Belmont's Kelsey Scott (22) holds off a Bishop Brady defender in the first half of the Raiders' 6-1 victory last week. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 15, 2014BELMONT – The schedule this season will certainly challenge the Belmont High School girls' soccer team. Entering this week's game with Bow, the Red Raiders had passed their tests with flying colors.
Belmont jumped out of the gates hard on Sept. 9, scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the first half to earn a 6-1 victory over Bishop Brady in Division III action.
"This was a good measuring stick game for us," admitted BHS head coach Amy Dutton, whose team beat Brady by just a 1-0 score when the teams met last fall. "This is usually a tight game, a 1-0 or a 2-1 kind of game. We're generating a ton of offense so far this year and that showed today."
Brady and Bow represent a number of different teams that appear on Belmont's schedule this season, as the Raiders hope the diversity and stiff competition will pay dividends come postseason time.
"The past few years we had really good records but we weren't really prepared for what kinds of teams we played in the playoffs," admitted senior defender Zoe Zeller.
Dutton lauded the play of Zeller, who scored her team's first goal of the game in the third minute of action against Brady. On a corner kick from freshman Chloe Sottak, Zeller managed to put the ball in with her thigh, crashing the net for a 1-0 lead. In addition to the tally, Dutton liked what she saw from her last line of defense in Zeller.
"This was probably Zoe's best, most complete game of the year so far," said Dutton. "I'm happy that she got the goal but in the second half, she had to run down some 1v1 balls and Brady had some quick kids that she was able to track down."
Senior forward Cassie Contigiani made it 2-0 just two minutes after Zeller's goal, as she took a feed from Jen Hamilton and found the back of the net to give the Raiders a quick early boost.
"We came out hot, that's for sure," said Contigiani.
Contigiani added her second of the game in the 14th minutes, taking a cross from forward partner in crime Makayla Donovan for a 3-0 lead. She added her third of the half 12 minutes later, again receiving a pass from Donovan for a 4-0 advantage that the Raiders would carry into halftime.
"We've got a great 1-2 punch in Cass and Makayla this year up top and they've been scoring a ton of goals for us," Dutton said.
Donovan's move from midfield up top this year has certainly yielded results, as the pair were all over the pitch causing havoc against Brady.
"Moving to forward this year, it's been a lot easier because I know where (Contigiani) is going to be," explained Donovan. "Having those experiences playing halfback in the past, I think that has helped me in the transition."
Brady tried to rebound out of halftime, and the Green Giants got on the board just 24 seconds into the half, cutting the Belmont deficit to 4-1.
"In a way that was good for us," said senior Chayleigh Cadarette of the conceded goal. "We picked it up defensively after that. I think it woke us up a bit."
Donovan would give Belmont its four-goal cushion back in the 58th minute, as she made it 5-1 with a tally, and Megan Prescott capped off the scoring in the 77th minute with a high strike over the Brady keeper's head for the 6-1 final.
"I thought we outworked them; we played really hard," said senior defender Kylie O'Connell.
The team's attention to corner kicks has shown in the early-going, as Belmont scored goals off the set piece in each of their first four games to open the year.
"We've been able to incorporate our defense into the corner kicks which has been big," Dutton said.
Midfielder Kelsey Scott played well in her first game playing on the outside, while Karlyn Brown handled her role along the defensive line well.