Belmont High Field Hockey On Five Game Tear Highlighted By Shutout Over Lexington

Photo: Belmont High midfielder Lola Rocci (number 4) in action against Lexington

There’s always a game during the season a team can point where everything comes together: defense, passing and scoring. For the Belmont High Field Hockey squad, that game came on Friday, Sept. 30 when the Marauders’ outclassed a solid Lexington team, 3-0, to earn its first clean sheet of the season and move ever closer to a top playoff spot.

“This is a great confidence builder,” said Belmont Head Coach Jess Smith after a game which her squad dominated all aspects of the game from winning the 50/50 challenges to clogging up the passing lanes and preventing shots on Belmont keeper Julia Herilihy who earned the shut out, the first of two this week as Belmont held Burlington scoreless in a 2-0 victory Thursday, Oct. 6.

The team was especially impressive in their passing game both coming out from the defensive position and on the attack.

“They are learning where each other are on the field and they’re moving to the right places and staying wide. They are trusting each other and it’s really coming together. It’s the best I’ve seen them play,” said Smith after the game.

After an early season bump in the road – that will happen battling three undefeated teams (Watertown, Winchester, Reading) over six days – Belmont High has reached mid-season on a five-game winning streak. The 7-3 Marauders’ are currently ranked 12th in the MIAA state Division 1 standings, its highest ever position in the power ranking era and have matched the number of victories last season.

The Minutemen came to Harris Field on Thursday, Sept. 30 riding their own impressive wave, topping previously unbeaten and top 20-ranked Winchester, 1-0, two days before. Led by sophomore Hannah Ward, the Minutemen attempted to have their star midfielder dictate the middle of the field using her stick skills and speed. But Belmont countered with tight man-on-man coverage that hampered the Minutemen offense.

Belmont found success on the right wing with the Devin Kelleher/Carly Gaziano partnership clicking with passes that caused Lexington trouble through out the match. In the middle of the pitch, freshman midfielder MacKenzie Clark showed her growing confidence in “quarterbacking” the offense in the middle with senior attack Mary Mullan her main target.

It was a stroke of creativity by Clark that broke open the scoring late in the opening quarter. Finding herself heading straight to the goal, rather than striking the ball on the ground, Clark lifted it with a soft flip shot high into the net with 90 seconds remaining in the quarter.

“MacKenzie is figuring out her role on our team and feeling more comfortable there. She’s playing a bigger part in every game with play,” said Smith.

The second 15 minutes was all Marauders as the midfield and defense kept the Minutemen outside the attack zone while opening the field for Belmont’s counters. The Marauders’ second tally was right out of the training field with Kelleher’s cross deep on the right side finding Gaziano rushing in to steer the ball off the post and into the net six minutes into the quarter. Belmont wrapped up the scoring with Gaziano stroking a shot from a scrum out front with 2:44 left in the half.

For the final 30 minutes, Belmont was never challenged with the defense led by senior Alex Townsend holding down the center of the defensive pitch. Smith pointed to the play of midfielder Lola Rocci, “an offensive player who comes back on defense and makes great plays like connecting with Kelleher and Gaziano or make a great run with the ball,” said Smith.

Rocci said that with each game, the players have become more discipline in how they position themselves on the pitch.

“I think we have more awareness in the field. I feel like I know where Devin, MacKenzie and Mary are going to be when I have the ball or when they are looking to pass. And that is making us a better team,” she said.

Hoops: Both Marauder Squads Stumble In Visit To Lexington

Photo: Tyler Arno throwing up a three against Winchester.

It was a frustrating start to the holiday weekend for the Belmont High boys and girls basketball teams as their visits to cross border rivals Lexington on Friday, Jan. 14 as both teams came home nursing one-sided losses to the Minutemen.

Belmont High Girls’ came to the contest to halt both a scoring drought and losing streak which the Marauders averaged just 26 points vs Watertown and Woburn.

Belmont’s attempt to run its offense through the paint was hampered by a strong Lexington perimeter defense that produced several steals and Marauder miscues. While Belmont preferred to work inside, Lexington showed no such disinclination shooting from downtown, hitting nine threes while the Marauders came up blank from beyond the arc.

