Sports: Field Hockey’s Senior Dozen Honored at Final ‘Dry’ Home Game

It was an extraordinary sight at Harris Field Monday night, Oct. 20.

Each of the 11 starters for the Belmont High School Field Hockey squad in its match against Woburn High was a senior, an extremely rare event ever to happen, according to Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith, now in her 11th year coaching the Marauders.

“I had to suspend Olivia [Castagno] to do it,” said Smith of her co-captain, one of a dozen 12th graders on the field Monday.

“Hey, don’t say that!” said Castagno, who is actually injured and forced to the sidelines.

It has become a tradition for Smith to start the final home game with her seniors as part of the “Senior Night” celebration. While technically the Marauders’ actual last regular season match is Wednesday, Oct. 22 against Lexington, the weather Monday was expected to be far more accommodating then midweek when a rain front will stall over Belmont.

Running through a tunnel of sticks held up by the few remaining underclassmen before receiving a bouquet of yellow flowers from Smith and greetings from their family, are:

Bridget Treanor, Hillary Fay, Lauren Noonan, Emma Peiko, Haley Sawyer, Cara Bumcrot, Katheryn Kennedy, Beth Young, Jacqueline Hill, Kate Saylor and co-captains Suzanne Noone and Casagno.

As for the game, Noone provided three assists to lead Belmont to a 5-0 victory to give the Marauders a 10-4-1 record with two games remaining in the regular season. With a pair of wins, Belmont’s final home game could likely be a home playoff match in November.

Sports: Early (Playoff) Decision for Volleyball, Field Hockey

It was a wonderful Wednesday for the Belmont High School Field Hockey and Volleyball squads both secured a place in the post season with wins on Oct. 9.

Continuing their best season in the sports history, Marauder volleyball came back from a two-to-one set deficit to defeat host Burlington High School 3-2 (22-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 15-11).

Belmont Head Coach Jen Couture’s team now stands at 10-3, matching last year’s win total with seven games remaining in the season. 

On Harris Field, the field hockey team scored four times in the final 10 minutes of the game to defeat Wakefield High School 5-0 to raise its record to 8-3-1.

“Every game after this one matters big time. It decides whether we have a home seed in the playoffs or we end up playing at Acton/Boxborough,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith.

Wednesday’s win saw Belmont continue their strong scoring rate – the Marauders’ 4.1 goal per game average is one of the best in Eastern Massachusetts, only trailing powerhouses such as Andover (4.6), Acton/Boxborough (4.8) and Watertown (5.2) – with senior forward Haley Sawyer who scored a hat trick.

“A lot of the time Annie [sophomore midfielder Annmarie Habelow] brought it down the field and I was waiting at the corner and I just there,” Sawyer said.

“We really work well together as a team. They were all team goals,” said Sawyer.

Belmont took a while to get their overall play up to speed, finally taking the lead with eight minutes left in the first half when Sawyer jammed in an initial shot from Olivia Castagno. 

Wakefield started the second half on the front foot, winning two penalty corners and putting a pair of shots on Marauders goalie Kate Saylor. But hard work by Lauren Noonan, playing her best game this season, tracked down numerous Red Raider runners and clogging down passing lanes.

Belmont finally showed its best in the final half of the second, first nearly scoring off four perfectly executed middle-of -the-pitch passes before an infraction was called. The Marauders doubled its lead by a solo effort from Habelow who passes three Red Raiders before hitting a 15 meter backhand slap shot by the Wakefield goalie.

Sawyer got her final two goals, with assists from Habelow and Kate McCarthy, before senior midfielder Suzanne Noone finished the scoring by weaving through defense before firing a shot into the back of the net.

Smith also pointed out Julia Chase for her outstanding play along the wings – “She should have had five assets. What a great game.”

Next up for Belmont is taking on league leader Reading (who beat the Marauders, 4-0, earlier in the season) who comes to Harris Field at 3:30 p.m.



Sports: Field Hockey ‘Just Not Happy’ With 3-1 Win Over Winchester

A minute after walking off the pitch with a 3-1 home victory over a strong Winchester team Monday, Sept. 29, there was a bit of complaining coming from the Belmont High School Field Hockey players.

