After wearing down Georgia State University in double overtime, Belmont men’s soccer brought home a 2-1 golden-goal victory at E.S. Rose Park Friday.
“It’s our first overtime game this year. It was a good test against a good team,” said forward Liam O’Brien. “Two wins in a row and then we get another one, so it is nice to get the momentum going.”
Coming out undefeated over their last three match-ups, most recently with a Labor Day one-to-nil win against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Belmont showed consistency in execution.
Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week Niccolo Dagnoni stood for another advantageous assist, resulting in a 1-0 lead for the Bruins. But it was senior O’Brien that netted both Belmont’s goals for the evening.
“I’m happy to make an impact and get a result for the team,” O’Brien said after the game.
The game frame leading up to the overtime Belmont win was indecisive, however, with solid play from Panthers and Bruins alike.
The opening few minutes for both sides were intense but cagey, with each team struggling to find a groove.
The first real scoring opportunity of the match came from GSU. SoCon Defensive Player of the Week, Bruins goalie Drew Romig, sprung into action with what resulted in a routine save.
Moments later, the Bruins built up an attack, and their dominant possession was rewarded with a goal from O’Brien in the 22nd minute of the game.
The opener seemed to settle the nerves as the Bruins began to play with great composure. The team utilized the flanks and played with wonderful width, controlling possession throughout the opening half.
GSU fired back aggressively in the second half after trailing in the first. Midfielder Bryan Silva put the Panthers back in the mix, tying the game 1-1 at 52 minutes.
With the prospect of overtime looming, both teams pressed for the winner, and despite seven Bruin chances to the Panthers’ four, neither side could break the deadlock.
As sudden death began, the Bruins stepped it up a notch.
Following a thrilling stretch into the Friday night, Georgia State could no longer hold off the Belmont onslaught. After a spectacular passage of play, O’Brien found the net with a terrific diving header following a fantastic cross from Jack Shaw, second-assisted by sophomore Michael Saunders.
“We don’t give up and we wear teams down,” O’Brien said. “We all play for each other; it’s a great culture here.”
No. 11 Jack Shaw assisted the winning goal Friday. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson
After his decisive strike, No. 17 O’Brien disappeared under a wave of Bruins as his teammates embraced him in celebration of another win, with head coach David Costa not too far behind the victorious pack.
Costa expressed his excitement for a well-executed game and the team’s improvement over the first five fights.
“Tonight was a great performance by our group,” Costa wrote in a post-game statement. “That is a very good Georgia State team and to play that way and get the result shows tremendous growth in our team since the beginning of the season.”
Now with three consecutive wins in the bag, the Bruins will prepare for a battle of the boulevard as they take on a nationally ranked neighbor when Lipscomb University hosts Belmont Tuesday.
The men’s soccer team is in a golden groove and looks forward to measuring its potential against the No. 21 Bisons, Costa wrote.
PHOTO: The Bruins surround No. 17, Liam O’Brien, after a game well played. Belmont Vision / Jessica Mattsson
This article was written by Jessica Mattsson and Finn Birnie.