And it didn’t help that Belmont’s biggest bugaboo was going to the free throw line where the Marauders went 11 for 27, leaving 16 valuable points on the floor.

The game didn’t start well as the Marauders fell behind 7-0 after about 70 seconds before Sophie McDevitt buried two from the charity stripe. After cutting the lead to three, 7-4, on a Mia Ferrari, long two point jumper, Lexington scored twice off steals to finish the quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 16-6 lead entering the second. The Minutemen stretched the advantage throwing in a trio of threes in two minutes to up the lead to 28-12 midway through the frame before Belmont scored the final five points with Cortney Howell nailing a fall away two at the buzzer to end the half trailing 28-17.

Belmont came out strong in the third cutting the Minutemen’ advantage to seven points with a Ferrari jumper. But the Minutemen responded with two threes and a bucket while Belmont missed three of four free throws to restore a double digit lead, 36-21, before extending it to 44-28 entering the final quarter And while the Marauders did go 5 for 8 from the free throw line in the final quarter, Lexington was never threatened as it won by 18, 55-37.

Belmont currently sits at 3-7 over all and 3-5 in the league.

It was showtime as the Lexington boys’ literally running away from Belmont High Boys’ Hoops early to take home a rather sloppy 75-49 win in the second game of the doubleheader. Lexington’s speed, physicality on offense and defense and their touch from outside proved too much for a Marauders team that simply couldn’t keep up with the hosts.

Not that the Minutemen didn’t give Belmont opportunities to take control of the game as Lexington players, especially in the first half, were more than happy to turn the ball over in attempts at the spectacular – they had more failed dipsy-dos then the returns department at the dipsy-do factory – when a jumper or pass would have sufficed.

While Lexington’s haphazard playing allowed Belmont a sniff at getting back into the game, the Marauders’ couldn’t get out of their own way; in one sequence down by ten, Belmont committed a pair of traveling violations and an offensive foul in three trips up the court while Lexington scored on each turnover..

Belmont did come out with a hot hand from distance with Donovan Holway hitting the first basket for a three and senor guard Tyler Arno going two for three from the arc to keep the deficit to seven early in the second quarter, 18-11. But Lexington’s League MVP candidate CJ Cox was not going to be stopped by Belmont, hitting from outside (3 for 4 from three point range in the first 10 minutes) before finishing off a fast break with a dunk to stretch the host’s advantage to 18 (29-11) just two minutes into the second quarter. At half time, Belmont was down by 17, 38-21.

For the remainder of the game, Belmont could only match basket for basket only to be victimized by Lexington’s quick hands defense and downtown shooting. After three quarters, Minutemen shot 10 for 19 from three compared to Belmont’s 4 for 11.

Belmont sits at .500 both in the Middlesex League 4-4 and overall 5-5 with a visit from Wakefield next.

Belmont High Defense In The Spotlight As Football Overpowers Lexington, 14-3; SpyPonders Await

Photo: Belmont High Jr. Asa Rosenmeier in action vs. Lextington

Belmont High’s defense coordinator Dave Pereira had seen enough.

With 6:35 left in the second quarter, Belmont called a time out. While being up 14-0 on a pair of first quarter touchdowns, the Belmont defense had just allowed Lexington High’s run oriented offense to convert a third and long and a fourth down play on their side of the 50 and had just picked up 12 yards to Belmont’s 31 on a handoff that looked stopped dead at the line of scrimmage.

Whether it was to convey his considerable displeasure at the performance of his charges during the series – it was – or to encourage the team to step up the intensity it showed during the previous times on the field – less so – Pereira was providing a good, old timey tongue lashing to get his point across. “Do your jobs” was the sentiment from the long-time leader of the defense 11.

And Pereira’s “urging” worked. After stuffing three consecutive runs, Belmont’s sophomore defensive stalwart Max Cornelius sacked the Minuteman quarterback for a ten yard loss on fourth down which sent the Marauders’ DC out on the pitch, this time with loving praise for his men.

The defense would proceed to stop Lexington twice inside the Belmont 10 yard line in the third quarter as the Marauders’ took down the Minutemen, 14-3, under the Friday Night Lights of Harris Field. Belmont is now staring at a 4-2 record with a trip to bordering Arlington on Friday, Oct. 22 to take on the SpyPonders for a chance to climb up the MIAA Power Rankings and closer to a playoff spot.

