Belmont High Boys’, Girls’ Rugby Go Undefeated, With A Pair Of State Championship Trophies In Tow

Photo: Belmont High Girls’ Rugby Head Coach Kate McCabe getting drenched after Belmont won its fifth consecutive MIAA Division 1 state girls’ rugby title.

The Belmont High School’s rugby program duplicated last year’s achievement as the Boys’ and Girls’ squads returned home to Belmont with a pair of Division 1 state championships in games played Sunday morning and afternoon on June 18 at Curry College.

Boys’ Back Line Leads The Way To Consecutive Championships

Win, return, repeat.

Belmont High Boys’ made it consecutive MIAA Division 1 state titles as the top-ranked Marauders defeated this season’s chief challenger, second-seed St. John’s Prep of Danvers, 24-14.

Belmont High finishes the season undefeated, 10-0, for the first time in the program’s 17-year history, which included three matches against out-of-state competition. The Marauders equals its traditional rival, Boston College High, with the most number of MIAA state titles with three.

“Day one of this season was, ‘Guys, you’re defending state champs, but that was last year’s team. This is a different team. We’ve won nothing,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Greg Bruce. That belief led to the team to adopt a “Zero, zero” mentality – which the team shouted out after every score by either team – which got the team grounded for the season.

Rather than viewing the score of individual games or an undefeated season as the measure of the team’s success, “they just wanted to come out here to play their rugby and have one last opportunity to be together,” said Bruce.

The match’s first 20 minutes was the expected heavyweight bout of hard tackling with no quarter given between programs that acknowledge a level of “bad blood” between the two. “[Chirpy] on the field and from the stands,” according to a Belmont coach.

“We knew they were going to be really physical, and they came out even more physical than we expected,” said Belmont High senior prop Asa Rosenmeier, a co-captain heading off to Brown, where he will play rugby. “We pride ourselves on our defense, so we took that challenge straight on.”

Playing without the senior inside center, co-captain, and the program’s all-time leading scorer Jake Cornelius who was injured in Belmont’s 49-14 semi-final victory over BC High, the Marauders stayed within their “game” of running at Preps’ front row led by the 6’5″, 280-pound Rosenmeier and keeping possession of the ball by controlling their rucks and winning the scrums.

After coming close in the first minute, Belmont struck first at the 17-minute mark as junior Number 8 Max Cornelius took a “tap and go” and snuck over the try line after being set up by a 30-meter run by senior outside center Ben Williams that put the ball inside the 10-meter mark. Junior inside center Stephen Hong – who moved into Jake Cornelius’ number 12 role on short notice – nailed the conversation despite the acute angle to stake the Marauders to a 7-0 lead.

“I was ready for this moment,” said Hong. “We got the ‘W’ so I’m pretty happy about my performance.”

It took just five minutes for the Marauders to add its second tally as Hong hopped by a defender and sprinted 40 meters to score after Rosenmeier stole a Prep pass to give Belmont the ball 35 meters from goal.

Prep got on the scoreboard through Luke Rinklin, the Eagles’ Man of the Match, when the junior fly-half quickly took the ball on a touch and go and weaved 30 meters unopposed to place Prep within one score of the lead, 12-7.

But Belmont would have the final word in the half as senior flanker Matt Doban broke two tackles in the last ten meters to lunge over the try line at the 35-minute mark to up the Marauders’ lead to 19-7 at intermission.

During the opening 15 minutes of the second half, Prep’s task was straightforward: Get an early try and keep the score tight over the final 20 minutes. And the Eagles attempted just that, possessing the ball 20 meters from the Belmont try line as they pressed the attack.

But Belmont’s hard-pressed defense would bend but not break. While the Marauders’ front row punished St. John’s Prep’s runners in the center of the field, it was Belmont’s young back six – Henry Thomas, Luke Wilgren, Hong, Williams, Myles Torres, and Wyatt Sclafani – who made up for their lack of size with speed and tackling prowess prevented Prep from breaching the defensive line including twice inside five meters of the goal line. And when Prep crossed the try zone seven minutes into the half, Hong and junior fly-half Thomas prevented the Prep player from grounding the ball, allowing sophomore full-back Torres to come in for the steal.

“We got down low around the breakdown and then fired up and hit them. You can’t be scared playing defense. That’s how we held them,” said Rosenmeier.

“We asked them to put out their best defensive performance of the year,” said Bruce after the game. “Even though the score might not be the lowest points we’ve given up, that was by far the best defensive performance.”

The Marauders’ victory was secured with one of the season’s flukiest tries. On their first venture into the Eagles’ territory 15 minutes into the half, as Belmont was kicking towards the touchline, a Prep player made what one MIAA official called “an extraordinary athletic play,” leaping for the ball three meters out of bounds to tap the ball back into play. But Belmont had two players covering the kick, and the ball bounced once straight into Wilgren’s arms, who walked over the try line in what the left wing said is “the easiest try I’ll ever score.”

With Belmont up 24-7 and time draining, St. Johns’ was looking to the always dangerous Rinklin to spark a final comeback. And when Prep scored through senior Ryan Albano’s three-meter run with 12 minutes remaining, the Eagles would only cross the midfield line with less than a minute to play. When the final whistle blew, the team received their medals, and Rosenmeier and Cornelius raised the trophy aloft.

