Updated: Oct 5, 2022
Following two road wins, Belmont men’s soccer returned to E.S. Rose Park on Saturday night, drawing even in a six-goal thriller.
In a well-fought match, the Bruins jumped to an early, double lead before the Flames came back to take a 2-3 advantage. Belmont senior Case Cox provided the equalizer and recorded his first career hat-trick after coming back from a four-match absence.
Five minutes into the game, the Bruins won a corner off Cox’s throw-in. Belmont senior Jansen Wilson delivered the corner to find Cox, scoring his second of the season.
The Bruins maintained control of the match and in the 17th minute as the Kentucky duo, consisting of Wilson and Cox, made it 2-0.
Belmont performed well defensively with goalkeeper Nate Logan making key saves, but UIC shortened the Bruins’ advantage before the half as Aaron Nguyen fired a missile from well outside the box.
The Bruins started the second half quickly when junior Esteban Leiva stole the ball from UIC’s defense and set up Wilson, who was unable to finalize.
Minutes later, the Flames countered to tie the game 2-2 as UIC forward Josh Torres beat Logan with a shot in the bottom right corner from inside the box.
In the 59th minute, the Flames found the lead off a corner by UIC defender Pau Mateo. The Bruin defense was caught off-guard as the play leading up to the Flames’ corner was started by a throw-in misawarded to UIC by the referee.
Following the Flames’ advantage, the Bruins pushed to tie the game.
With less than three minutes left, Belmont junior Michael Saunders won a free kick close to the corner flag in UIC’s defensive third.
Wilson delivered the ball in the box, which was headed again by Cox, but this time on the crossbar. Senior defender John Bannec came to the rescue and placed the ball back into the mix for Cox, who found the equalizer in the bottom left corner.
This was the first match the Bruins had given up more than one goal at home since their last home loss in March 2021.
“I think we could have deserved more,” said Wilson. “But getting a point is never ever a bad thing.”
Cox agrees with him.
"We were able to defend hard and create chances late in the game and I feel like we could have came away with the win," said Cox.
Wilson registered his 5th and 6th assists of the season during the match.
“I’m told if I get the ball into a spot, they're going to get their head and score,” he said. “And all credit goes to Case and all the runners.”
The Bruins will stay in Nashville to host the University of Evansville Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park.
PHOTO Junior Esteban Leiva fights to win the ball against UIC on Saturday night. Isaac Wetzel/Belmont Vision
This article was written by Federico Pravettoni