“That was the most complete game of defense we’ve played in a long, long time,” Pereira told the team after the game. “The secondary was locked on the way through, linebackers were aggressive and the defensive line except for a couple of times … didn’t fly up field!”

“The defense played a hell of a game, recovering a fumble, you guys came through,” said first year Head Coach Brian McCray, pointing to the two times Lexington entered the red zone inside Belmont’s 20 yard line.

“What I saw last year and at the beginning of this year, you would have folded and have given up the touchdowns. You guys are maturing as defensive football players and that’s what we’ll need to be when we face the bigger teams,” said McCray.

The game’s keystone in the defense’s arch was senior defensive back John Dolan, who hung over the Minutemen receivers like a grandmother’s winter drapes while providing birddog pursuit on running plays. As Lexington was driving downfield to answer Belmont’s opening TD, number 11 torpedoed into the Minutemen backfield to not break up or destroy the attempted sweep, but obliterated the play for a six yard loss leading to a subsequent punt.

“This defense has been showing up all year which I have to give a lot to the coaching,” said Dolan. “In practice we are replicating [the opponents] offense. So I knew exactly what to expect whey they pass and run.”

When asked if the Marauders should be respected for its defense, Dolan nodded. “I mean, we love defense. I love defense. I know all my boys do also.”

“Honestly, without Johnny Dolan, I don’t know if we could do this,” said Pereira. “That kid has worked for years to get here, paid his dues and it’s his time and he’s playing great.”

Belmont did enough early to give the Marauders enough of a cushion to take home the victory. On Belmont’s first possession of the game, sophomore quarterback Jayden Arno found this brother, senior wide receiver Tyler, all alone on a busted coverage and the siblings played throw and catch for the easiest 56 yard touchdown of the season. The second time the Marauders handled the ball, it took them three plays to travel 70 yards with sophomore running back Adrien Gurung taking it the final 20 yards on a stop and go burst over the right hand side to give Belmont a 14-0 lead at the 3:48 mark of the first quarter.

Unlike the previous week when Belmont piled on 41 points against Winchester, this game saw Jayden Arno play more like a 15 year old as his passes were just off the mark, including over throwing two wide open receiver that each would have gone for certain 6s.

But the Belmont defense would take the two touchdown advantage and keep it under wraps with a solid demonstration of containment football. When Lexington ventured to the Belmont five yard line in the eighth minute of the third quarter, the defensive front four did not allow the Minutemen a yard over three plays. On fourth down, senior Zach Moss pressured the quarterback into an intentional grounding and senior Gordon Lasseter defended the subsequent end zone pass to prevent a score.

The Minutemen were right back knocking at the door with a third down and five at Belmont’s nine yard line when that man Dolan tackled the Lexington running back for a three yard loss, resulting in the Minutemen scoring their only points of the night with a field goal at 2:42 left in the quarter.

For the rest of the third and through most of the fourth, Belmont set forth to eat as much time as they could with Gurung doing the grunt work of running into the middle of the offensive line time and time again. It was just a matter of running out those final 15 odd minutes to secure the “W”.

After the game as he greeted parents, Pereira said the program has been working for years “to get to this point.”

“Actually, I don’t do that much, it’s the kids and they’re awesome,” he said, calling out Moss for quarterbacking the defense and Cornelius who he called “amazing.”

“He’s never played football before and here he is. He comes out and learns and he’s becoming a leader with this team,” said one very proud coach.

Soccer: Girls’ Hang On For 3-2 Win In Season Opener; Boys’ Looking For Offense In Shutout Loss

Photo: Belmont High’s Katelyn Sawyer (9) and Grace Kane (3) in action against Lexington

Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ Soccer squads got their respective seasons underway this past weekend.

Girls’: Belmont Hangs On To Secure Opener Victory

The Belmont High Marauders showed what a senior laden team can do best as it took maximum advantage of the opportunities given them to take home a 3-2 opening day victory against the host Lexington High Minutemen.

“I’m happy with the results because we lost twice of them last year. So that was a big one for us,” said of Belmont’s long time head coach Paul Graham.

The senior strike partnership of Kiki Christofori and Jenna Thomas joined sophomore midfielder Kiley Meringer with goals in the inaugural game of the shortened 10-game season.