The grumbling was not about rulings on the field or the actions of the Sachems during the match. The Marauders were grousing about how they had individually performed on Harris Field. They just weren’t playing to a new standard they were setting for themselves.

The complaining left Belmont’s Head Coach Jessica Smith mystified.

“You won the game! That’s all that should matter to you guys,” Smith told her team, currently 6-2-0 for the season with its only two losses to undefeated ranked opposition.

“They dominated the game but they didn’t feel that they did,” Smith told the Belmontonian.

Smith said the players are setting high-performance expectations in every game before them. Part of that comes from a superb performance just two days prior when the Marauders defeated Lexington, 4-2, to secure second place in the league.

“I think they have higher standards for themselves than I have for them, and I love that,” said Smith.

On Monday, Belmont played a strong midfield game led by senior co-captain Suzanne Noone who was tireless running the 70 yards between the attacking and defending striking circles and leading the team with take-away and shots on goal with eight.

“We were connecting a lot more of our passes at Lexington and finishing a lot of our goal chances which we didn’t here,” said Noone.

The Marauders could not have had a more advantageous start with junior forward Kerri Lynch – coming off her hat trick against Lexington – scoring on the first shot of the game at 27:50 off a smart pass from Noone.

Yet despite having several chances inside the circle, “we never seemed to have get the touches on the post where we usually score,” said Smith, who also said a sense of complacency creeped into the overall play “because the players just thought, ‘we’re gonna win’ and that’s what happens when you begin to win a lot.”

Winchester (4-5-0) plugged away for the second part of the first half and scored in close through junior Melissa Zavez.

The visiting Sachems took the game to the Marauders early in the second as the team relied on senior goalkeeper Kate Saylor and the Belmont back line until the offense perked up after five minutes. The Marauders open the field with nice passing and long runs to take control of the match.

Their efforts were reward midway through the second when Noone picked up a rebound off a slapshot from just inside the 15 meter circle to rocket in the goal at 17:50 with an assist going to Olivia Castagno.

“I got a nice hard shot off,” said Noone.

Five minutes later, Belmont finished the scoring with a Beth Young tally at the right post with Kate McCarthy providing the pass.

The Marauders enter their away game Wednesday, Oct. 1 against a strong Wilmington team (4-3-2 with a win against Lexington) with a four-game winning streak.

“I think we’re going to have a very strong rest of the season. The fact that we beat Lexington, one of the best teams in the league, is telling. We certainly are connecting passes so much better than we did last year,” said Noone.



Sports: Lynch Pins Belmont Field Hockey’s Big Win Over Lexington

The collective mindset of Belmont High School Field Hockey was on one salient fact as it took the field against host Lexington on a sunny and hot Saturday morning, Sept. 27.

“We knew this was a big game,” said Belmont’s junior forward Kerri Lynch, as Belmont, Lexington and Winchester were in a logjam for second in the Liberty Division of the Middlesex League behind undefeated Reading Memorial High School.

“This could solidify our place going into the playoffs, so, yeah, it was huge,” said Lynch.

And at the end of the hour of play, Belmont left the pitch with a statement victory as the Marauders put in a pair of second-half goals – both part of Lynch’s first career hat trick – to take down the Minutemen, 4-2, to set their place as a top team in the league.

“My team is awesome,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Jessica Smith after the game.

“So far our wins have been against teams that are under .500. But to show that you’re a good team, you have to beat the really good teams and we just proved it,” Smith told the Belmontonian after the game.

Belmont took the lead just four minutes into the game as Lynch hit her first by rounding Lexington’s goalie and doubled the lead midway through the period with a quick shot from forward Kate McCarthy. Despite being tied up, 2-2, early in the second half, the Marauders went out in front with Lynch’s second tally less than three minutes later.

“Everyone on the field touched the balls that led to our goals. They are stringing passes from the back to our forwards,” said Smith.

The victory was a complete team effort as Belmont won most of the individual battles on the field as they took the game to the Minutemen who defeated the Marauders last year in the first round of the Div. 1 playoffs.

One such match up occurred with 12 minutes remaining in the game with Belmont leading 3-2. A Lexington pass down the Belmont left wing sent a pair of Minutemen towards Belmont goal with senior defender Emma Pejko the last line of defense.