Girls’ Dominating Win Results In Five-peat

Just one word describes the championship game and season for Belmont High Girls’ Rugby.

Supremacy.

Belmont pocketed its fifth consecutive MIAA state championship (completed in seven years), defeating a young Brookline High squad 59-0, placing a capstone on a 9-0 undefeated season.

“The team wanted to make a statement about defense, and I think they really came out in the first half and did what they needed to do,” said Head Coach Kate McCabe, who received a celebratory drenching at midfield.

Belmont was only threatened once in the season by a rapidly improving Weymouth squad in the Division 1 tournament semifinals. The Marauders fell behind 7-5 at Harris Field before scoring 26 unanswered points on four tries for a convincing 31-7 Final Four victory.

“The girls walked away from that semi-final match saying the defense and the spread that we were doing wasn’t enough. It really motivated them,” said McCabe.

Already without star Number 8, senior co-captain Val Detheux, on the pitch – lost to a knee injury suffered during the fall soccer campaign – Belmont would suffer a second blow when its all-around commanding presence, junior right flanker Alek Townsend, left the field with a knock to her knee in the first half. But the team didn’t miss a beat Sunday, as there was no loss of skill and talent with the substitutes who were sent in.

“Honestly, the privilege that I have with the depth of this bench is unbelievable,” said McCabe. “The ability to turn around and know exactly who you can put in and make a difference is amazing.”

In a game in which the weather changed by the minute – rain, sun, a dose of showers – Belmont began scoring in the first two minutes with a driving run from junior lock Rowan Dragon with the conversion from junior fly-half Lucy Kabrhel, – who went 7 of 9 in conversion attempts – as the team began a masterclass on all aspects of the game.

Brookline couldn’t string the passes needed to stretch the Marauder back line, forcing them inside where they could not make headway against a physical Belmont front. When the Warriors attempted to push the ball out wide, their runners would meet Townsend, who laid out several crushing tackles before she departed.

On offense, the Marauders were much stronger up front while Belmont’s passes, starting from senior scrum-half Shelby Ball, were quickly delivered and on the mark.

Belmont junior lock Sally Amer punched in Belmont’s second try at the 10-minute mark, followed by junior inside center Olivia Mann diving across the line at 19 minutes to give the Marauders a 21-0 lead at the half.

The Marauders’ junior full-back Mia Taylor finished the game early in the second half with two scores, including a 45-meter solo gallop and a 30-meter run around the edge.

“I was committed to finding the openings as I got the passes from my teammates,” said Taylor, who garnered a second-half hat trick. Taylor saw her sister, sophomore flanker Sadie score her try while senior prop Elise Conroy finished her career with a pair in the final minutes.

And for the fifth time, Belmont took home the state tournament winners trophy as an emotional Detheux raised the silverware with senior co-captain Number 8 Sage Tonomura-MacDonald in front of their ecstatic teammates.

Losing just a handful of senior starters from this year’s first 15, McCabe said the program is on track to continue its impressive championship run.

“We’re building from a good place,” she said.

PLAYOFFS: ‘Nickel’ Desantis Hits 100 Goal Mark In Belmont Girls’ Play-In Win; Belmont Boys’ Tennis Sweep In First Rounder; Girls’ Tennis Exits

Photo: Belmont High attack junior Tess (the Nickel) Desantis reached 100 career goals against Milford High in the Marauders’ 17-6 victory.

On short notice due to graduation week events, three Belmont High teams found themselves battling the 90 degree-plus Thursday afternoon heat along with the

The Nickel Gets Her Century In Girls Lax Play-In Victory Over Milford

After the Dime (senior Mary Mullan) in Belmont’s Nickel and Dime attack partnership reached 100 career goals against Braintree, the wait began to see if junior Tess Desantis – the Nickel – would join her front line team mate and reach her own century of goals.

Late in Thursday’s dominating 17-6 victory over Milford High School (11-8) in Belmont’s (14-5) MIAA Division 1 play-in game held on the toasty Harris Field turf surface, Desantis took a pass from senior defender co-captain Nina Leveroni and reached triple digits with a bouncer by the goalie for Belmont’s 16th of the day.

Belmont High junior Tess Desantis (#5) scoring her 100 career goal in play-in game vs. Milford.

With both teams under the pressure to accommodate their senior players to attend graduation week events, the game was moved up to the first day tournaments games were to be played. And the game was played at its earliest available time at 4 p.m., with temperatures reaching 92 degrees F with no wind under cloudless skies.

“It was brutal,” said Belmont High Girls’ Lacrosse Head Coach Dan O’Brien. “We were feeling [the heat] by the second half.”

After junior goalie Julia Herlihy stopped a one-on-one on the first offense turn by the Scarlet Hawks, Belmont countered quickly with Desantis scoring from a pass from senior midfield co-captain Stella Lesnik. The Nickel scoring her second from an 8-meter penalty just 40 seconds later and the Marauders were on their way to its first playoff win since 2012.

