Updated: Sep 28
Following Belmont’s 0-0 draw in the home opening game, the Bruins walked into E.S. Rose Park on Tuesday looking to defend their den against local rival Lipscomb University.
Belmont won 2-1 in a dramatic overtime battle.
It only took the Bruins six minutes to find the back of the net. Freshman Michael Saunders crossed the ball into the penalty box from the right-wing towards the far post, where it met junior Liam O’Brien, who tapped in a brilliant volley into the top left corner of the goal.
Not long after the Bruins’ first goal, junior Niccolo Dagnoni made an attempt at goal, striking the ball across the net and forcing Lipscomb’s goalkeeper to make a phenomenal cross-goal save.
From the very beginning, Belmont kept their front foot on the gas, preventing Lipscomb from finding any space to move their offense forward, and stealing possession in the midfield. The team relied less on the counterattack and focused more on offensive possession and chance creation.
Despite a few scares towards the end of the half, the Belmont backline had a comfortable 45 minutes.
The defense stopped a few runs down the left wing thanks to senior Esteban Lestido while on the opposite flank, senior Jack Shaw set up several plays for the offense. Due to Belmont’s high-pressure strategy, goalkeeper Cameron Petty wasn’t tested a single time.
Belmont left the first half with a one-goal lead, outshooting Lipscomb 6-3.
At the start of the second half, the Bruins had trouble building up their offense again. Although finding some moments in front of the goal later in the half, they were never able to meet the offensive pace that they had established before halftime.
Lipscomb controlled possession in the second half. A half in which they were able to find a solution to Belmont’s suffocating offense and barrage Belmont’s defense for most of the half.
Though going untested in the first half, Petty was met with several shots, forcing him to make three crucial saves. Two of which were extraordinary diving saves across the net.
Belmont defended well enough to prevent a Bison goal until a corner kick in the 88th minute, when Lipscomb defender Noah Golden, assisted by forward Hayes Wood, scored a late equalizer from close distance to send the two teams into overtime.
The Bruins had only a single shot compared to Lipscomb’s five in the second half. Momentum was not in Belmont’s favor going into overtime.
The first period of overtime was tough for Belmont, as Lipscomb seemed to enjoy possession of the ball for most of the first overtime half. With neither team putting any shots towards goal, it seemed as if Belmont was destined to draw in overtime two weeks in a row.
Nonetheless, the fight was not over for Coach David Costa’s team.
Five minutes into the second overtime period, O’Brien, with the help of a Dagnoni through ball, scored a screamer of a near-post goal from just inside the 18-yard box, catching the keeper off guard. O’Brien kept his composure, slotting the ball nicely into the bottom left corner with both power and precision.
O’Brien’s brace, which was scored in dramatic fashion, sealed the victory for the Bruins, who moved on to an unbeaten record of 2-1-0.
Coach Costa was very impressed with his team’s performance and was not surprised by the result.
“I was pleased with our work ethic on both sides of the ball, and I felt that the team managed the waves of the match very well,” he said. “Both goals were team efforts that were well executed, and we feel that some great partnerships are forming with our attacking players.”
Although the win was well deserved, Costa has some items that he would like to work on with his team in training.
“I would have liked for us to manage the game a bit better late and need to use that as a learning experience as we move forward to our next match and conference play,” he stated. “It is important that we continue to improve our ability to manage games and leads in the coming weeks, including our ability to maintain possession in the attacking half of the field as a means of defending.”
Belmont’s next game is away against Trevecca Nazarene University on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
This article written by David Pang