Boo! Tournament Ready, Belmont Field Hockey Welcomes C-C On Halloween In 1st Round

Photo: Seniors on Seniors Night at Belmont High School.

Belmont Field Hockey is only thinking all treats and no rock as the 7th seeded Marauders host 10th ranked Concord Carlisle Regional on Halloween in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 North Sectionals.

The game will have an early start, 2:30 p.m., at Harris Field on Oct. 31.

The Patriots come to town with a 12-4-2 record as runners-up to Weston in the Dual County League, Small School division. Belmont finished the season at 12-4-0, second to Lexington in the Middlesex Liberty division race.

The postseason comes as Belmont has seeming rightened the ship after going through a stretch where the Marauders could not convert their good play into wins. It’s two Lexington league games were relatively even in all aspects except the final score as the Minutemen outpaced Belmont 7-1 over the two games. In its rematch against Winchester (having won the initial encounter, 3-0), Belmont arrived at an empty field and no one to be found. It turned out a scheduling change left Belmont waiting for two hours in the cold before losing 4-2 in a lackluster affair.

But coming down the stretch, it appeared the Marauders had rediscovered its earlier strong form starting the season on a seven-game winning streak that concluded with an outstanding effort against 10-time Division 2 state champs Watertown, outplaying the Raiders on the field (13 penalty corners to 1 and 8 shots to 2) but came out on the wrong end of a 2-0 score.

For longtime head coach Jess Smith, the final two games of the regular season saw an increase in scoring chances while a tweaking of her defense has solidified the backline.

“For the tournament, I wanted a home game and not play a Middlesex League team in the first round,” said Smith. “Playing someone new is helpful for the kid’s mindset because playing someone three times is a nightmare.” 

On Seniors Night, Oct. 24, Belmont concluded the sweep over a nine-win Reading team, handily defeating the Rockets, 3-1. Co-captain forward Morgan Chase scored along with fellow senior left wing Hana Power in the first half followed by junior midfield Katie Guden in the second. The Marauders dominated the middle of the field not allowing the Rockets to use its breakout speed on the counter-attack. Guden produced the play of the game when her “ankle breaker” NBA-style crossover move left a Rocket defender on the turf to the amusement of her teammates (and it must be said to the victim herself).

Reading has played Belmont and Concord Carlisle twice this season, losing 2-1 at Concord and tying the Patriots, 1-1, in the reverse fixture.

“I was really happy how they played against Reading. They were determined to return to how they were playing in the first part of the season,” she said. “They showed up and played the entire 60 minutes.” 

Belmont traveled to Arlington for a late autumn last game to finish off the regular season, coming away with a 5-1 win where Smith was able to bring in bench players and switch around positions. Guden, Power, Lettiere (2) and senior right wing and Chase tallied in the game. 

“They started the game out slow, but by the end, we could have scored a lot more than five goals. I think the kids are starting to feel that they are tournament ready,” said Smith.

Central Catholic Defense Shuts Down Belmont Girls’ Hoops in North Sectional Finals

Photo: Senior co-captains (from left) Carly Christofori, Jenny Call and Greta Propp leaving the court after falling to Central Catholic, 43-35, in the Division 1 North Sectional finals.

When the buzzer sounded at the Tsongas Arena Saturday night, March 10, it was fitting that Belmont High Girls’ Basketball co-captains where standing united for a final time on a basketball court. But it wasn’t to celebrate a first-ever finals victory but to be joined in heartache as the three senior leaders – Jenny Call, Carly Christofori, and Greta Propp – headed off after Belmont (19-4) fell to an undermanned Central Catholic High School (21-2) squad, 43-35, in the Division 1 North Sectional finals held in Lowell.

The teammates, who first played together in the MIAA North semifinals as freshmen three years ago, attempted to put a brave face on the loss but tears began as their teammates attempted to comfort them after the trio came close once again – reaching the sectional finals as sophomores and semifinals as freshmen and juniors – to holding up a championship trophy.

For Christofori, the team she led from the point guard position showed what it was made of despite trailing throughout the 32 minutes.

“It’s really sad but knowing we put everything into it this whole season and we played to the end of the game, that showed something about our team,” said Christofori after the game. “If we lost, we lost together and we worked hard for the entire game.”

In a game that highlighted team defense, Central Catholic – which was missing two starters including its team leader injured the night before in its semifinals against Lowell High – targeted the heart of Belmont’s offense as its avenue to victory. In fact, sophomore Nadeshka Bridgewater (5 points), the Central Catholic player who had the greatest impact on the finals outcome, likely would not have been on the court if it wasn’t for starter Ava Bradley being on crutches.

