Updated: Sep 20
Wrapping up regular season play with senior night, Belmont women’s soccer faced a tough 3-0 defeat against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Sunday.
Despite the shutout game — the final regular-season OVC game for seven senior Bruins on the squad — Belmont head coach Heather Henson expressed positive thoughts afterward.
“Today was the day of opportunities for us. Another day to battle, another day to compete, another day to support their family,” she said.
A sunny, warm and windy afternoon E.S. Rose Park had Belmont in a headwind from the start of the first half, both literally and figuratively.
SIUE tallied two shots and a corner kick within the first 5 minutes of the match. Belmont’s defense, led by the reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Week Rachel Vernon, worked under pressure inside the box but caught some breaks thanks to quick turnarounds by the offense.
With 15 minutes left in the half, the Cougars’ No. 23 Mia Edwards broke through the backline to the right, leaving Belmont goalie Andrea Leitner chanceless with a strike to the left and into the back of the net.
Despite bold efforts to score in the second half, the Bruins ended the game with one shot by No. 2 Keely Cartrett. Although the offensive play progressed over the half, Belmont couldn’t shake SIUE’s steady defense.
“When you’re attacking like that and you’re trying to create opportunities, the risk is they’re gonna score another one,” Henson said. “But we still continued to try to push and try to press and try to put numbers forward.”
The Cougars took advantage of the home team’s risky play to strengthen their lead and secure their away victory.
After the final whistle, the women’s soccer seniors gathered with their families.
“It’s great to honor them because, as I told them, each of them came to Belmont to add to what we consider to be Belmont,” Henson said.
“They brought that each and every day, they grew into it, they built our culture and they continued to strengthen our culture and who we are as a family.”
Vernon, Leitner and Cartrett are playing their last seasons as Bruins alongside Sydney Cason, Haley Poynter, Kayla Monis and Erin Patterson.
Though they celebrate their time at Belmont, unfinished business awaits them in the OVC tournament.
“There’s two ways to win a championship: you go win regular season or you can win the tournament. We still haven’t missed out on our goal and what we want out of this season,” Henson said.
Sitting third in the OVC standings, Belmont will host its quarterfinal against the winner of No. 6 seeded Morehead State University and No. 7 Southeast Missouri State University. The game is set to start at 2 p.m. next Sunday at E.S. Rose Park.
PHOTO: Women’s soccer Bruins on the field of E.S. Rose Park at Sunday’s tough loss against SIUE. Belmont Vision / Nikiah Perry.
This story was written by Camden Morris and Jessica Mattsson.
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