Christofori scored midway though the first quarter off a hard shot that hit the Minuteman goalie’s shoulder and bounced in. Meringer lofted a floater that caught the goalie off her line and settled in at the 7:30 mark of the second quarter. Thomas slotted a shot that snuck into the net five minutes into the third to give Belmont a 3-0 lead.

It turned out that each goal was needed as the Minutemen grew stronger – they hit the crossbar twice in the game – as the game progressed led by its talented junior forward Kirsty Carnan who was a handful for the Marauders backline, a group that won Graham’s praise.

“I have to say my four defenders really played well, Graham said describing the workrate of sophomore Sabrina Spalls, senior Grace Kane – who moved from the midfield – and returning stalwarts junior Ally Landers and senior Ashley Green.

“You know they were very very strong, they’re tough to beat up,” said Graham who acknowledged senior Rachel November was a standout controlling the middle of the field.

Senior Abbie Moran kept a clean sheet in the first two quarters with a fine stop of a Carnan shot on her near side post. Junior Bridget Martin was busy for the entire second half giving up a Carnan goal in the final minute of the game to cut the margin of victory to one.

Belmont will host Lexington this Saturday, Oct. 11 at Harris Field at 4 p.m.

Boys’ Lacked Punch On The O Side Of The Ball Falling 2-0

While it was perfect fall weather to play a game – sunny in the upper 60s – it was a frustrating game for the Belmont High Boys Soccer as a lack of offense punch left the Marauders empty handed on the scoresheet falling to Lexington High Minutemen, 2-0, in the home and season opener on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Harris Field.

While Belmont’s midfielders and defenders kept the Minutemen at bay for the first two quarters, the Marauders – under new head coach Jean M Carlone Laforgue – couldn’t find the right combination of passes that would spring their forwards for clear shots.

Senior midfielder Ali Noorouzi had Belmont best chance when, in the second quarter, he ran onto a probing pass to the right of goal but couldn’t lift the ball over the on rushing goalie.

Noorouzi was Belmont’s Man of the Match whose work rate allowed the Marauders to hold the majority of possession in the first half. Senior center back Lars Gustav Bauerle controlled the turf in front of junior goalie Damon Reyes. Up front, senior forward Will Kivalatitu was the most threatening to the Minutemen backline.

Lexington where able to end the stalemate at 14:20 in the third through senior Lynn Jueppner from junior Eric Edmonds on a nice build up on the left wing. The same combination hit in the fourth as Jueppner got the brace from a strike in close between a pair of Belmont defenders at 14:26 in the fourth.

The remainder of the game saw Belmont attempting to find a way around a Lexington team packing the middle with little to show for their attempts.

Belmont visits Lexington at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10.

High On The Hogs: Linemen Propel Marauders To First Win With Victory Over Lex

Photo: Belmont High’s Senior RB Chad Francis romps for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns including this from 34 yards.

All hail the hogs! Will Shelley, Reid Carlson, Ryan Hoffman, Brett Westgate, Isaiah Gullage, Andrew Kwon, Matt Crisafi and Derrick Brown.

As a nor’easter swept over Harris Field, the Belmont High Marauders’ relied on its big experienced linemen on both sides of the ball to secure the program’s first victory of the season, 28-12, against the Lexington High Minutemen in front of a small, but dedicated group of fans under the wet and windy Friday night lights, Oct. 11.

“I’m just so proud of these guys and the coaches. We’ve never quit believing in what we have here,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin whose team stands at 1-3. “We kept saying that there’s a lot of football left to play.”

The offensive line created lanes along the edge for senior RB Chad Francis to romp for 233 yards on 28 carries and a pair of long (34 and 53 yards) second quarter touchdowns. The dominance of the “O” line was evident in the third quarter as Belmont held the ball for nine minutes on the first drive of the second half.

“We took a long look at what they were doing defensively and all of a sudden we said the Lexington defense looks a lot like Medford defense from [2016]” against which Belmont’s Ben Jones set a school record of 334 yards in the ’16 season opener.

The coaching staff installed a two-back formation and “simplified the blocking for the Hoggies and we got them going,” said Kumin as the team rushed for 311 yards.