Desantis and first year mid Niamh Lesnik shared top scoring honors with six points with five goals and an assist each. Junior attack Carli Gaziano contributed three goals and a pair of assists with sophomore attack Charlotte Mayall and first year attack midfield Sydney Mun each with a goal.

“Our leading scorer [Mullan] had one goal but we don’t just rely on one player [scoring]. Everyone stepped up from the senior and juniors to our freshmen,” said O’Brien, who praised the first line defense

Belmont will have just a few days to savor this win as they will travel nearly the entire length of the state to take on perennial powerhouse Longmeadow High (17-3) in a first round match on Monday, June 5. The Marauders will spend more than two hours on the bus to go against a team that has reached the Division 1 final four in every MIAA tournament in the past two decades (last year the Blue Devils were eliminated in the round of 16), finally winning the state title in 2015.

“We will need a lot of breaks on ground balls and on defense. We can’t be put off by the competition. We need to keep the game close so we have a chance at the end of the game,” said O’Brien.

Boys’ Tennis Sweeps Wakefield In First Round; Girls’ Drop 4-1 to CC

Eighth ranked Belmont High Boys’ Tennis began its playoffs with a stellar 5-0 sweep over Middlesex League rival Wakefield on Thursday, May 1 in the first round of the MIAA Division 2 tournament at the overheated Winn Brook courts. Number one singles senior Alek Karagozyan, second singles junior Charlie Osborn, and third sophomore Julian Wong led the team in the victory.

Belmont High’s Charlie Osborn mashing a return at a recent match

Next up for Belmont (12-6) will be hosting Marblehead (9th ranked at 16-3) in the Sweet 16 round on Monday, June 5, at 5 p.m. at Winn Brook. The Magicians swept Oliver Ames, 5-0, on Wednesday.

After missing the tournament last year, Belmont Girls’ Tennis return to the playoffs was a short one as the 17th-ranked Marauders lost to 16th rated Central Catholic, 4-1, at Lawrence High School on June 1.

After Dream Start, Belmont Boys’ Hockey Brought Back To Reality By Xaverian, 5-2, In Div. 1 Tourney

Photo: Belmont High sophomore forward Adam Bauer celebrates his goal 31 seconds into the playoff contest with Xaverian Bros, March 5, 2023 in Canton

The Belmont High Boys’ Hockey coaching staff could not have drawn up a more perfect start to its MIAA tourney matchup against Xaverian Brothers High School. A spot-on pass by senior forward Cam Fici allowed sophomore forward Adam Bauer the space to rocket the first shot of the game past Hawks’ junior goalie Cole Pouliot-Porter giving the Marauders a dream start just 31 seconds into its Sweet 16 contest played Sunday afternoon, March 5 in Canton.

But the reality of a one-zip code team battling a regional all-star squad soon became apparent as Xaverian would pull even two minutes later and take the lead by the end of the first period. And despite a late charge by Belmont in the final stanza, the Hawks scored twice in the last 10 minutes to pick up the 5-2 victory, eliminating the Marauders from the Division 1 tournament for the second year running.

Belmont ends the season at 14-7-3.

For Belmont’s Head Coach Tim Foley, his team had a lot to be proud on their performance Sunday.

“We played hard but they have a little more depth and had their share of good bounces here and there,” said Foley. “But we don’t make excuses. We can compete with anybody; we’re talented enough, we’re strong enough and good enough. We just came out on the wrong end of the final score.”

“My father would say you have two choices: ‘you can accept the challenge in front of you or you can fold up like an accordion’ and I didn’t see any accordions out on the ice today,” said Foley.

After playing a near flawless game in the first round shutout of Chelmsford – a team which beat Xaverian, 3-1, in late January – and going up early, Foley said Xaverian “came hard at us and the harder that you work the more opportunities you make for yourself.”

During the first period, Belmont was victimized by two goals that came after Marauder miscues. After Belmont failed to clear its zone, the Hawks’ senior Joe Di Martino slotted a low wrister across Belmont senior goalie Greg Federico and inside the right post to knot the contest up. At the midpoint of the period, a loose puck was not picked up by Belmont, leaving it up for third line sophomore Jackson Morse to handcuff Federico.

One the other end of the ledger, Bauer came close to doubling his goal tally tipping a shot that forced a right pad save from Pouliot-Porter while his counter part Federico stoned a clear break to keep the margin at one at the end of the first.

Soon after taking a two goal lead early in the second, Xaverian transitioned from playing the puck to punishing to body. Late hits, stray elbows, chirping from the bench, piling into Federico’s crease – with the expected retaliatory cross check – and the usual collection of cheap shots associated with the nasties.

“It’s the way they play,” said Foley. “They play a very chippy game and it’s not always clean.”

When the refs began cracking down on the argie bargie, it was usually one from each team heading to the box – the Hawks collected nine penalties including one 10 minute misconduct as Belmont took eight bookings – not providing Belmont the advantage those who are assaulted should expect. The Hawks’ rockum’ sockum’ tactics had its desired impact on the game, destroying any sense of rhythm on the ice and wearing down the battered Belmont players.