Pejko left the player she was marking to attack the forward baring down on goal. Pejko lowered her stick horizontally to both stop the attack and then, after several seconds of a one-on-one duel down close to the turf, win possession.

“[Pejko] is the smartest player on our team academically and she seems to make the right choices on the field. She cognitively and innately knows what she has to do. That would have been a goal if she had not made that decision,” said Smith, who lavished praise on the back line of Pejko, Lauren Noonan, Molly Thayer and Annemarie Habelow.

“They work very well because they don’t just count on one person and that’s what you need to have a good defense,” Smith told the Belmontonian.

Dominating the midfield was senior stalwart Suzanne Noone who tracked down Lexington’s players attempting to move through the center of the pitch while Habelow, playing a high center defense, was quick to transition the attack with long passes deep in the Minutemen end.

The game’s final goal – which gave Belmont a two-goal cushion with four minutes left in the game – “was just a nice tip that was probably all luck. But they’re always good so we’ll take what we get,” said Lynch.

It’s going to be another tough challenge for the Marauders as they welcome Winchester to Harris Field for a Monday evening game, Sept. 29, at 6 p.m.


Sports: Girls’ Soccer, Field Hockey Back to Their Winning Ways

After stumbles to solid teams in league play, Belmont High School’s Girls’ Soccer and Field Hockey got back on the right foot winning their latest contests against tough completion.

McCarthy’s hat trick paces Field Hockey over Arlington

All Kate McCarthy needs to do is keep her stick to the ground and the ball will find its way into the back of the field hockey goal.

“Having your stick down is really important when you’re a forward,” said the junior forward after scoring her first career hat trick in the final 10 minutes of Friday night’s game, Sept. 19, as the Marauders took the measure of Arlington High, 5-0, at Harris Field.

“I’ve scored before but it was good today,” she said.

“Today she showed me that she can touch the ball in front of the net and you need that in field hockey. A hat trick is spectacular, especially in field hockey,” said Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith

It’s either feast or famine for Belmont (3-2); each of its victories have been via the shutout as the team scored at least five goals; each loss has been 4-0 affairs (although both were to a ranked team.)

After a disappointing loss earlier in the week to 11th-ranked Reading Memorial High School – “Don’t ask,” said Smith – Belmont needed a strong game to get back on their winning ways.

And a pair of veteran varsity players put Belmont out front and kept them there.

Senior midfield stalwart Susanna Noone put the Marauders’ in the lead in a game Belmont had most of the best chances when she scored seven minutes from the end of the first half with an unassisted bullet.

Her fellow senior goalkeeper Kate Saylor kept the SpyPonders at bay when she stopped three breakaways and several shots from the side of the goal.

“If she had let one go in, this is a much different game. It’s great to have a senior back there,” Smith said of Saylor.

For pure field hockey playing pleasure, sophomore standout Annemarie Habelow apparently heard Smith yelling that the team still had 30 seconds to score. She then dribbled by two Arlington midfielders, lost the ball, got it back, took a few steps inside the scoring zone then rocketed a shot passed the goalie with 13 second left in the half.

“Both (Noone and Habelow) are really distributing the ball better and not taking it all on themselves which makes them better players and everyone around them better,” said Smith.

With the game in the balance as Arlington began pushing players forward, McCarthy was in the right place – the right side of the net – and pounced on a loose ball and knocked it in at the 10 minute mark. It didn’t take long for the second – just 64 seconds – and the third came with 4 minutes left to complete her first career hat trick.

McCarthy acknowledged her teammates for getting the ball to her.

“There was really good passing in the midfield. They do a good job getting the ball to the goal,” said McCarthy.

Rough and tumble Saturday matinee as Girls’ Soccer gets by Medford

Harris Field resembled a rodeo arena Saturday afternoon,  as players from Belmont and Medford high school girls’ soccer teams kept falling to the ground as if thrown off a nasty buckin’ bronc. 

While the teams were playing soccer, it was on the physical side as each team challenged for the ball to gain even the slightest advantage.

