BELMONT — The Division 2 North first-round match between Middlesex League boys’ soccer rivals Arlington and Belmont featured two bursts of goals, 18 total shots, and 100 minutes of top-notch play.
Visiting Arlington mounted an impressive second-half comeback to force overtime, but host Belmont registered two key saves in the penalty shootout and prevailed, 4-3, in a thriller on a chilly Wednesday night.
Belmont (11-4-2) will host Marblehead (9-7-3) in a quarterfinal Saturday.
“That was a perfect playoff game to have, in terms of the entertainment value of it,” said Belmont senior captain Spencer Price. “We stuck with it really well. I’m so proud of everyone.”
The game featured a repetitive theme: Belmont struck, then Arlington responded. The Marauders got an opening goal from Brabo just six minutes into the game, but the Spy Ponders came back just seconds later with a goal from senior Sean Connelly. At the start of the second half, Jon Brabo was able to give Belmont a two-goal cushion in the 45th minute, but Arlington senior Perry Sofis-Scheft scored in the 47th to keep the game within reach.
Arlington (9-6-3) tied the game in the 66th minute when freshman Aidan Sheehan sent a shot from the left side of the goal just out of the reach of Belmont senior keeper Finbar Rhodes.
Belmont managed to regain composure after Arlington’s second-half surge, though, and carry play for most of overtime (the Marauder had three shots on target in the extra time).
“It was a gritty win,” said Belmont coach Brian Bisceglia-Kane after his squad registered its third win over their rival this season.
“I felt like they had the momentum more in the second half. We showed a lot of resiliency. That’s what we preached the whole season. Just super proud of the guys.”
The shootout was tied after four rounds, and junior Michael Ciano led off the fifth round with a goal for Belmont. Rhodes came up with a diving save at the right post on the next attempt, clinching the win.
“It’s so scary,” Price said of watching his teammates in the shootout. “You hope for the best, you root for everyone. At that point it’s like flipping a coin.”
Charlie Wolfson can be reached at email@example.com.