“They tried to keep us off our game and we kind of fell into it a little bit,” said Foley. “We have a lot of physically tough players … and we certainly were not going to back down from a challenge.”

The first minutes of the third provided the Marauders with a semblance of hope as senior defender Joe Gaziano took a back pass from Bauer and beat Pouliot-Porter with a classy backhander 90 seconds into the final frame to reduce the deficit to one, 3-2.

But that late lifeline was cut a minute and a half later by the prettiest goal of the early afternoon; a pass deep to the left side of Frederico, followed by a quick one timer to senior Liam Capplis sitting all alone out in front in the slot and, well, that was that. 4-2. The final nail came was driven in five and a half left in a solid season. Despite the score, Belmont would not stop looking for that next goal, with Fici being denied a final goal in his stellar career when his snap shot clanged off the post in the final 10 seconds.

While the team understandably took their time leaving the locker room – nine seniors for the final time – before their long ride home, Foley said the players accomplished much in a season with one of the toughest schedules in program history, playing 10 of the top 20 Division 1 teams.

“We certainly came out competitive in almost every game. The kids were battle tested [playing the schedule] and we did it for games like these. I’m very proud of the team, proud of how hard they worked in practice everyday,” said Foley.

There will be quite a bit of rebuilding for next year’s team, replacing three of four top line defenders – Gaziano, co-captain Peter Grace and Theo Martin – a varsity goalie and the squad’s two leading scorers in Fici and co-captain Shay Donahue. Yet Foley said there appears to be a good-size talent pool of new high school players on the way, with a great deal to live up to.

“The seniors that are leaving certainly had a great career over the last four years,” said Foley. “They’re leaving a good message and a good work ethic behind for the younger kids. So I think the future is bright.”

Complete Team Victory As Belmont High Boys’ Hockey Sweep Aside Chelmsford, 4-0, In D1 Tourney First Round

Photo: Belmont High’s Peter Grace, with the C on his jersey, celebrates with his teammates the 4-0 victory over Chelmsford in the first round of the 2022-3 MIAA Div. 1 Hockey State Championships.

Not a bad way to close the doors to the ol’ Skip.

In the final scholastic game to be played in the venerable – but completely dilapidated – Skip Viglirolo Ice Skating Rink, the Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey squad sent the home fans of the near sell out crowd happy as the entire lineup of 10th-ranked Marauders did Yeoman’s work sweeping aside a strong Chelmsford squad in the first round of the Division 1 state championship on Thursday, March 2.

Belmont dominated all parts of the game, controlling the pace of play with a stout defense and free flowing offense keeping the Lions caged in their end for the 45 minutes, making for a long night for Chelmsford sophomore tender Mark Bierwirth (40 saves on 44 shots).

Player of the Match was senior defender and co-captain Peter Grace who scored the brace from distance and teamed with his long-time line-mate senior co-captain Joseph Gaziano to prove again they are one of the best D pairing in the state. The three defensive lines limited the Lions’ opportunity to challenge Belmont senior goalie Greg Federico who made 14 saves Thursday night.

“It was a solid game from the whole team,” said Belmont Head Coach Tim Foley.

The Marauders are off to Canton on Sunday, March 4, for a noon time face off in a Sweet 16 matchup with 7th-ranked Xaverian Brothers High School, a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight battle where the Marauders’ were eliminated in a 2-1 heart breaker.

Belmont took the game straight to Chelmsford scoring three and a half minutes in the first as junior defender Ryan Halloran shot got through a Shay Donahue screen. Chelmsford could not generate an offense to strike back as the Belmont put up a wall on the Lions blue line; on four consecutive break outs, Chelmsford clearing pass was intercepted at the line and sent back behind the net.

“All three lines played the system well of forechecking well, kept our structure and hemmed Chelmsford in their zone which is a good, hardworking team,” said Foley. “Our game plan was to wear them down and it worked.”

The first eight minutes of the second stanza witnessed a continuous march of Marauders into the penalty box with the Lions skating 5-3 for nearly three minutes. But the defense along with senior forward Cam Fici were rock solid on the penalty kill, ending the deficit even in shots on net at one.

Back at even strength, it was four-year starter Grace who doubled Belmont’s lead with a rocket from the left circle that clanged off the crossbar and in.

It wouldn’t be a Belmont game if there wasn’t a Fici goal, and the fan base was not disappointed as the Marauders’ sniper snapped the goal in from the left circle early in third. Unlike when Chelmsford held a two-man advantage, Belmont was like a cat with a cornered mouse; you knew how this was going to end: Grace walking in and burying the puck by Bierwirth to finish the scoring.

Belmont Playoff Bound: Three Marauder Teams Start Their Tournament March This Week

Photo: Belmont High Girls’ Ice Hockey four-year starter Bridget Gray will backstop the Marauders as they take on Malden Catholic in the first round of the MIAA Div. 2 tournament on Wednesday, March 1

Three Belmont High winter sports teams will be playing their first games in the 2022-3 postseason beginning Wednesday, March 1, and running through Friday, March 3. And the middle game will likely be the scholastic farewell for the town’s long-standing skating rink.