In the end, Belmont’s tall midfield co-captain senior Lizzie Frick scored the brace to lead the Marauders by the visitors, 3-1, in the matinee.

“We were shaky today; our first touches were not good,” said Paul Graham, Belmont’s head coach after the game.

Frick scored her first goal before most in the crowd got to their seats, ripping in the shot by Medford’s goalkeeper Mary Donnelly after only 130 seconds.

It looked like it could be a run away as sophomore forward Julia Cella slotted in a rebound of a shot from Sophia Eisenbach-Smith that eluded Donnelly at the 34 minute mark in the first.

But Medford has improved as a team since last playing Belmont a year ago, using the speed of their wingers to sneak away for two clear breakaways only to be stopped by great positioning from Belmont senior goalkeeper Linda Herlihy.

But the Mustangs broke through on a wonderful dipping goal by Korey O’Rourke that beat Herlihy at the 26 minute mark.

Frick took her second goal in the 9th minute before the half after a Medford foul 25 meters from goal. Set piece specialist Katrina Rokosz lofted the ball into the box where Frick headed the ball past an on-rushing Donnelly.

The second half was as physical as Belmont has seen this year with knocks handed out for the rough but mostly fair “rough and tumble.” Yet the Marauders controlled the midfield and were not threatened in the final 40 minutes.

Sports: Boys’ Soccer In Tester; Girls’ Soccer, Field Hockey Hit Bumps

The competition level rises and with it changes to Belmont High School Athlete’s seemingly endless winning streaks.

Belmont High School Boys’ Soccer remains undefeated as they defeated a gritty Arlington High School team, 2-1, on Harris Field’s cushiony turf surface Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18.

After playing what Head Coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane called his team’s “the best 15 minutes of soccer this season” to start the game, Belmont (5-0-0) were in a battle for the rest of the contest against the Spy Ponders (3-2-0).

“The guys are excited. While we try to taper expectations, this was a big game for us,” Bisceglia-Kane told the Belmontonian.


Belmont struck twice in the first 11 minutes on quick counter attacks. Just seven minutes in, midfield standout Charlie Frigo outran the Spy Pond back line to head in a bouncing ball from Luke Gallagher past Arlington goaltender Anthony Aggouras.

The Marauders doubled up the score at 11 minutes from Ben Lazenby‘s screamer 20 meters out – coming off an Andrew Eurdolian assist – beating Aggouras to the left post.

After settling down, Arlington took away the Marauders’ momentum by staying close to the ground with short, quick passes resulting in a pretty goal by sub Phineas Santello who dipped a shot over Belmont’s goaltender Peter Berens with five minutes remaining in the half. The goal ended Berens shutout streak to begin the season at 355 minutes.

Despite the lack of scoring in the second half, the match resembled a baseball pitching duel between two aces in which purists would enjoy how the teams attacked and countered their opponents. 

“People watching a game think poorly of a team that’s possessing the ball in their back half they think things are going wrong but that’s something we strive for,” said Bisceglia-Kane, saying it allows the team to work the ball up efficiently and create more scoring chances. 

Belmont also employed a diagonal long pass to quickly switch its attack from one side of the field to the other.

“We’ve been working on that with Gallagher doing it a lot. This game Matt Lawson and Ed Stafford began possessing the ball in the middle of the park then switching the field. Luckily, it paid dividends with one of our goals,” he said,

Five games in and Bisceglia-Kane sees a special characteristic evolving with a team-first mentality, a sort of Belmont Mannschaft.

“They take pride in the fact that they do it together. This team in particular is a group of players that sees themselves as team and not caring about individual statistics or personal achievements and that is one of their strengths,” he said.

Belmont Girls’ suffer first loss at Arlington

Belmont High School Girls’ Head Coach Paul Graham knew that Arlington High’s girls’ soccer team was good this year but did not know just how good.

It turns out the answer, to Graham and his team’s chagrin, is really good.

Belmont visited the Spy Ponders on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18, and was sent home with its first loss of the season, 4-1. Coincidentally, the Marauders’ record stands at 4-1-0.

“You have to give it to them, they’ve got some great players,” said Graham after the game.

Despite losing, Graham was pleased with his team’s effort, saying that Belmont took control of the field for most of the first half and despite the first goal of the game, continued to be Arlington’s equal until a second goal snuck in.

