For the fourth time this season, the Belmont women’s soccer team found itself playing yet another overtime game. This time the Bruins battled to a scoreless draw against the Georgia State Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
All three home matches at Rose Park have been sent into overtime for the Bruins.
“They are doing a great job of being engaged the entire 90, 110 minutes. That’s one of the big things I’m proud of,” said Belmont coach Heather Henson. “That’s what Belmont women’s soccer has done over the years is traditionally play until the very last whistle, whatever time that is.”
Freshman Tara Austin led the Bruins offensively with three shots, while senior Megan Byrd tallied five saves in her second start of her career for Belmont.
In the 23rd minute, Byrd tallied her first save on the afternoon when she made a diving jump to block a shot by Georgia State’s Whitney Raven from 20 yards out.
“I think Byrd makes saves in her range and is just a consistent goalkeeper. She’s comfortable in terms of confidence in her game and her team in front of her,” said Henson.
The Panthers continued to put pressure on the Bruins backline, and in the 31st minute, Georgia State’s Ashley Nagy sent a shot into the box off a corner kick. However, senior defender Kim Elmore made a goal line stand for Belmont and headed away the attempt.
“As a goalkeeper, they’re going to save us a lot of times at that last shot,” said Henson. “But Kim was a great example of saying, you know what, Byrd is going to come out after this ball, and I’m going to drop in.”
With the first half coming to a close, Austin rattled off three consecutive shots for the Bruins attack, including one that barely trimmed the crossbar in the 40th minute. Henson believes the freshman is becoming more comfortable in the Bruins offense.
“I thought she did a great job of recognizing where the pressure was and had a good first touch that prepped her into taking good shots,” said Henson.
The momentum from the end of the half carried into the start of the second half for the Bruins, who had several opportunities within the opening minutes. However, a couple of crosses toward the far post sailed wide for the Belmont forwards.
As the second half continued, both teams pressed and became much more aggressive in an attempt to maintain control of the game. However, neither team was able to find its footing and get off a clean shot.
With less than 30 seconds left in regulation, the Panthers were awarded a free kick, but the shot from Jenna Moore went high, forcing the game into overtime.
Throughout the first overtime period, the game kept the same pace from the second half as teams continued to alternate possessions and play physically.
With five minutes gone in the first overtime period, Elmore crossed a pass in for freshman Benicia Mendiola, whose subsequent header was sent wide. Less than a minute later, Georgia State had its own chance for the golden goal, but the wall of Belmont defenders kept the Panthers’ free kick at bay.
Despite the chances in the first overtime, the teams would battle until the final whistle blew in the second overtime with the game ending in the 0-0 draw.
“I felt that we were competing with them. They had some good size in the defense and moving forward,” Austin said. “That was a little difficult but I think that we faced adversity well.”
The Bruins travel to North Carolina for a two-game road swing where Belmont will face Appalachian State and UNC-Asheville.