On Wednesday, March 1, the 23rd Belmont High Girls Ice Hockey (8-8-3) team will travel to Malden as the Marauders take on 10th-ranked Malden Catholic (9-9-2) in the MIAA Division 2 tournament. The puck will drop at 7:10 p.m. at the Valley Forum in Malden. How to get to the rink? Just get on Route 60 (Pleasant Street) and keep going east; the roadway will deposit you in the facility’s parking lot.

The 10th-ranked Belmont High Boys Ice Hockey (13-6-3) squad will officially end high school sports at Belmont’s Viglirolo Skating Rink on Concord Avenue with a home tournament game as the Marauders welcome the 23rd-seeded Chelmsford High Lions (11-6-3) to the “Skip” on Thursday, March 2. Faceoff will take place at 6:30 p.m.

The Belmont High Girls’ hoopsters (13-9) finished the season as the 16th-ranked team – and the last position to secure a first-round home game – in Division 1 and will host a familiar rival in 17th-ranked Central Catholic of Lawrence (8-12) at the Wenner Field House. Tip-off will be at 6:30 p.m. Fans will remember Belmont losing to the Raiders in consecutive Division 1 North finals (2018-19). The winner will likely meet the number 1 seed Andover next week.

Marauder Hockey: After ‘Skip’ Finale, Belmont High Boys’ To Host Playoff Opener While Girls’ Will Likely Cruise To The Vineyard

Photo: Skip Viglirolo (right) with Belmont High Assistant Coach Bob Shea at the final league match at the namesake rink

In the final regular season matches ever to be held at the “Skip” – that would be the Skip Viglirolo Skating Rink on Concord Avenue – on Saturday, Feb. 18, the Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ did the double with the boys’ winning in a workmanlike effort, 4-1 over Woburn High, while the girls’ recent lack of a needed finishing touch left their all-star goalie stuck with a 2-1 loss to the Tanners.

Even though the games honored the team’s seniors and the doubleheader ended more than half a century of high school games played in the rink – the girls’ team began playing there a little more than 30 years ago – supporters barely filled the stands, likely due to the start of February school vacation the day before. The day’s highlight was the presence of the rink’s namesake. Skip Viglirolo, his family and friends took in the boys’ game knowing it was likely the last time they would have a chance to see the old arena.

The Belmont Select Board recently declared it would not authorize the approximate $200,000 needed to repair critical infrastructure into the dilapidated structure. Town voters will have to opportunity to approve a $29 million debt exclusion to construct a new 40,313 sq-ft rink at the annual town election in April. Residents voted down a $35 million exclusion on an earlier rink design in November 2022.

The Boys’ were looking to right the ship Saturday – having gone 1-4-2 in the run-up to the game – with a victory as it prepared for two non-league post-season games in Springfield against juggernauts Pope Francis and Central Catholic [Update: Belmont would lose, 8-3, to Francis on Tuesday, Feb. 21, and defeat CC, 3-2 with senior co-captain Cam Fici earning the brace and senior co-captain Peter Grace putting in the third] to prep for the playoffs.

The game started with little urgency, as both teams were sparing to probe where they could take advantage of their opponent. However, by the second period, Belmont would strike three times, including a spectacular short-handed goal from – who else? – Fici, who deked and put the puck between the defender’s legs before rounding the goalie to put Belmont up, 3-1, at the end of two. Senior forward co-captain Shay Donahue would finish the scoring with a brace, and Fici picked up his third assist.

“It’s great to see what the seniors accomplished over four years including the shortened Covid season,” said Belmont Head Coach Tim Foley before the game.

In the finale, the Belmont girls came out and dominated the first two periods against a Tanner team playing for pride after missing the playoffs. But despite a flurry of chances, only first-year standout Mackenzie Clarke could send the puck into the netting with a second-period tally, while Belmont senior captain Bridget Gray was solid between the pipes throughout the opening two stanzas.

But the Tanners took advantage of Belmont’s propensity of finding the penalty box in the second and third to reverse the momentum and twice find the back of the net. The first came off a deflection when a Marauder defender attempted to knock down a shot that skipped by Gray, followed by a Woburn breakaway that Gray appeared to cover only to see it breakthrough. Belmont could not muster a challenge for the final 10 minutes to leave the ice empty-handed for the last time.

“I wouldn’t call that lack of scoring a problem this year,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Ken Murphy who noted that most of the team’s wins were in low scoring games as Gray and the back line led by junior Alex Townsend were the keystones of the defense.

“At the end of the season we didn’t have that one person who could score, and I don’t want to have that players, to be honest. I like three or four on the ice that work together to set up a good shot,” said Murphy, who has a good feeling about the upcoming playoffs.

“Coming from one of the strongest leagues out there, I feel good about anyone we go to see, that we’ll have a good chance because we are a solid team. We are three lines deep and a lot of teams can’t say that. We are solid with [Gray] so we are looking to make a mark in the playoffs,” said Murphy.

In the next to last MIAA power ranking of the season, while both teams are comfortable in the post-season, each just missed out of more favorable schedules. There are slim chances that due to other teams not releasing updated scores or late recalculations the rankings could change by the time the playoff pairings are announced this weekend.