“You could then see the kid’s looking down at their feet,” said Graham.

Graham thought some of the team’s lack of scoring punch – it came into the game with 21 goals – was nerves, heading into a game with an undefeated opponent appeared to bring an air of caution to the team’s play.

“They went back to not shooting the ball,” said Graham.

Only when the game was at 4-0 did the team get its tally with Kristen Gay scoring off a Katrina Rokosz free kick.

Graham said he will not dwell on the loss, taking away only positives from it.

“I think we needed a game like this. Loss the nerves with this one,” said Graham.

Field Hockey falls to Rockets

One word of warning to Belmont High School’s Field Hockey team: stay away from ranked teams.

After falling to the Boston Globe’s number one team Watertown, 4-0, in its opener, Belmont traveled to number 13 Reading Memorial High School and came home with a 4-0 loss on Wednesday, Sept, 17.

Belmont Field Hockey Overwhelms Second Visiting Team

Belmont High School Field Hockey Head Coach Jessica Smith is never one who wants to pile on the score line.

“I feel so terrible,” said Smith as the team was ahead 6-0 with a minute left to play … in the first half of the Marauders game against visiting Stoneham High School on Friday, Sept. 12.

“I’m not that type of coach but what can I tell my team? Not shot?” she said, pulling off veterans to allow substitutes to play long stretches of the game.

By the end of a long day – the game started 45 minutes late due to travel problems for Stoneham – Belmont would score a pair of second half goals to win 8-0, creating a nice bookend for the week as the Marauders drubbed Melrose 7-0 on Tuesday.

“Two big scoring victories with lots of players getting goals but just as important, everyone got to play,” said Smith.

Kerri Lynch and the team’s midfield leader, senior Suzanne Noone, scored twice while starters sophomore Annemarie Habelow and Jacqueline Hill scored a goal each. Tallying goals off the bench were Kate McArthy and Hillary Fay. GoalieKate Saylor and Nicole Crowley shared the clean sheet. 

“Gosh, this is a great team. We really don’t have a weak spot anywhere on the field and I have really good subs that I can put in who have been scoring and other good stuff on the field. It’s like I have a second layer in some positions,” said Smith.

And while the Marauders have put in 15 goals over the past two games, Belmont will be meeting teams with greater skills and talented players. On Wednesday, Sept. 17, the team travels to Reading Memorial High School, a team that “is always very hard. It’s a game that you really want to win and it’s hard every single time and it’s never easy,” said Smith.



Belmont Field Hockey Rebounds Past Melrose

The first two games of the 2014 seasons has been like night and day for the Belmont High School Field Hockey team.

It was like night when the Marauders visited defending state champions (and undefeated for more than four years) Watertown High in the season opener last Friday as the Red Raiders kept the Marauders in the dark on how to break down the four-time consecutive state champs, losing 4-0..

On Wednesday, Sept. 10, the light was back on for Belmont as they celebrated playing on their newly-renovated turf field for the first time with a convincing 7-0 drubbing of Melrose High on a cool night, Sept. 10.

Where Belmont was sputtering at times against Watertown, the team – and especially the offense – was playing with all cylinders running as six players scored and everyone played.

“Things that we have been hoping would occur actually did,” said Head Coach Jessica Smith.

“I was looking for Suzanne [Noone] and Annemarie [Habelow] to work well together and they did,” said Smith pointing to the most impressive goal of the night when the senior midfielder Noone fed the high-scoring sophomore Habelow a picture perfect pass into the attacking circle that the talented 10th grader buried in the back of the net from distance.

“I’m picturing that play many times this season,” joked Smith.

Yet Smith said the win was impressive because everyone played with “a real drive” after the first-game loss.

And that determination led to a battery of goals from a slew of players. Habelow scored twice with fellow starters Noone, Kerri Lynch and Julia Chase picking up one each while subs Jacqueline Hill and Kate McCarthy each got their first goals of the season.

Senior goalkeeper Kate Saylor shared the clean sheet with backup Nicole Crowley who kicked out a breakaway attempt late in the game to preserve the shutout.

