Coming off an important first win, the Bruins tied Indiana’s Purdue University Fort Wayne in their second game of the season on a hot Sunday afternoon in E.S. Rose Park.
In a technical and quick-minded game in which both teams struggled to finalize, Belmont maintained good possession and came back after an initial 1-0 Purdue lead. With great team spirit and determination, the Bruins nearly won the game in the final seconds of the match.
The first half of the game saw the Mastodons score two goals, but both were disallowed due to an offsides call by the referee. Belmont’s best chances to score, although not capitalized on, came from the feet of seniors Jansen Wilson and John Bannec and junior Ayden von Essen.
In the start of the second half the Bruins continued to maintain possession while struggling to break through Purdue Fort Wayne’s defense.
At the 56th minute, Marco Valencia of the Mastodons hit a beautiful, curved shot from outside the box. Valencia put Bruin goalkeeper Nate Logan to the test, who kept the score as he tipped it away.
On the corner kick conceded from Valencia’s shot, however, Purdue Fort Wayne found the net off a header to take control of the match.
The Bruins persisted despite the disadvantage. Case Cox gave the Bruins the equalizer in the 79th minute with a stunning diving header as Michael Saunders got his second assist of the season.
Then the game changed completely for the Bruins, who continued to push through the Mastodons’ backline.
With under 30 seconds left, Belmont recovered possession and senior Liam O’Brien played a through ball over the top for von Essen, who tried his luck with a chip as Purdue’s goalkeeper Danny Salazar came out of the box.
Blocking the ball with his hands outside the box, Salazar was issued a red card by the referee and the Bruins were awarded a free kick just a few yards outside of the 18.
With 13 seconds left, Wilson took the free kick for the Bruins and hit the crossbar. Von Essen was not able to score off the rebound, heading the ball high.
Purdue goalkeeper Adam Hunt deflected Wilson’s free kick, saving the score and the game for Purdue Fort Wayne.
Despite the tie, Belmont remains unbeaten at home since March 30, 2021.
Graduate midfielder JP Armbruster believes Belmont had good spells of possession but lacked the finishing touch.
“Obviously, we're not satisfied with the result,” said Armbruster. “We feel like we could capitalize on some moments there at the end, especially after netting the first goal, but you know, I still think we showed a lot of character, you know, coming down from a one-nil deficit.”
Graduate goalkeeper Nate Logan had another good performance, despite conceding a goal where he was not at fault.
“I think we learned a lot,” said Logan. “The team showed a lot of resilience to get the equalizer at the end and keep pushing for the winner.”
“I think our mentality is really strong, yeah, we've shown that in these first two games,” said Armbruster. “But we know that collectively as a team, we got to put a full 90 minutes together.”
Belmont will hit the road for the first time of the season to face No. 8 ranked University of Kentucky on Tuesday.
PHOTO: Men's soccer during a match against University of Southern Indiana Isaac Wetzel/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Federico Pravettoni