Currently, 9th in Division 1, the boys (13-6-3) are one spot out of securing a pair of home games at the “Skip” which will close its doors one last time in early March. With the current standings, Belmont will host 24th-ranked Chelmsford (10-6-3) next week.

After missing the postseason last year with a 6-10-2 mark in 47th place, the girls were on the right side of the 16th seed, guaranteeing a home fixture in the first round. But a late-season falloff in scoring saw the Marauders limp in at 0-4-2 down the home stretch to finish the season at 8-8-3 in 18th in the Division 2 power rankings.

Last week, Belmont appeared that they would be driving and taking a ferry 100 miles and three hours (one way!) to Oak Bluffs to take on Martha’s Vineyard Regional. And as if it by destiny, as Belmont dropped a spot in the past week, the Vineyarders (12-6-2) rose one place to 15th, clinching a home game against the Marauders next week to be played at the YMCA Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena in Oak Bluffs.

Belmont High Field Hockey 4th Qtr Tally Downs SpyPonders, 1-0, In First-Round Playoff Victory

Photo: Belmont High players celebrates Lola Rocci’s (No. 4) game winner as the Marauders defeated Arlington, 1-0, in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 state field hockey championship.

Belmont High junior forward Lola Rocci slotted a pass from senior co-capt. Devin Kelleher for the games only goal 17 seconds into the fourth quarter to give the 13th-ranked Marauders a hard-earned 1-0 shutout victory over 20th-ranked Arlington High at Harris Field on Friday, Nov. 4 in the MIAA Division 1 state championships.

“That was a whole team win,” Belmont Head Coach Jess Smith told the team after the well deserved first-round victory over the co-ed SpyPonders. “It wasn’t our best play but you put all the effort out there.”

Belmont (11-4-3) will travel more than 50 miles past Worcester to Wachusett Regional High to battle the 4th-ranked Mountaineers (15-3-2) at 6 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Wachusett defeated Durfee High, 3-0, on Friday in its first round match.

Lola Rocci (left) reacts to her winning goal against Arlington

Having met league opponent Arlington twice in the season – a 4-1 home win and a 3-3 draw away – there was no expectation that familiarity would breed contempt by the Marauders as the SpyPonders came into the playoffs on a high, recording a 4-1-2 record in its final seven games including a defeat of top-ten Reading and ties against playoff bound Winchester. Much of Arlington’s improvement came as the result from the inclusion of two young men, seniors Austin Cronin and Sean McCadffrey, whose speed and strength allowed the SpyPonders to be more aggressive on both sides of the ball, including freeing up impressive sophomore forward/midfield Libby Corsetti to play a major role on defense while driving forward on offense.

Arlington started the game on the front foot, pressing Belmont in the first half as the Marauders relied on its defenders – junior Alex Townsend, senior co-capt. Willa Sama and senior Alina Maier – and junior goalie Julia Herlihy to hold the fort as the Marauders got off on its now typical slow start.

“We have to start off with our best and not go better, better, better than best,” said Smith.

Belmont’s Alex Townsend prepares to strike the ball after stoning Arlington’s Austin Cronin (30) in the final minutes of Belmont’s 1-0 playoff win.

With the SpyPonders exploiting the left side of the field, Belmont midfielders junior Tess Desantis (on the critical right side), senior co-capt. Layne Doherty and freshman MacKenzie Clarke fell back to assist the defenders who kept the ball off of Arlington’s sticks. Twice in the first half Herlihy stoned Arlington forwards at her doorstep, once clearing the ball from the goal line. Only in the final minutes of the second quarter did Belmont have a pair of strong attempts at Arlington’s goal.

If Belmont starts a match with the “lack of urgency” expected from a tournament team, according to Smith, the second half of matches has been Belmont’s time to take charge. The Marauders began winning the 50/50 balls and turned up its offense that was equally impressive down the wings and through the middle.

With the game in the balance, Belmont grabbed the lead at the start of the fourth. Receiving a pass from junior Carly Gaziano, Kelleher raced 35 meters up the heart of the SpyPonders midfield before pushing the ball to the on-rushing Rocci who buried the ball just inside the left post.

For the remaining 14 minutes, Belmont continued to press its advantage while limiting Arlington’s possessions with its collective defense. Its stalwart performance was highlighted by a critical sequence in the final minutes when Arlington’s Cronin broke through a gap in the Marauder midfield with only Townsend between him and a clear breakaway. But Cronin’s attempt to play a long ball and sprint to the goal was thawed as Townsend – a starter on the 2021 state rugby championship team – stood her ground cleanly stopping the ball as Cronin stumbled by.

The final minutes saw the Marauders capitalize on its doggedness to keep the ‘Ponders’ at bay. The team rushed Herlihy at the final horn as Belmont celebrated its first playoff victory since 2018.

Belmont Boys’ Rugby Takes State Title Over Arch-Rival BC High, 20-7; Fourth Title In Program History

Photo: The Belmont High School Boys’ Rugby squad celebrate its 2022 MIAA Division 1 State Championship with the tournament trophy.

Boston College High School rugby squad is known as the Eagles, but at MIAA Division 1 state title match, it was the Belmont High ruggers who flew to victory.