With the midfield, led by varsity veteran Noone, communicating and working together better and the defense, backstopped by Lauren Noonan and Emma Pejko, being more assertive and confidence, the team “is showing they can compete.”

“But there are a lot of teams between Watertown and Melrose in talent so I want to see how we handle teams in the middle of the group,” said Smith.

Belmont Field Hockey Battles Watertown Tough in Opening Game

Belmont High School Field Hockey Head Coach Jessica Smith said she preferred to play a strong team to begin the season “as a way to know early where we stand.”

On Friday, Sept. 7, on one of the hottest days of the summer, you couldn’t select a tougher challenge: playing the four-time consecutive state champions, Watertown High School, at their home ground at Victory Field.

(Oh, by the way, Watertown hasn’t lost a game in the past four years.)

And while Belmont kept the game close for three-quarters of the game, three goals – including a penalty shot – in the final 16 minutes resulted in a 4-0 loss giving the Belmont squad an outstanding team to compare to during the season.

“Now I see what we need to work on,” said Smith after the game.

Despite the score, Smith was encouraged with the team’s play and growing composure against the Red Raiders playing on an artificial field where the temperature reached three digits.

“Coming into the game, I thought we could look like cones on the field, but we didn’t. We were a true opponent. We made them play hard,” said Smith.

“We are great at making the transition from defense to midfield but when it goes to the offense, we slam on the brakes,” due to a very young offensive line, said Smith, who is entering her 11th year leading the Marauders

“Coming into your first game against Watertown is tough, they had to be a little shocked as they do a lot more in practice. But they held it together well,” she said.

The most dominate player on the hot turf Friday afternoon was Belmont’s sophomore leader Annemarie Habelow, who moved from her familiar role in the attack – she led Belmont in scoring last year in her freshman campaign – to the center back position. Her dominate stick skills deadened Watertown’s attack in the middle of the field, forcing it to play the wings that Belmont mostly contained by sending multiple players on the Red Raiders attackers.

“She is by far the most poised player on the field today. She has such a set of free hits, she conceptionally knows where to put the ball, and she’s a great leader,” said Smith.

As for the remainder of the season – the first with Belmont in Division 1 – Smith believes her team will grow as a team through the season, especially upfront.

“Let’s hope [Watertown] is the toughest team we meet this year. We are meeting teams in the next weeks that haven’t had great records recently so it will be a great chance to practice things,” said Smith, who took her team to the playoffs last year.

The Week Ahead: School Starts Wednesday, Belmont v. Watertown in Field Hockey Friday

 Yoga for everyone at the Beech Street Center on Tuesday, Sept. 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.: join Susan Harris, a registered yoga teacher and associate professor of Nutrition at Tufts University for this Iyengar-inspired class which practices yoga postures slowly and with attention to alignment and safety, adapted to the abilities and needs of individual students. Practice is done with bare feet; mats and props are provided. Cost: $15/class. Non-seniors, beginners and experienced are welcome. This is a non-Council on Aging class held at the Beech Street Center. For more information, call Susan at 617-407-0816.

• The Belmont School District opens for the 2014-15 academic year on Wednesday, Sept. 3 for students in 1st through 12th grade; the kindergarteners get another week off.

Sustainable Belmont – helping the town become an environmentally responsible community – will be meeting at the Belmont Public Library on Wednesday, Sept. 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to discuss Belmont Light’s proposed changes to distributed generation, also known as the solar tariff. Members active on the Energy Working Group will present information on the proposed changes and discuss alternative options for the tariff.

• The fall sports season gets underway on the first day of classes as defending Middlesex League champions the Belmont High School Boys’ Golf team host Andover at Belmont Country Club at 3:30 p.m. while Volleyball heads to Waltham for a non-league start to their campaign to return to the playoffs.

• A meeting of the Friends of the Belmont Public Library will be held on Thursday, Sept. 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Assembly Room. 

• Do yourself a favor and head over to Watertown’s Victory Field on Friday, Sept. 5 as Belmont High School Field Hockey visits four-consecutive Div. 2 state champions Watertown High School at 3:30 p.m. This generation of Marauders will battle toe-to-toe with the Red Raiders; expect the unexpected.