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Belmont boys start fast, beat Winnisquam

Winnisquam’s Lester DeRoche looks to keep Bryan McLelland of Belmont off the ball during first half action Friday in Belmont. The Red Raiders won the season-opener 4-0. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
August 29, 2011
BELMONT – The skill of the Belmont High School boys' soccer team was on full display last week, as the Red Raiders opened their regular season in style on Aug. 26, shutting out Lakes Region rival Winnisquam Regional High School, 4-0, in Division III action.

"The guys understood that you've got to keep it simple to be successful," said Belmont coach Mike Foley. "When we play simple, short soccer, good things happen. I saw a lot of nice things today and hopefully we can keep that up throughout the year. We got out of this what we wanted."

The Raiders got on the board first thanks to a sweet back heal flip from junior captain Austin Wilder, as he scored in the seventh minute to put Belmont up 1-0.

The home team struck again just three minutes later, as forward Brendon Johnson, who assisted on Wilder's strike, doubled the lead with a tally of his own to make it 2-0.

Pedro Perez rounded out the first-half scoring in the 36th minute, as he struck a perfect free kick from just over 20 yards out and buried it for the 3-0 lead. The goal avenged a blast from Perez just minutes before, as his bomb from 25 yards out dipped and appeared destined for the goal. But the ball struck the crossbar and bounced straight down before being cleared off the line and out of danger.

"We hit the crossbar quite a few times today," Foley recalled. "Pedro is a kid that I need to be confident and he had some nice scoring chances today."

New Winnisquam head coach Jason Welch, who takes over for 12-year vet Amy Dutton (now coaching the Belmont girls), tried to rally his troops at halftime, as he's been in similar holes in the past with other teams he's coached.

"The first half we looked a little confused, guys weren't sure what they should be doing at times," admitted Welch. "We lit a fire under them a little bit at halftime and I told them I've had teams come back down 3-0 before so the game definitely wasn't over at that point."

The Bears came out much more organized in the second half, as Cullen Robinson got an early scoring chance on Belmont goalie Kaleb Brace. Winnisquam was able to utilize its speed more after intermission, resulting in several 1-on-1 chances in the second 40 minutes.

"We kind of assumed (Winnisquam) would play long and to their speed," explained Foley. "They played hard and with that Winnisquam mentality that they've come to be known by."

The Red Raiders put the game away in the 58th minute however, as Kyle Bjelf fed Ashton Singh with a nice square pass and Singh blasted a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and in to put Belmont up 4-0.

"We knew Belmont would be tough," said Welch, who lauded the play of Tom Sattler and Nick Welch. "They've got a solid nucleus and good coaching so there's a reason they're one of the teams to watch this year. It was just one of those games for us, chalk it up as our first time out and hope we get better the next game."

After putting four goals on the board right out of the gate, Foley hopes his team can continue to thrive offensively.

"You have to score goals in Division III," he explained. "By the time you reach the playoffs, which is still a long ways away, you have to have guys who can finish if you want to move on."

Brace, who made his first start in net since the middle of last season after suffering a hand injury, earned the shutout thanks to a solid effort between the pipes.

"Position-wise he was great today," said Foley. "It's so nice to have him back there and able to play for us."

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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