emily Dexter and senior Natalie Marcus-Bauer. “They played superior. They dominated when they got the ball and passed it around,” said Graham.

The true test of Belmont’s potential will come when it goes toe-to-toe with the power teams in the Middlesex League. One of those is Wilmington which the Marauders will battle away from home on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m.

Field Hockey: Belmont 9, Burlington 0

Six Marauders scored as Coach Jessica Smith’s field hockey squad opened the flood gates against host Burlington as Belmont seeks its third consecutive Middlesex Liberty Division title.  

“It was a great team effort,” said Smtih, who used each of the 21 players on her roster.

Leading Belmont offensively was sophomore Katie Guden and junior Morgan Chase who ended the night with three points with two goals and an assist, joining Hana Powers who also pocketed a pair. Co-capt. Senior Bridget Gardiner also had three points with a goal and two assists while her fellow captain senior Alexa Sabatino had a goal and an assist. Jordan Lettiere completed the scoring with her first strike of the campaign.

“It was really fun to watch this young team in action. The passing and shots on net were fabulous,” said Smith.

“[Katie] Guden was fantastic. She is a force when moving the ball and her passes were outstanding. Gardiner also played a fabulous game.  The midfield, in general, was very involved both defensively and offensively. They including Lillie Devitt were key in all transitions,” said Smith.

While Belmont lost two Division 1 College players – midfield/sweeper AnnMarie Habelow (Louisville) and defender Julia Chase (UNH) – and a three-year starter on defense (Molly Goldberg) to graduation, it appears Smith has found a solid back row with Meri Hana and Johanna Crowley as fullbacks and sweeper Emma Donahue (niece of Watertown legionary head coach Eileen Donahue) playing in front of veteran goaltender Chrissy MacLeod. 

Boys Soccer: Belmont 3, Burlington 0

Marauder senior goalkeeper Nate Espelin stopped a penalty and earned the 3-0 shutout as Belmont High’s Boys Soccer started the 2017 season beating host Burlington on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 7.

Leading 2-0 ten minutes into the second half, a tripping foul by Belmont’s Kostas Tingos within the penalty area gave the Red Devils the opportunity to half the lead with plenty of time still to play. But like a good poker player, Espelin saw a big time “tell” from the Burlington player as he approached the ball sitting at the 11-meter mark.

“He pointed to the left side of the net like he was going to kick it there. But I guessed that’s where he wanted me to go, so I moved to the right,” said Espelin, who preserved the two goal margin.

During the match, it held the majority of possession and momentum,  Belmont ­– ranked 15th in the Boston Globe pre-season Top 20 poll – jumped into the lead when junior midfielder Seamus Dullaghan tucked in a rebound of a Jake Carson shot with eight minutes left in the first half.

The Marauders doubled its advantage when Andrew Karalis converted a penalty kick four minutes into the second half.

Belmont final score belongs to the highlight reel as Carson scored from beyond 30 meters on a direct free kick midway through the final frame.

Belmont will play its home opener on Friday, Sept. 8 at 3:45 p.m. against Wilmington.

Sports: Belmont Field Hockey Cools Off Lexington, 4-1, as Birthday Girl Leads the Way

Photo: AnnMarie Habelow (center) and Julia Chase (right).

Playing its most complete game of the season, Belmont High Field Hockey swept aside a red-hot Lexington High squad, 4-1, in a critical game for the Middlesex League Liberty championship played under the lights Thursday, Oct. 20, at Harris Field.

Goals by newly-promoted forward sophomore Bridget Gardiner (11 minutes into the game) and junior Alexa Sabatino (midway through the first half) were coupled by a pair in the second half – senior co-captain AnnMarie Habelow at the 21-minute mark and freshman Katie Guden with 8 minutes left – as Belmont controlled the play for long stretches.

A lone goal by Minuteman’s Cecilia Brennan with 7 minutes remaining in the game spoiled goalie’s Christina McLeod shutout. 

“We’re gelling as a team and you saw it tonight as this game was the best of the year,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith. 

“We dominated that entire game. Everyone stepped up against Lexington,” said Habelow, who celebrated her 50th regular season victory over her four varsity seasons. 

“Towards the end of the season, the last five games are our best played because we’re all use to each other,” she said. 

Ranked 12th in the Boston Globe’s Field Hockey poll, Belmont now stands at 12-2-0, handing Lexington (11-4-0, ranked 20th) its fourth overall loss and second defeat to the Marauders this season. Belmont next plays second place Winchester (10-2-2, ranked 5th) – which beat Belmont three weeks ago, 3-1 – in a game that decides whether the Marauders retains an outright title or shares one with Winchester.

The game is at Winchester on Monday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m.