But it was on defense that Belmont showed its class, shutting out for three quarters a Lexington offense which scored 56 against Arlington the week previous. Belmont defense would register eight sacks (led by Brown who was a terror in the first half) a fumble recovery (after a strip of Minuteman QB Nick Perez by junior Brennen Westgate) and an interception in the end zone at the end of the first half by senior Justin Rocha.

“We have been in games against tough opponents for the last two weeks,” said “Q.” “We knew that if we played physical defense that we were going to be able to put a stop to the Minuteman offense.”

“The entire defense did a great job from the line to the [defensive backs],” said Kumin, noting the play of senior linebacker Ryan Santoro who got into the Minuteman backfield to disrupt several plays.

Belmont started the scoring with senior RB Cedrick Toussaint sprinting over the left end for a 24 yard touchdown with 1:35 left in the first quarter.

Up 21-0 at the half, Belmont’s final scoring drive was highlighted by a 49 yard run by sophomore Tyler Arno who took the handoff from QB (and older brother) Avery Arno and raced down the left side to the Lexington 1 yard line.

“We call him “Baby Arno” so when he went on the run, I just couldn’t look because it made me so nervous,” said Kumin.

Santoro would finish the drive with a one yard plunge.

While Lexington would reach the end zone twice – including an 85-yard kickoff return by Mason Hatfield immediately after Belmont’s final score – but the game wasn’t much in doubt after Hoffman and Kwon sacked as the Marauder offense would run out the clock in the final four minutes.

Belmont is on the road on Friday, Oct. 18 to play a one-win Arlington team.

But “Q” is not looking past the SpyPonders.

“Any opponent on any given week, we have to do our job to beat them. I don’t care what the record says.”

Unbeaten Belmont Field Hockey ‘Keepers Stand Tall In Tie With Ranked Lexington

Photo: (from left) Belmont’s Sajni Sheth-Voss, Emma Donahue, Kendall Whalen, Katie Guden and Meaghan Noone defending a penalty corner in Belmont’s 1-1 draw with Lexington.

With time running down in Saturday’s matinee against Lexington, Belmont High Field Hockey junior goalie Kendall Whalen was taken by surprise when what appeared to be a routine long clearing ball by a Minuteman defender turned out to be anything but ordinary.

Just before the ball was hit, a Lexington forward had drifted behind the Marauders’ defense. She took the clearance and had a clean breakaway with only Whalen between her and a go-ahead goal.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my god. It’s tied and I have to save this’,” Whalen said after the game.

Belmont’s Molly Dacey out battles a Lexington defender for the ball.

While only in her third game ever as a field hockey goalie, Whalen has a great deal of experience in net having come off an impressive 2019 lacrosse season keeping goal for Belmont, and one of the main reasons the Marauders nail down its first playoff appearance in seven years.

“[Lacrosse] really helped to understand where I need to be positioned and when to step up or when to hold back,” said Whalen.

So when the Minuteman player fired a low shot just to her left, Whalen had already reacted and got a boot on the ball to steer it wide of the net.

“I went for it, cut off her angle which rushed her shot which I cleared,” said Whalen who along with senior goalie Molly Calkin secured Belmont’s 1-1 “kiss your cousin” tie with the Minutemen (2-1-1) ranked 8th in the Boston Globe Top 20.

Belmont’s midfielder Mia Mueller.

The goaltending pairing – each plays a half in the games – has worked well for each, said Calkin a returning varsity player who stopped three inclose scoring changes with a new aggressive style.

“During practice, Kendall challenges me to play well and do stuff that I hadn’t done last year,” she said. “I think last year, I kind of lacked confidence that I should have had. This year, I’m taking a different approach and claim what’s mine in front of the net.”

Saturday’s game saw Belmont (2-0-1) never quite shifting its play into top gear as it showed against Stoneham and Melrose. For Belmont Head Coach Jessica Smith, the blame can be laid at the feet of the schedulers.

“Saturday games seems to take us all out of our routine. They don’t go to school, do their homework and prepare the same way. It’s like they’re not as focused as they are during the week,” said Smith.

After falling behind 1-0 on the first shot on Belmont’s net this season five minutes into the game, the Marauders slowly regained control of the offense thorugh the midfield led by senior co-captains Katie Guden and Emma Donahue while fellow senior Meaghan Noone who acted like a Hoover along the backline.

