Kicking off its season at E.S. Rose Park, the Belmont men’s soccer team secured a 2-0 shutout victory in a collective performance against the University of Southern Indiana Thursday night.
In a tight match within the first minutes, Belmont was able to succeed by staying compact and well-organized on the field and finalizing the counterattacking chances created in the final third.
Senior forward Liam O’Brien, who led the Bruins in the 2021 season with 19 goals, started off in great form marking his fourth career brace.
The first shot of the game for the Bruins came at the 13th minute when O’Brien, pressing and winning the ball back in the Screaming Eagle’s half, played junior midfielder Michael Saunders on the right flank, who crossed the ball in the box for junior AJ Chastonay to hit it over the bar in an attempted volley.
The Bruins’ first real chance, however, came at the 25th minute after a great combination between Chastonay, senior Jansen Wilson and a speedy Saunders, which resulted in an O’Brien goal to make it Belmont’s first of the 2022 season.
Saunders, one of the strongest threats on the field, continued to cause trouble on the right flank, with his quick changes of direction to disorientate the Screaming Eagle defenders.
After leading Southern Indiana at half with a score of 1-0, Belmont resumed the game with the same level of intensity and quality.
Belmont continued to push, and it was not long before O’Brien, assisted by sophomore Case Cox, doubled the score.
The Bruins sealed the first win of the 2022 season against a tough opponent, which made its first appearance back in Division 1 since 1994.
After a preseason of mixed results with two losses and a win, this was the perfect start.
“Regular season is different buzz compared to preseason,” said O’Brien. “So, it's always good to start with the win and hopefully to keep that momentum going into the next game and onto the rest of the season.”
The team is on the same page.
“From the first day that we got everybody back about four weeks ago and we had captain's practices, the energy and the intensity has been high and that's exactly what we need,” senior defender John Bannec said.
Bannec, along with the rest of the backline, did well to defend the goal and keep the clean sheet.
“That's our mindset,” said Bannec, “That's the first goal, because if you cannot allow goals, you're going to win games, you're going to get results.”
Graduate goalkeeper Nate Logan stood out in his Belmont debut, contributing to Belmont’s 10th shutout since the start of the 2021 season.
The Belmont men’s soccer team has not lost at Rose Park since March 30, 2021, and this year’s team wants to keep it that way.
“Winning is always enjoyable and solves a lot of problems,” said O’Brien. “Thankfully, we have a group of guys that will do anything on the field between the white lines to win games and get results.”
Belmont will face Purdue University Fort Wayne at Rose Park on Sunday.
“Everyone has the same goal in mind,” said O’Brien. “We want to lift two trophies at the end of the season and do something that no Belmont team has done before here.”
“The juices are flowing,” he said. “Everybody's buzzing, and it's shown tonight we've really got a result, let’s carry it into that.”
PHOTO: Issac Wetzel/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Federico Pravettoni