Before the game, Smith made a tactical switch placing freshman forward Guden in the midfield and putting sophomore Gardiner at inside forward. The move allowed Gardiner – who plays ice hockey for Belmont High – to use her physical presence in front of the goal to great effectiveness (her goal came from challenging for the ball and directing it in) while Guden thrived partnering with Habelow and Lilly Devitt developing the offense through the middle.
“That move was phenominal,” said Habelow of the switch. “She’s a natural.” 
Smith said she was most impressed with the team passing throughout the match.
“They are looking to each other that it’s just beautiful to see,” she said. Belmont’s passing was able to release fowards Sabatino, Jordan Leffiere and sophomore Morgan Chase, who used her deft dribbling to weave through the defense to take four in-close shots, only to be robbed twice of certain goals by Lexington’s goalie Abbie Ortyl who was outstanding Wednesday.  

While the victory was highlighted by the outstanding show of skill and work rate by the 11 players, Habelow dominated the action. One day short of her 18th birthday, the two-time Boston Globe All-Scholastic and senior captain – who is committed to play at NCAA Division 1 Top 10 Louisville – demonstrated a level of maturity and polish that, with her innate leadership, saw her control the game’s tempo and direction.

When Lexington – which defeated at the time league-leader Winchester, 2-1, on Monday, Oct. 17 – attempted to use its athleticism to swamp Belmont on the counterbreak, Habelow tracked back to bolster an already steady backline of Molly Goldberg, Meri Powers and defensive stalwart, UNH-commit Julia Chase which Smith called “a wall all night” who put the clamps on Lexington’s senior Emily DeVine

“The thing about AnnMarie is now she’s really fighting to recover back and that’s helping us so much because she’s getting it back. And that helps our whole transition,” said Smith.

On offense, Habelow – who sees double and triple player defenses employed against her – can methodicially move the ball with her stick skills or simply blast the long ball to teammates. An she is more than capable to powerhit a ball from nearly 20 meters into the back of the net.

“I know what it feels like when I put in that extra effort. It’s not a good feeling not playing well so it’s always fun to try as hard as I possibly can,” said Habelow. 

With the Winchester rematch on Monday, Smith said the team is more motivated as the season comes to a close “so I’m hoping from here they keep playing like they did tonight for the rest of the season.”

Sports: Belmont Field Hockey Plays Up To Watertown; And A Goal To Boot

Photo: Belmont goal was the first against a Watertown team in more than a year.

When the final horn sounded to mark the end of the Belmont/Watertown annual field hockey tussle, you’d be hard pressed to tell which side won. 

The visiting Marauders surrounded junior goalie Chrissy McLeod and came off Victory Field smiling and boisterous on the sunny and chilly Monday morning, Oct. 10, while the Red Raiders slowly and quietly marched off to a far end of the Watertown home field to spend 15 minutes in a circle with their coach.

Despite falling, 3-1, to Watertown (12-0-0) that hasn’t lost in nearly 170 matches and has a 120 game winning streak, Belmont (9-2-0) proved a major point against a national powerhouse team – ranked first in Massachusetts and 6th nationally – that traditionally wraps up games in the first 10 minutes: the Marauders can play up to the level and compete on equal terms against one of best teams in the country. 

“We didn’t leave with a win but left with much more confidence, and I think that’s more important in moving the season forward than anything else,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith.

“[This game] shows we can contend with any team. Three, one is not a bad score especially since we were not getting hammered. We were down in their offensive end making plays,” said senior co-captain AnnMarie Habelow.

The highlight for Belmont was sophomore wing Morgan Chase‘s goal with 11 minutes to go in the game, the first tally against Watertown’s goalie Jonna Kennedy in more than a year. 

“We have been scoring a lot of goals, so we expect to score. I wish we could have put more opportunities in the back of the net,” said Smith, who came closest to stopping Watertown’s streak back in 2011 in a 2-1 last minute loss in the Div. 2 North Sectional Finals. 

“It’s always fun to play Watertown, they are the rival team from a neighboring town; both sides have a lot of the same club players on their teams and they know each other. It’s an intense game almost everytime we play them,” said Smith.

Belmont came out the gate looking to press Watertown, and winning the first penalty corner, shot on net and real threat with goalie Kennedy came up hobbling after the first scoring chance of the game as Belmont’s freshman forward Katie Guden could not turn and shot into an open net with players in the scrum. 

“Today we did a great job pressuring them and that made all the difference in the world,” said Smith. 

“I tell the kids, ‘These are just high schoolers. If you pressure them, they’ll make a mistake, so we worked hard on that when we practiced in the rain yesterday,” she said.

In addition, Belmont’s back line of seniors Molly Goldberg, co-captain Julia Chase and both Meri Power and Lilly Devitt played stellar defense.

“We didn’t let them score with fast breaks. We really made them work for it. Last year they just dribbled by us like we were cones. Not this game,” said Smith, complementing the players for moving to the ball “so 50-50 chances were just that.”

After the first five minutes, the game had the feel of a rivalry game with the team’s two standout senior players, Belmont’s AnnMarie Habelow and Watertown’s Kourtney Kennedy (both are verbally committed to Top 10 ranked Division 1 college programs), at times battling each other on the field. 

“It was exhilarating honestly. Any game when it’s so evenly matched teams, you’ll have a real quality match,” said Habelow, who’ll attend Louisville next year. 

