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Belmont Girls' In Sectional Finals with 'Golden' OT Victory Over Newburyport

Olivia Lyons scores consecutive game-winning playoff goals in 1-0 win over Clippers; Sectional finals on Monday at 12:30 p.m.

When Belmont High School's Olivia Lyons runs up into the opponent's goal box from her place on the back line, something's bound to happen.

That's because the senior defender will do just about anything – leaping on friend and foe, knocking over players bigger than her – to get her (pick a major body part here) on the ball to power it to the net. 

And in the final minute of the first overtime session in the semi-final match against Newburyport Saturday morning, Nov. 10, Lyons saw a corner from fellow senior Julia Russo drop in front of her.

"I got it with my thigh this time," said Lyons after the game. "Then I kicked it into the net." 

Lyons' "golden" goal was the margin of victory as the Belmont's Girls' Soccer team won a dramatic 1-0 clash over the Clippers in the semi-finals of the Division II North sectional played in Lynn's Manning Field.

Belmont will play in the Sectional finals on Monday, Nov. 12 at 12:30 p.m. at Manning Field.

The win avenges a 2-1 loss to Newburyport in last year's quarterfinal that left four Belmont players with concussions. 

Lyons' score, on Russo's "perfect kick" which soared out of the reach of Clippers' goalie, Lilly Donovan, was her second game-winning goal in as many playoff games, scoring in the final three minutes of Tuesday's quarterfinal 2-1 victory against top-ranked and undefeated Amesbury.

"We have gone through the best," said Paul Graham, Belmont's long-time head coach, even though he didn't believe that his team "played all that well against Amesbury or this team." 

The defensive struggle was dominated by the defensive specialists on both teams. Belmont's back three of Lyons, Alexandra Cellucci and sophomore Lucia Guzikowski provided goalkeeper Maria-Alice Menatas a reliable wall of protection. 

"They played tremendously," said Graham, who said they kept the Marauders' in the game in the first half when his team lacked a coherent passing game. 

"We played a lot of kick ball," said Graham.

It was in the midfield that Graham believed Belmont was able to control the tempo of the game and he pointed to his senior captain Russo as the lynch pin to his team's success.

"She was everywhere. She dominated out there. And she's so good with free kicks that we have a scoring chance when she takes the shot," said Graham. 

Newburyport was most dangerous at the start of the game and half – a shot rolled slowly just outside the goal line in front of the net – while Belmont appeared to pick up steam deeper in each half. 

Belmont was at its most dangerous on corner and free kicks, nearly scoring in the dying seconds of the first half from a corner that Lyons headed just wide of the right post. 

Newburyport's speed on the ball and combination passes forced many solo challenges to prevent clean shots on Menatas. It took a perfectly-timed swipe by Maggie O'Brien to knock to ball off the feet of Newburyport's Katherine Gorenflo who was in the clear with three-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game. Menatas was challenged by a shot that she directed over the cross bar. 

On the other end, Donovan stopped a threatening shot by Charlotte Alexander inside the 18-meter box. 

But it took the third corner of the 10-minute overtime to decide the match.

"It was a great team effort and we'll be back here Monday," said Lyons as she left to greet family and friends before boarding the bus for a loud trip back to Belmont. 

K. Bonnin November 11, 2012 at 12:23 AM
Congratulations! Enjoy the Finals!!
Jeff Hansell November 11, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Great job! BMC will be there Monday to cover the match. . .

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