Photo: Belmont High senior Lucas Alvarez-Fernandez in action vs Melrose High on Monday, Sept. 12 at Belmont’s Harris Field
You don’t need to travel to the southwestern part of the US to witness a drought. You could have just come to Harris Field last week to see Belmont High Boys’ Soccer play its first two home games of the 2022 season to experience a real dry spell.
After a successful away campaign to open the season, with victories over Stoneham (3-0) and Winchester (3-1), the Marauders’ scoring prowess went hiding as the squad was shut out by Melrose 2-0 and drew 0-0 with Watertown under the lights on Soccer Night in Belmont.
But it was not for lack of effort. In both losses, Belmont held the majority of possession and had the better chances at the net. But where the team controlled the midfield with its trademark deft passing that led to open shots, none beat the opposing keeper.
Going into its home game against Reading on Tuesday, Sept. 20, Belmont stands at 2-1-1.
“We knew right from the beginning of the season that we had all the pieces in place, except for potentially those guys that are going to get the ball in the net,” said second-year head coach Niman Kenkre after the Watertown game. That wasn’t the case in the first two games as senior Lucas Alvarez-Fernandez and sophomore Daniel Liu opened their accounts with a pair of goals with goalie Thomas Borkowski keeping a clean sheet at Stoneham.
Against Melrose on Monday, Sept. 12, Belmont was on the front foot in the first half with Liu hitting the post, and a Patrick Tang pass/shot dribbled along the goal line unable to find a friendly foot to steer it home. The attacks continued in the second half with junior Nikolas Stefanovic‘s cleaver back heel in front of the net just missed being a highlight reel tally while junior Sachil Kenkre had a couple of attempts that sailed just over the bar. Those almost/nearly opportunities came to bite the Marauders
Before a large crowd on Saturday, Belmont demonstrated its skill in advancing the ball with medium to short passes through the heart of the Raiders’ midfield. But once again, shots on the net were launched over the bar rather than steered into the net or the Marauders’ attempted one-too-many passes or touches that allowed an good Watertown defense to take the block. While the game officially ended in a tie, the game went to penalty shots to determine the winner of the Phoenix Cup, the Soccer Night in Belmont trophy. Despite two excellent saves by Borkowski, Watertown would take home the silverware this year.
“I’ve got to figure out how we’re gonna get goals because we don’t have that hunger in the box right now, and I may need to change some things tactically. It’s two games in a row where we’ve had perfect possession, excellent chances, and we couldn’t bundle the ball over the line,” he said.
And while Belmont is facing admittingly “big games” in the week against Reading on Tuesday and Arlington on Saturday, there’s no panic on the Marauder sideline, among the coaches or players.
“It’s not the end of the world. It’s early in the season when we’re ready to right the ship,” said Kenkre.
“I’m not unhappy with the way that we’re playing. We just need to play that way for 80 minutes, not 40 or 60.”