A year ago, a one-goal deficit against the Belmont High School Girls' Ice Hockey team wasn't hardly a concern; heck, the team twice came back from three-goals down to tie games. With scoring aces Caroline McCarthy, Erin O'Donovan and Alexandra Cellucci all on one line, being a goal behind was an afterthought for a team that would go on to score nearly 100 goals.
Fast forward to this season and being down by one will more than likely result in Belmont High School falling into the loss column.
Despite how well they are skating, how strong their defense is playing or as their pass-oriented offense dominates a game, the Marauders are missing the most essential part of the game: they are not putting the biscuit in the basket. Or more simply: they ain't scoring.
The scoring draught, the team has only scored three or more goals in three games (two wins and a tie), has been the top of long-time Head Coach Mark Haley's talking points after each match.
"You simply can't win scoring one goal a game," Haley said after a tough 2-1 loss to Arlington two weeks ago.
And Haley's observation was clearly on display in Belmont's latest games; a 2-1 loss to undefeated and top-10 ranked Reading High School on Saturday, Jan. 5 and in a disheartening 3-0 shutout defeat on Monday, Jan. 7 to the hands of the Methuen/Tewksbury high schools co-op team that is skating their first season as a varsity team.
In both games, Belmont (now 2-4-1) would dominate play in their opponent's defensive zone but just could not find an answer to their inability to beat the goaltender.
Against Reading, Belmont got off to a fast start as forward Erin McLaughlin (who scored twice in Belmont's 3-0 win over Winchester) deftly maneuvered by a Reading defender before beating Rocket's goalie Kayla St. Pierre early in the first period.
And while Belmont needed to rely on goaltender Megan Foley – who made outstanding saves throughout the game – to stay in the game, the Marauders had their chances especially in the third period when, down 2-1, had the better of the play.
Yet most of Belmont shots came from far off rather then in-close. And when they did skate in with a single defender before them, a player could not find any of the open skaters.
Yet Belmont nearly bailed themselves out as outstanding senior Cellucci beat St. Pierre with a bullet shot that hit off the crossbar with that disappointing "clang."
But it was Monday's game against Methuen/Tewksbury that put out a number of eighth graders on the ice that brought home the goal shortfall.
A lackluster first half of the first period allowed the youngsters to jump out ahead by three goals as Methuen/Tewksbury's leading scorer Amanda Conway scored a true hat-trick with three consecutive tallies, her third this season.
Once shaken awake, the Marauders took control of the game, putting the visitors on their back skate for the remainder of the game.
But in those 37 minutes, Belmont only brought the puck close to the goal a handful of times as they took most of their shots from the point.
M/T's goaltender Taylor Lirakis, who was the backup goalie on the boys varsity team last season, was technically too good to be beaten from distance. And when the Marauders did come close to the slot, defender Kat LeFebre was rock solid putting herself in-front of most passes and pushing away Belmont's forwards.
Belmont forward Christy Moore came the closest in cracking the goal barrier but was stopped by Lirakis' glove in the first period.
When the final horn blared, the Maruaders found themselves looking up at a zero under "Home" on the scoreboard.