Belmont’s Katie Guden (14) shots towards Emma O’Donovan who redirected the ball into the net for the Marauders’ goal.

Belmont broke through with just under five minutes remaining in the opening half on a sweet combination of passes as sophomore Mia Mueller pushed the ball to Guden who sent a rocket towards junior Emma O’Donovan stationed in front of the goalie. O’Donovan redirected the airborne ball into the open left side of the net, scoring her fifth goal of the young season.

Belmont had its chances throughout the game including when a long strike outside the attacking circle hit the post and ricocheted towards a streaking O’Donovan who was just beaten out to the ball by the goalie. And it appeared that Belmont had scored a potential game winner with about six minutes remaining but an official did not allow play to continue after a minor infraction which the rules state but rather forced a restart nullifying what should have been O’Donovan’s second.

Ellie McLaughlin (16) and Emma O’Donovan bottle up Lexington all-star Katie Devine.

Belmont midfielders did a great job of bottling up Lexington’s star junior Katie Devine to prevent the league all-star from sending shots into the attacking zone while each of Belmont’s four sophomores – Molly Dacey, Ellie McLaughlin, Sajni Sheth-Voss and Mueller – played significant minutes with solid results.

“I’ll take a tie after the team played so poorly,” said Smith.

Belmont 2, Melrose 0

Earlier in the week, Belmont opened its home account with a solid 2-0 victory over Melrose on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

The scoring breakthrough came late in the first half off a penalty corner as McLaughlin gathered a rebound to the left of the goal and send a pass that snuck by to the right post where Noone stuffed the ball in. And fellow senior forward Nuritza Diarbakerly scored her first varsity goal with a tap in along the right post late in the second half.

Meaghan. Noone (22) scores the opening goal against Melrose.

“We definitely needed another goal so we had to be more confident because we didn’t want this to end in a tie,” said Diarbakerly.

Belmont will be on the road Tuesday, Sept. 17, against the current Middlesex League leaders Winchester (4-0-0) ranked 6th by the Globe before hosting Reading on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. at Harris Field.

Solid Victories For Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Over Lexington

Photo: Belmont High’s Megan Tan (33) was high scorer with 14 points vs. Lexington.

It was a pair of solid victories for Belmont High’s hoopsters as the Boys’ and Girls’ remain undefeated in Middlesex Liberty league play as they begin their stretch runs to the tournament.

Whatever head coach Adam Pritchard told his team at halftime, he should keep doing so as Belmont’s boys’ basketball team went on a tear in the third quarter to secure its win over visiting Lexington, 91-73, in the opener of Friday night’s doubleheader, Jan 25.

While Lexington (9-4) gave Belmont a match in the first encounter in December – the game which Danny Yardemian broke the school’s single-game scoring record with 46 points – the Marauders (12-1) appeared in control on both ends of the court. Pritchard took out his starters shortly after the game started and put out his role players who kept the Minutemen at bay with sophomore Preston Jackson-Stephens and senior Jake Herlihy combined for three consecutive blocks that transitioned into a Jackson-Stephens bucket. Belmont ended the opening quarter up 18-15 as senior Matt Wu hit a 15-foot line drive buzzer beater off a miss.

Despite having the Belmont starters back on the court, Lexington took the lead, 27-25, off a 3 from senior Dante Ortiz and held it at 31-30 with 2:30 left in the half. But a pair of steals by senior Ben Sseruwagi leading to baskets by himself and junior Mac Annus (12 points in the half, 20 for the game) gave the Marauders the lead 34-31 followed by two more thefts and baskets ending with a 3 by sophomore Tim Minicozzi to finish off a 13-4 run to give Belmont a 43-36 margin at the end of two quarters.

Coming out of the break, Yardemian sprung into action scoring eight points (a bucket and free throw, an NBA 3, and a classic drive to the hoop) in the first three minutes to hike the lead up to 56-47, followed up by Yardemian and senior center Dan Seraderian dominating the inside as Belmont went on a 21-6 sprint to the finish of the quarter, as the Marauders scored 34 third-quarter points with Yardemian (ending with a game-high 31) contributing 16 points to end the third up 77-53.