In a match where Belmont’s embrace of an all-encompassing kicking game proved decisive against the traditional muscle and brawn style employed by BC High, the Marauders dominated the Eagles, 20-7, on Saturday, June 17, capturing its second MIAA Division 1 state championship and the fourth title in the program’s 15-year history before a boisterous near capacity crowd at Curry College in Milton.

“We had a saying all year: ‘Don’t go through the wall, go over it.’” said senior fly-half and co-captain Erik Rosenmeier who scored twice from penalty kicks and on a pair of conversions resulting in half of Belmont’s points. “And that’s what we did today. Our kicking was amazing.”

Belmont’s kicking strategy which has become an important part of the program’s overall tactics mimics a trend in the professional game where world-class teams and national squads punt to challenge opponents, all a defense to reset and to “flip the field” with deep strikes placing the competitor on the back foot.

While kicking was an effective weapon against BC and St. John’s Prep in the semi-finals, Greg Bruce, Belmont’s head coach since he brought rugby to the school in 2007, pointed to the hard work the Marauders have placed in defense and tackling during the season.

For the past two weeks we coaches built our defensive structure and put it into practice in training,” said Bruce. “The forwards played great, the backs, the defense. It was a team performance to be honest.”

“BC is an amazing team but they rely on their athleticism more than they rely on their skill. They really just want to get the ball and run it hard up the gut and hope we can’t tackle them. And, you know, that’s what we did, stop them,” said Rosenmeier.

Belmont came out of the gate fast and used their inside running to great effect to set up Loose Head Prop Asa Rosenmeier – Erik’s younger brother – to barrel into try from six meters out just four minutes in the match to give Belmont the early 7-0 lead. But 10 minutes later, a series of quick hitting runs by BC allowed senior Jack McNicholl to slalom 30 meters to tie the game at 7-7.

Belmont spent the first half placing the Eagles under pressure with sustained tackling against the BC frontline and a number of clearing punts that kept putting the Eagles behind the midfield line. On the offensive side, the Marauders’ were able to string together drives that got them within kicking range when penalties were called against BC. Bruce didn’t hesitate to put the ball on Rosenmeier’s toe as the senior scored twice at the 23 minute and 32 minute marks as the lead climb to 13-7.

The ability to keep momentum on its side turned out to be critical in Belmont’s final score, a gutsy drive after time expired in the half in which the Marauders’ protected each ruck and finally opened a small gap in the BC line allowing Lock Viktor Insanic to run straight into try to give Belmont a two score lead, 20-7.

The final 35 minutes was a near masterclass by the Belmont XV in denying BC the momentum or big plays needed to get back into the match. When the Eagles threatened 10 minutes into the half, Belmont backs came up with a great stand inside its 22 meter preventing runners from turning the corner, stalling BC’s drive eventually resulting in a Rosenmeier kick that was “knocked on” by an Eagles back giving possession to the Marauders in the BC half.

While BC kept to its strategy of quick, hard hits into the body of Belmont’s line, the tactics proved exhausting to the Eagles which was only compounded by a series of deep kicks that allowed Belmont to reset its defense and force BC to travel ever further to attempt to cut the margin of Belmont’s lead.

“The second half was a little boring; a lot of whistles, we got a yellow card and then it got really, really choppy after that. But they did what mattered most when it mattered most and that’s why we’re here,” said Bruce.

In its final venture close to the try line, Marauders’ Number Eight Max Cornelius made a critical steal ending all of BC’s hopes. Soon after the starters started coming out and the reserves got a chance to be on the pitch for the final whistle.

The 2022 crown joins Belmont’s MIAA Div. 1 state championship won in 2019 and MYRO titles in Division 1 in 2013 and Division 2 in 2011.

“Coming into the season, there’s this kind of pressure. I really wanted to win a state championship to finish my high school career,” said Rosenmeier. “When we lost our very first game to Milton [17-12 on April 8],it was kind of like a wake up call for us that we needed to get our act together. And we just worked our [posterior] off for the rest of the season and now we’re here with this,” said Rosenmeier hold the state trophy.

“Amazing!” he said as the celebration continued on the pitch.

Belmont High Hockey Throws Off Natick, 3-0, In First Round of Div. 1 State Playoffs

Photo: Belmont High senior Matt Rowen scores the game’s first goal off a Tim Cushing rebound as Belmont defeated Natick, 3-0, in the first round of the MIAA Div. 1 state hockey championship Friday, March 4

The 800 fans who stuffed themselves into the ancient forum known as “The Skip” Friday night, March 4, had the opportunity to witness the quintessential “Belmont” game played by the High School Boys Ice Hockey during the successful 2021-22 season.

In its 3-0 home shutout over Natick High in the first round of 32 in the MIAA Division 1 state tournament, the Marauders demonstrated the three elements that produced a 17-1-3 record: solid goaltending from senior Ryan Griffin, a defensive scheme based on frustrating and tiring opponents with an attack that can strike anywhere inside the blue line.

A physical game, for sure.

“We’ve established this year an identity and that we’re a defensive team that strikes when the opportunity presents itself and that we did tonight,” said first-year head coach Tim Foley.

