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Field Hockey's Tripped by Watertown, 2-0, in Opener

Belmont's back line will anchor young team during rebuilding season.

After losing 13 seniors – including midfield stalwart Becca Moore who is playing for Division II Bentley University – from last year's Division II North Sectional finalist, Head Coach Jessica Smith knew this year was going to be a classical "rebuilding" year for Field Hockey.

"They're so young so we'll find out how they handle playing together," said Smith a few weeks before during the first practices.

And what better test to throw a collection of juniors and sophomores into than the state's most dominate field hockey team in the past five years?

Last year's state champions, Watertown High School also lost a number of seniors thatincluding three-year star Erika Kelly – who is starting for Division II Stonehill College – but it seems that the Red Raiders have a continuing pipeline of talented young players coming up to restock an impressive team headed by coaching legend Eileen Donahue.

And it was just one of those youngsters, freshman Michaela Antonellis, who scored from the side of the goal with 27 second left in the first half which matched up with senior Jane Grzelcyk's tally seven minutes into the game gave the Red Raiders (1-0-0) a 2-0 win in the season opener for both teams.

Yet there was a great deal of encouragement on the Marauders (0-1-0) sideline as Smith saw her charges get into the rhythm of the game and played even with the state champions for the final 30 minutes.

"It seems like we're rebuilding quickly," said Smith after the game.

Like last season, the team will be anchored by a solid backline which Friday frustrated Watertown as they attempted to maneuver through the center of the pitch. Led by junior Kendel Brown and seniors Maddy Devine and Natalie Alpert, the trio will be the anchor for Smith as her all new front line develops as the season continues. 

"Right now they are waiting for the ball to be in front of them to hit it. So we will need to practice on passing and hitting," said Smith.

Belmont had three penalty corners off the quickness of promising forwards Sydney Perkins and Suzanna Noone, who is joined by her sisters Katelyn and Catherine on the team. Substitute senior Puspa Gurung was a non-stop running machine in the midfield, destroying Watertown's long-passing game.

"I think when we start scoring, I think that we are better than .500 team and we should make the playoffs," said Smith. "And field hockey is like the NFL, all you want to do is make the playoffs because that's when you can surprise teams," she added.

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