Coming off two MVC home losses, the Bruins dug deep for a 2-1 win against Evansville Sunday in their last MVC home game of the season.
Celebrating seniors Mai Thy Nguyen, Emily Abdoney and Taylor Dorenkott, the Bruins played a close, scoreless first half, before sophomore Leah Firsdon scored her first career brace, giving the Bruins the three points in the second 45 minutes.
With the win, Belmont secured its first Missouri Valley Conference home win of the season, celebrating the seniors with a victory.
“Today was focused on an opportunity to play for them and give everything we have and be selfless to those three,” said head coach Heather Henson. “We're going to honor them and we're going to honor them with our heart, our battle, our desire to play.”
The Purple Aces started the game strong, hitting the crossbar just after three minutes.
In the 10th minute, Evansville came close to an early lead again, almost causing a Belmont own-goal. But goalkeeper Sarah Doyle made the save to keep the score even.
Belmont struggled to create concrete scoring opportunities, but improved possession and presence in the final third for the remainder of the half gave freshman Olivia Walker enough space to put a shot just above the crossbar.
In the second half, both teams came back on the field with different attitudes and looked to break the deadlock.
In the 47th minute, the Bruins came close to scoring with a left-footed shot by sophomore Anna Sweeney, but her chance was saved by Aces goalkeeper Sophie Lindner.
As the intensity rose, Belmont won the lead in the 54th minute with a header inside the box by Bruin sophomore Leah Firsdon, on a play initiated by freshman Eliza Paisley’s free kick.
As the Bruins continued to push, Firsdon scored again in the 63rd minute with a precise shot in the top right corner.
Despite the two-goal advantage, the Bruins’ defense conceded a penalty kick. Evansville forward Emily Ormson scored from the spot, which allowed the Purple Aces back into the game with more than 20 minutes left to play.
Still Belmont managed to reject Evansville’s attempts to cut through the defense, thanks to a handful of saves by Doyle in the last 10 minutes.
Sunday’s game gave the Bruins the opportunity to get back on track after losing two-straight October games at home.
“Our goal in every game is to go after three points in conference play. And if we leave with one, at least we're making steps forward,” Henson said.
“We just rushed ourselves and we didn't need to. So it's just reminding us, let's go back to that, right, and stay true to ourselves no matter if they play real direct, we fall in, we stay disciplined within our system and keep possession of the ball and keep building.”
Wrapping up their regular season in Iowa, the Bruins will hit the road beginning with a match against Drake University on Thursday and the University of Northern Iowa on Sunday.
This article was written by Federico Pravettoni