The high level of competition also led to players falling – or diving – onto the turf throughout the game.

“It was definitely physical because it’s hometown rivals and those are my favorite kind of games,” said Habelow.

If there was one advantage Watertown had was its penalty corners, where the offense team sets up a play as four defenders and the goalie come out of the net. Belmont was not fortunate that an apparent foot – play is reset when the ball touches any part of the body – was hit on the shot from freshman Ally Kennedy which passed MacLeod to give Watertown a 1-0 lead with six minutes to go in the half. 

Belmont nearly scored in the first three minutes as Habelow outmuscled a ball from Kennedy and rocketed a shot a foot by the post that just missed meeting up with two Belmont players lurking near the net. 

Watertown took a commanding lead just past midway in the half as Kourtney Kennedy scored off consecutive penalty corners, the second goal off a tick-tac-toe passing combination and the third which Julia Chase hit a rising shot with her stick but which trickled back into the net. 

“There’s nothing you can do when it’s a perfect [penalty] corner which was their second goal,” said Smith.

But Belmont was rewarded for its constant pressure with a quick strike goal that came after a mistake from its own penalty corner. Sophomore Jordan Lettiere raced down to gather the loose ball and strike it to Chase who took a snapshot at the net.

“It went out of the circle from the corner and Jordan got it and passed it in(to the scoring circle) and I just got onto the ball and it went in,” said Chase.


The goal brought an explosion of excitement and celebration from Belmont’s side while Watertown stood around wondering what to do next. Finally, Kourtney Kennedy went to her sister to pat her on the back. 

The goal sparked Watertown who once placed all but one of its field players up to take the penalty corner, a manuever usually reserved when a team is down by one than a squad up by two with a few minutes to play. McLeod proceeded to stop to in-close shots with her left pad.

For Smith, the game will be seen as a marker for the rest of the season.  

“The plan now is to win all the games for the rest of the season,” said Smith. Belmont’s next match is at an ever improving Arlington on Friday.

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Sports: After Two Games, Field Hockey Has That Scoring Touch

Photo: Morgan Chase scoring vs. Stoneham.

One hope of Belmont High School Field Hockey Head Coach Jessica Smith’s for the 2016 campaign was the team could be as proficient in scoring as last year’s squad which totaled 91 goals.

After the first two games of the season, Smith can probably check off that box.

Against Melrose and Stoneham, this year’s team has scored a total of 17 goals while giving up just one. And in almost any sport, that’s a darn good ratio.

To be fair, the Marauders’ initial competition comes from the smaller school division of the Middlesex League and haven’t had successful programs for some years (although Stoneham did draw 1-1 in the season opener with Winchester  – a team which defeated Belmont last year and placed second to the Marauders for the division championship) so the numbers may appear gaudy this early in the season.

But it’s not just how many goals Belmont is scoring or how they are scoring them. In the season opener against Melrose, the Marauders as a team were showing end-of-the-season like form in their passing, dribbling and ball placement skills as they topped the Red Raiders 8-0. 

In the game, the playmaking and scoring were not just coming from the two senior all-stars on the team, AnnMarie Habelow, and Julia Chase. In fact, Habelow, a Boston Globe All-Scholastic who will compete for a spot on the US National Under-19 team in November, is not atop the team’s scoring table. That honor currently goes to a freshman, forward Katie Guden, who has tallied five goals to Habelow’s three.

The scoring prowess is a result of some precise ball movement from around the field. At times, Habelow will drive “long balls” – where the player sends the ball nearly the length of the field (about 80 meters) – to a teammate who is racing onto it. But Belmont is as adept moving the ball via passes and dribbling, using their speed on the wings – via sophomore Morgan Chase and Bridget Gardiner – to open room near the goal mouth for attacking players. Also showing great prowess on the ball have been Jordan Letticer and youngster Mia Kalend who has shown great use of her endurance and athleticism in the midfield.

Against Stoneham, Belmont scored from in-close where Guden and junior Alexa Sabatino are deadly accurate and from the 19-yard limit (goals can only be scored from within the attacking semi-circle) which has become Habelow’s bread and butter with the field hockey equivalent of the ice hockey slap shot. Belmont scored eight times in the first half to walk away with a 9-1 win. 

While a good defense is a great offense, Belmont has a great deal of experience on the backline starting with Chase who is committed to UNH next year and Molly Goldberg starting in front of the second-year goalie, Chrissy McLeod.

Preview: Belmont High Field Hockey ‘Never Settle’ [Video]

Photo: This season’s Field Hockey captains: seniors AnnMarie Habelow and Julia Chase.

Season after season, Belmont High School participates in a wide range of MIAA and club sports, which a majority of students participate. But for the most part, the squads are represented by their records or on the scoreboard. 

The Belmontonian will give an opportunity for each team to present their hopes for the fall season ahead. Some are powerhouses, others will be rebuilding. But they all have expectations to build on.

The first team profiled is Field Hockey which is coming off the best regular season in school history last year – 14-2-0 – and a Middlesex League Liberty championship.