Men’s soccer home opener ends in a scoreless draw
Fresh off Sunday’s 3-0 win at Bellarmine University, the Belmont men’s soccer team returned to E.S. Rose Park on Thursday for the first home game of the season against Central Arkansas University.
Belmont played aggressively throughout the game, pushing the pace with counterattacking transitions and through balls that provided the team with several opportunities in front of the goal.
Yet, neither team broke the deadlock, and the game ended 0-0 after sudden death overtime.
Junior Niccolo Dagnoni attempted to put his team ahead early in the second minute with a shot on goal to the bottom right corner. However, his shot was met with a save from CAU’s goalkeeper.
In the last five minutes of the first half, CAU began to pressure the Bruins’ offense and dominate possession, resulting in an onslaught of shots and balls in toward goal. Just before halftime, junior goalkeeper Cameron Petty kept his composure in a two-on-one situation and made a crucial near-post block to keep Belmont level going into the second half.
Belmont walked away from the first half with three close shots, forcing CAU’s keeper to make two saves.
At the start of the second half, CAU continued to pressure Belmont with an aggressive, high press defense, while the Bruins continued to take advantage of the counterattack.
In the 59th minute, a breakdown in CAU’s defense allowed the Bruins to steal possession in their opponent’s half and play the ball through on goal to freshman Michael Saunders, who was unable to place a shot into the bottom right corner without the goalkeeper interfering.
CAU looked like the better side in the second half, outshooting Belmont 8-4. Still, the Bruins managed to get several good chances in on goal, only missing their attempts by narrow margins.
After the first 90 minutes ended in a draw, the two sides then prepared for two halves of sudden death overtime.
Both teams looked desperate to lock in a win, as possession switched back and forth between the teams. However, no goal came for either side.
Throughout overtime, Belmont’s defense closed down several attacks and was the impetus of many counterattacking opportunities. Petty also made two vital saves in overtime, sealing Belmont’s clean sheet.
Defensively, Belmont played well. Wingbacks Jack Shaw and Esteban Lestido held CAU’s attacking players to the wide ends of the pitch, forcing errors from the flanks, while center backs Eric Stiles and John Bannec managed to shut down any players closing in toward goal from the middle.
All things considered, Coach David Costa was pleased with his team’s defense against CAU.
“It was a very good team defending performance,” he said. “Notably the back four of Shaw, Stiles, Bennec, Lestido and Petty in goal. All were consistent and made plays in key moments to preserve the clean sheet.”
Costa was impressed with his team’s effort, discipline and organization. Looking forward, he would like to work on his team’s offense, he said.
“We need to continue to improve our ability in transition moments, especially after we win possession. This will allow us to generate more attacking chances,” said Costa.
Belmont’s next challenge is on Tuesday, March 2 at E.S. Rose Park, where they will take on local rivals Lipscomb University.
This article written by David Pang.