After a slow start, the Belmont Girls used its trademark half-court press defense (limiting opponents to 33 points per game) to spark a flurry of 3s from a senior leader to a 57-33 win to remain undefeated at 12-0.

As both teams had limited play over the week due to exam week, the girls’ contest needed to shake the rust off in the first quarter – it was scoreless after more than four minutes – when four-year varsity player Megan Tan took her game to the outside, hitting two 3s as senior center Jess Giorgio (9 points, five rebounds, 2 blocks) was able to score inside while quarterbacking the press defense that kept the Minutemen to six points in the quarter.

Leading 12-6 at the start of the second, the Marauders doubled its score and the lead (25-14 at the end of the half) by going beyond the arc with Giorgio and Tan (two more from distance to end as game-high scorer with 14 points) leading the charge while Maiya Bergdorf and off the bench sophomore center Emma McDevitt (2 points) took control under the basket.

With the Minutemen needing to spread the court to find some outside shots, Belmont found its own opportunities as Bergdorf (12 points, 10 in the quarter) and freshman guard Nina Minicozzi (13 points) scored all of Belmont’s 19 in the quarter, nine points coming from downtown with Bergdorf connecting twice from beyond the 19′ 3/4” line.

With its press continuing to clamp down on the Lexington offense, limiting the Minutemen to six over eight minutes to lead 44-20, Belmont was able to turn to its bench early with sophomores Kiki Christofori (2 points) and Reese Sharpazian (2 points), Abby Morin (1 point) and senior center Ella Gagnon (a putback two in the paint) all contributing. 

Girls Tourney Bound: Soccer, Field Hockey, Volleyball Earn Tickets To Postseason [VIDEO]

Photo: Belmont High Girls Soccer, pictured below are securing another trip to the Division 2 North playoffs.

It was quite a week for three of Belmont High girls’ fall season teams as each secured playoff spots in the coming state MIAA tournament.

Within a few minutes of each other on Monday, Oct. 8, Girls’ Soccer and Field Hockey punched their tickets to the postseason while Volleyball completed its task on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

After a pair of losses – a heartbreaker, 3-2, at Woburn after leading 2-0 at the half and a 4-0 rout at Winchester – left the team at 2-2-1 early in the season, Girls’ Soccer has rattled off five straight wins including a 3-1 home victory on Columbus Day to see its season extended. While not raking up the goals, the Marauders have been efficient in their games, using senior center forward Ella Gagnon as the cornerstone of the offense with speedsters senior Morgan Krauss and youngster Jenna Thomas (a pair of hat-tricks for the sophomore) creating opportunities on the wings. 

Since clinching the playoffs, Belmont took its revenge on Woburn, defeating the Tanners, 2-1, on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to extend its winning streak to seven and currently in second place in the Middlesex Liberty division with a 9-2-1 record. They will take on Lexington on Tuesday, Oct. 16 before meeting up with league leader Winchester at home on Thursday, Oct. 18.

Field Hockey came into its annual match with perennial Division 2 state champions Watertown on a seven-game winning streak. The night game on Oct. held at Belmont’s Harris Field saw the Marauders come out and controlled the match, dominating possession, especially in the second half, ending the game with 11 shots on goal and a 13 to 1 margin in penalty corners. The one area they didn’t hold an advantage over Watertown was on the scoreboard as the Raiders tallied on both of their two shots of the game in a two-minute stretch in the final five minutes of the first half, defeating the disappointed hosts, 2-0.

To make the playoffs, Belmont had to take a trip to an improving Wakefield High team and came away with a solid 2-0 win with senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere scoring both times to continue her hot stick at the inner forward position.

After reaching the playoffs, Belmont traveled Wednesday, Oct. 10 to the environs of Lexington to battle it out with a very good Minuteman squad. Starting at 6:30 p.m. (on a school night!) on a field – situated on the border of a mosquito-infested swamp – apparently illuminated by mood lights as no one could see the ball. In an evenly fought battle, Lexington took advantage of the not so common “man” advantage when the refs called Belmont’s junior Emma Donahue, the team’s top defender, for a push then sent off junior Katie Guden, the squad’s leader, for not respecting the five-meter space when the ball is restarted. And the Minutemen scored both times as Belmont’s best players were sitting by the scorer’s desk, winning 2-0, as the Marauders had to contend with the odd custom in Lexington of allowing dogs to wander along the sidelines.

