Bryan Green celebrated his first win as head coach for the Belmont men’s soccer team with a 2-0 shutout victory over Gardner-Webb Sunday afternoon.
“It took us six games to get our first win, but I think we showed a lot of the little stuff we’ve been working on. It finally came together, especially in the second half,” said Green. “We weren’t on our best, but we showed our resolve to hold onto the shutout and earn the second goal.”
Sophomore defender Nat Hubert scored both goals for the Bruins and led the team with four shots on the afternoon.
“We all love Coach Green. He absolutely deserves this, and we’re so glad to get that first win for him,” said Hubert.
The Bruins wasted no time putting pressure on the Runnin’ Bulldogs defense and created several shots within the opening minutes.
Belmont was rewarded for its efforts in the 10th minute after a foul on Gardner-Webb put the Bruins in excellent position on the edge of the 18-yard box. On the subsequent free kick, Hubert nailed the shot into the back of the net to give Belmont a 1-0 lead.
“The free kick was fantastic. It was great to be up a goal early in a game instead of down a goal. I thought we played really well in the first half after that,” said Green.
The early goal gave a confidence boost for the Bruins who found their stride throughout the midfield with combination play. In the 23rd minute, freshman Matt Vuylsteke nearly sent a shot in off the cross from Rashad Hyacenth, but keeper Matthew Swan stopped it with a diving save.
Hubert almost doubled the lead off another free kick opportunity, but Swan came up with the stop once again. Belmont went into halftime with the lead plus a 9-2 shot advantage.
Despite being down a goal, the Runnin’ Bulldogs kept the Bruins defense on their toes in the second half. Forward Denzel Clarke found an excellent opportunity to tie the game in the 53rd minute, but the shot was blocked and cleared by the Belmont backline.
In the 76th minute, senior midfielder Diego Figueroa fought his way through the backline and drew the foul inside the penalty box. Hubert had no trouble sending the penalty kick past Swan to double the lead for the Bruins.
“The penalty kick was good, and it was an unbelievable play by Diego to earn it,” said Green. “He did a good job and gave us 20 minutes off the bench. He kind of settled us.”
Pedro Balaguer attempted to score a third goal for the Bruins after making a fast run for the pass from Vuylsteke. The shot sailed high, but Belmont would maintain possession for the remainder of the game to complete the shutout.
Rector recorded three saves between the posts for Belmont for his first shutout this season. The Bruins outshot the Runnin’ Bulldogs 14-5 overall on the afternoon.
“We have a really good back five, including Grayson our goalkeeper,” Hubert said. “It’s way more important than any goals I scored today. If you have a clean sheet, you never lose.”
The Bruins travel down the boulevard to take part in the Lipscomb Invitational Sept. 19-21 against Houston-Baptist and Memphis.