Central Catholic’s Head Coach Casey Grange started the quick 5’2″ guard to do one thing; pester Christofori. And Bridgewater did just that, playing a tight man-to-man defense on Belmont’s senior point guard who found it difficult to execute the Marauders’ offense or to get off a shot either from distance or on the drive. The tactic accomplished its mission in spades; where Belmont was hitting an average of eight threes in the playoffs, Central Catholic held Belmont to just three from beyond the arc. And when Belmont came inside, Central Catholic would swarm inside the paint taking away Belmont’s drives from the outside.

“[Bridgewater] definitely made the difference in the game,” said Head Coach Melissa Hart.

“They knew they had to shut down Carly and they worked really hard to take her out of the game,” said Belmont’s Assistant Head Coach Steve Conley. “She’s the guts of the team.” 

In front of a pro-Raiders’ arena, the Raiders raced out to a 7-1 lead midway through the first quarter when Belmont responded, first with a three from junior Megan Tan (a Marauder high 9 points) then a tough two from Propp (6 points) to cut the lead to 7-6. A three from freshman Adrianna Niles (who scored 10 of her 11 points in the first) upped the Raiders’ lead to 12-8 before Belmont’s center Jess Giorgio (7 points to go along with 6 rebounds) hit a pair from the paint to tie the contest at 12 after one.

Central Catholic would use its physical defense to cause Belmont turnover problems and hold Belmont to two baskets (a mid-range jumper by sixth-man Jane Mahon (2 points) and a Tan drive) and open up the court as the Raiders’ Kaylee Thomas hit two from distance (six of her game-high 17 points) to build an eight-point lead, 24-16, at the half.

There was a glimmer of hope in the third when Call hit her trademark three-pointer – she ends her four years as the team’s career leader in threes – at the 7:00 mark followed by a pair by Propp from the free throw line and a spinning layup by Giorgio to keep the game close at 26-23 at 5:35. But a basket and a three from Thomas upped the Raiders’ lead to 31-23 midway through the quarter. But a Tan fast-break layup and a transition three by Christofori (her only points of the game) would see Belmont chopped the lead to five (33-28) entering the final eight minutes.

The final quarter turned out to be a march to the free throw line as Belmont committed its seventh foul early. After making two of four from the line, Central Catholic got the lead to six when the Marauders went on its final run of the game. Call drove and scored while being fouled to cut the lead to three, 34-31, then Propp was hit going up and made her free throws to cut Belmont’s deficit to one, 34-33, with five minutes to play.

But after that spurt, Belmont would be forced see the Raiders head to the free throw line on four consecutive trips down the court as the Raiders’ went 6 for 8 to increase the lead to 40-33 with a minute and a half remaining. A foul on Call resulted in Belmont cutting the lead to five, 40-35, but it came with 49.6 left. Needing the ball, Belmont fouled and while senior Maura Smith (2 points) missed a pair, Belmont could not capitalize on two trips down the court.

In the final quarter, Central Catholic scored all its 11 points from the line on 20 attempts, compared to the Marauders going to the charity stripe six times making five.

“They definitely earned it. They made up turn the ball over and got us out of our game,” said Hart. “And then, they made more baskets then we did.”

And while the past four years – which the Marauders have gone 66-26 in league and playoff play – has been a testament to the growth in the program, Hart lamented the five seniors – including Ally Shapazian and Kylie Rhone – couldn’t make an appointment to play for the Eastern Mass championship at the TD Boston Garden.

“Those seniors worked so hard all four years. It’s a shame it had to end here,” said Hart.

Final Minute Tally Secures Playoff Win For Belmont ‘Blond’ Boys’ Hockey

Photo: The victorious Belmont High squad, blond and happy (From the Belmont High Hockey twitter site (

The Blond Boys did it.

After falling behind four times only to come back to tie the score, Belmont High Boys’ Hockey – who dyed their hair a yellowish color en masse before the game – scored in the final minute to give the Marauders a thrilling 5-4 victory over Middlesex League-rival Melrose High in the first round of the Division 1 North Sectionals on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at Chelmsford.

Sophomore forward Justin Rocha scored his fourth goal of the season – the assist going to senior line mate Alec Morin – with 1:03 remaining to secure the win. Rocha also scored on the power play to tie the game at 4 with the assist from senior Tim Bailey. Senior forward Will Dominiconi started the three goal third period with an early tally to knot the game up at 3.

Dominiconi also started the scoring in the first with a goal from senior captain Connor Dacey. Senior assistant captain and team’s leading scorer Steve Rizzuto – who was awarded postgame the coveted Belmont firefighter’s helmet for his overall play – notched his 19th goal of the season on the penalty kill with a little more than five minutes remaining in the second.

Wednesday’s victory was the first MIAA tournament win for the Marauders since Belmont defeated Arlington, 6-5, in four OT’s in 2006.

And Belmont will meet number 1 seed SpyPonders for the third time this year in the D1North quarterfinals taking place on Saturday, March 3 at Woburn’s O”Brien Rink. The time has yet to be set.