Belmont set the tone of the game scoring within the first two minutes of the puck being dropped when four Red Hawk skaters playing a high line defense lost senior forward Matty Rowen who drifted behind them and lifted an in-close rebound by Natick senior goalie Tim Cushing with 13:03 on clock.

“It’s always important in the playoffs to strike first, you don’t want to be playing from behind and trying to catch up to the team,” said Foley. “You’ve got to get out in front, you got to make that push early on.”

For the remainder of the first, Belmont’s defense – which has surrendered a mere 24 goals in 22 games – took the play from the Red Hawks by thawing its attempts to establish any cohesive tactics by forcing Natick to fight for the puck along the boards while blocking the rare centering passes.

Belmont High’s Joe Gaziano (left) covers Natick’s top goal scorer freshman Sam Hubbard as Belmont’s Ryan Griffin guards the net during a second period Natick power play. Host Belmont defeated Natick, 3-0, in the first round of the MIAA Div. 1 playoffs.

While Friday demonstrated Belmont’s three tier team approach to victory, sophomore forward Matt Pomer was a presence on all corners of the rink. On several occasions in the second and third period he was a handful for Red Hawk defenders around the net, nearly scoring on a solo rush from behind the net. On the first penalty kill, he out-muscled Natick’s leading scorer Matt Haskell and striped the puck early in the second period.

“Mattie is a very good player who is very steady and plays hard,” said Foley of his second line forward. “We knew that Natick was going to come with a physical plan and that’s Mattie Pomer’s game. He loves the physical part of the game, taking pucks away from people, hitting players with his shoulders down. He was in his office today.”

Belmont was at its strongest midway through the second as they squeezed the Red Hawks into their zone which produced Belmont second tally. With junior Shay Donahue screening Cushing, Fici deftly slotted the puck from his favorite left side circle into the back of the net to double Belmont’s advantage with 3:15 remaining. The goal was Fici’s 35th of the extended season.

“I told the team they have to get the pucks in deep, get pressure on the other team and that will get pucks to the net and hopefully in the net,” said Foley.

The Red Hawks entered the final 15 minutes on the front foot to get back into the match but Griffin held the fort as the Marauders’ defensive stalwarts – first pair of juniors Joe Gaziano and Peter Grace along with fellow junior Theo Martin, sophomores Adrien Gurung and Ryan Holloran, junior Henry Melanson and senior John Whouley – shut the door on any comeback.

A late interference call against the Marauders allowed Natick to pull Cushing with two-and-a- half minutes remaining, but the resulting two man advantaged could only produced a pair of long-range shots against Griffin. Down a man, Belmont sealed the victory when Grace picked up a loose puck and “waltzed” to the blue line to fill the empty net before falling on his back while attempting a rare goal celebration.

Belmont (18-1-3) will host 10th-ranked Marshfield High (which took down Lincoln/Sudbury Regional, 2-0, on a pair of goals in the final four minutes. Time and date to come.

“I know [Marshfield] … and they play hard, they play physical and they’re going to be tough to play against. But we have to rely on our attributes and our abilities and we’ll execute our game plan and hopefully, have another win,” said Foley.

Friday Night Is Alright! Belmont High Boys’ Hockey vs Natick In Div 1 First Round At 7 PM

Photo: Belmont High junior Cam Fici being a nuisance against Catholic Memorial

After winning the Middlesex League Liberty title and recording a one-loss season, the 7th-ranked Belmont High School Boys’ Ice Hockey now heads into the post-season hosting 26-seed Natick High School in the opening round of 32 of the MIAA Division 1 tourney at ‘The Skip’ on Friday, March 4. The puck will be dropped at 7 p.m.

Tickets will be on sale at the door. Adult tickets are $10, student and senior tickets, $5. Come early, stay late.

(Lead by solid goaltending from senior Ryan Griffin and with one of the top defensive pairing in the state of juniors Peter Grace and Joe Gaziano, Belmont has held opponents to an eastern Massachusetts low 24 goals in 21 games. The defensive scheme established by first-year head coach Tim Foley is in large part the reason the team secured a 17-1-3 record playing in a league in which each team secured a placement in the playoffs.

Belmont’s offense is led by its first line of senior Marty Rowen and juniors Shay Donahue and scoring phenom Cam Fici who finished the season averaging more than a goal-and-a-half per game (34-10-44).

It’s no surprise the Boston Globe labeled the Marauders the “sleeper” of the tournament.

Natick from the Bay State Carey League comes in with a 10-9-3 record. They are led by a pair of forwards – freshman Sam Hubbard with 11 goals and senior Matt Haskell (7-18-25) – while the goaltending is shared by senior Timmy Cushing and freshman Jason Danahy who have a GAA of 1.80.

Don’t let the Redhawks’ near .500 record fool anyone; they tied (1-1) and lost by a single goal (3-2) against league rival Wellesley which beat Belmont for the Marauders’ only loss. Against other common opponents, both teams beat Franklin (2-0 by Natick, 4-0 by Belmont) while Natick lost to Catholic Memorial 4-0 and Belmont beat up on CM, 4-1.