Updated: Sep 20
Belmont men’s soccer outperformed its opponent on home turf once again Saturday with a 1-0 sunset victory over the Wofford College Terriers.
Going 8-1-1 over the past ten games, the triumph marks the Bruins’ seventh shutout of the season and breaks the school record for longest winning streak at home.
“Tonight’s game was huge for us. It gives us another opportunity to control our own destinies when we move forward in the conference standings and that’s exactly what we want,” senior defenseman John Bannec said after 90 minutes on the field.
The destined scorer, sophomore and fellow defender Case Cox, headed in the lone goal of the game with such precision and power that the Terrier goalie Joshua Old didn’t have a chance of saving it.
Before the highlight of the header, a physical game resulted in fouls from both sides and a saved shot on goal by Belmont’s Liam O’Brien.
“I thought we did well,” Bannec said. “We scored early, we were physical, and we were able to just be hard to break down … and Case had a big play on that goal,”
Cox’s first career goal came in the 17th minute of the match and captain Niccolo Dagnoni stood for the free-kick assist launched from the left of Wofford’s box.
Keeping the physical game going, the Bruins made five more fouls versus the Terrier’s six. Both teams failed in delivering balls on-target, and the first half wrapped up with Belmont keeping a one-goal lead.
Kicking off the second half, the Terriers continued hunting for an equalizer.
Forcing the Bruins to absorb more pressure, Belmont’s goalkeeper, senior Drew Romig, backed up his hard-working team with some stellar saves.
“Our backline has been unbelievable. I mean, I think in the first half there may have been no shots on goal, second half we had a few more, and I was called on and was able to come up big for my team,” Romig said.
And the North Carolina native has come up big the entire season, ranking top-25 nationally with his .837 saves percentage. Romig is also climbing the Bruin ladder with his sixth shutout of the season, tying university records set by former goalies Matt Renfrow in 2003 and Ron Gravely in 2007.
Looking beyond his dominating play between the goal posts, the squad’s collective success builds on confidence in each other’s abilities, Romig said.
“We just really trust in one another. If one guy breaks down, the other person is gonna have your back, and that goes for every guy on the field, all the way to me,” he said.
Wofford’s last chance to score Saturday came down to the Belmont goalie with 5 minutes to go.
This time, Wofford’s Brandon Oddy charged a sharp shot at Romig, but Belmont’s goalie steered the ball into the top bar after getting his fingers on it at the last second. It bounced off his back, dangerously close to the goal, but Romig followed up his decisive game-making save by securing the ball on the ground.
The 90-minute buzzer signaled Belmont’s third Southern Conference win of the season, and the Bruins’ fall record suggests strong momentum. But not to let the winning streak go to their heads, the Belmont men have their eyes on the greater goal of teamwork.
“We start winning a few games and we don’t get too happy about it, we don’t get amused, we just keep our head down and keep working and I think that carries our momentum forward, game in game out,” Bannec said.
“When we’re working together it’s hard for anybody to beat us.”
Regular-season home games wrap up against SoCon rival University of North Carolina at Greensboro on Oct. 16. Next up for men’s soccer is an Oct. 12 non-conference match against the University of Evansville with a start time of 6:30 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park.
PHOTO: Belmont scorer Case Cox cruising down the field at E.S. Rose Park Saturday. Belmont Vision / Nikiah Perry.
This article was written by Jessica Mattsson.