Belmont, which defeated Woburn, 8-0, on Friday, Oct. 12 will have its rematch with Lexington on Wednesday, Oct. 17 with the winner in control to capture the Middlesex League Liberty title. This game played during the day, sans the threat of malaria and without mutts on the field. 

After just making the playoffs last year, Volleyball’s goal this year was a return act. And Belmont got there, but even faster than they thought, reaching its 10th win in just 12 games as the Marauders swept Wayland, 3-0, in an out-of-league match on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Led by kill specialist Jane Mahon (who is leading the Middlesex League) , and a pair of three year junior starters; setter Mindee Lai and libero Sophia Estok, Belmont was pushed in each of the three sets including having an 11-0 service run against them in the third to fall behind 21-20. But good digging and returning from the back line as well as a few unforced errors on the part of the Warriors allowed the Marauders to take the win.

After defeating Woburn on Friday, Oct. 12, Belmont, at 11-2,. will host Lexington on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

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: Girls’ Lacrosse Loss Goalie and Game to Lexington

Photo: Belmont’s Anastasia MacEwen Meg Higgins (19) defend the goal in the second half.

Belmont High School’s Girls’ Lacrosse three-year starting goalie Anastasia MacEwen was a rock in net against a slick, fast Lexington High offense. The senior kept the Minutemen at bay early in Wednesday’s home match, April 13, as Belmont’s offense was struggling losing ground balls and being checked off the ball.

On shot after shot, MacEwen stopped balls with the net of her crosse, the crosse’s shaft, her legs, body, glove and even two off her mask as the Marauders rebounded from a deficit to tie the game early in the second half behind the senior netminder’s stellar play.

But in the future, MacEwen might want to limit the number of times she uses her head making the save as the second one off her noggin saw the veteran goalie coming out of the game. (MacEwen was able to walk off the field and was on the sidelines for the rest of the match.) 

With its backstop on the bench, the team went into a bit of a defensive shell in front of substitute goalie junior Ciara Murphy, which allowed the Minutemen a bit more opportunities which the speedy Lexington forwards took advantage to sneak off Harris Field with a 13-10 win over Belmont.

“The girls played very well today,” said Head Coach Aimee Doherty.

“We played a hard game from start to finish and we really stepped up compared to our last two games in getting control of the draw. We are working on protecting the ball because we are forcing it at times and causing turnovers that have led to goals,” she said.

(Wednesday’s loss was sandwiched between an 18-1 drubbing of Stoneham and a road win Friday against Wilmington to bring Belmont’s record to 2-2.).

MacEwen was the standout in the first 25 minutes half, limiting Lexington to “only” three goals as Belmont’s offense was not yet in sync, losing plenty of ground balls and being kept from the front of Lexington’s net.

Attacking wing Julia Martin (1 goal) put Belmont on the scoreboard from a Serena Nally (4 assists) helper after nine minutes. Then in quick succession, strikes by attack Kate McCarthy (3 goals, 1 assist) and Sophie Pollack (3 goals, 2 assists) was culminated by a goal from a cutting McCarthy from a sweet pass from Pollack gave Belmont a 4-3 lead with nine minutes to play in the half.

But Lexington plotted a pair in before the half to lead 6-4. The second half saw Belmont starting on the front foot with junior attack wing AnneMarie Habelow (2 goals, 1 assist) spinning through her defender to score at the 21-minute mark, followed 13 seconds later by McCarthy to tie the game up at six. It was during the flurry of play that saw the Minutemen score the go-ahead goal with 18 minutes remaining during which McEwan was hit by the ball. 

Habelow’s second goal off a penalty start knotted the game at seven just 20 seconds later. And while defensive wing Leah Brams and defender Maija Kubasek disrupted the Minuteman offense, Lexington did keep the pressure on Belmont, which could only close the game to one goal three times – Erin Looney strike (8-9) and two from Pollack (9-10 and 10-11).

Doherty said staying above the .500 mark and be a playoff team “is absolutely doable” with 12 returning players and six seniors. 

“From the first day, they really clicked on and off the field,” she said.

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