After an off-season and three mid-August exhibition matches, the Belmont men’s soccer team is ready to kick off a new season.
The 2021 squad, which achieved a 13-5-1 overall record and went 4-2 in its Southern Conference matchups, now look to make a dent on the Missouri Valley Conference.
Falling short to American Athletic Conference’s University of Memphis and University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Bruins wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 4-0 victory against crosstown opponent Trevecca Nazarene University on Saturday.
Now the team shifts focus to the University of Southern Indiana, which it will face off against in its season debut on Thursday night at E.S. Rose Park.
Notable standouts on the team include senior defender John Bannec, midfielder Kyle Barks, forward Liam O’Brien, graduate student midfielder JP Armbruster, goalkeeper Nate Logan and junior forward A.J. Chastonay.
Contributing heavily to a program record nine shutout wins for the Bruins in 2021, Bannec and Barks are ready to continue building their outstanding defensive momentum and ability.
Like Bannec and Barks, O’Brien is also a senior coming off a phenomenal year.
In 2021, the 5’11’ forward from Freehold, New Jersey, scored 11 goals, achieved All-Southern Conference Second Team and received SoCon All-Tournament Team honors. O’Brien looks to pick up where he left off this season as a dominant offensive threat.
In addition to the several seniors on the squad, grad students Armbruster, who was named captain, and Logan will serve as team leaders.
Chalking up notes from former Belmont goalkeeper Drew Romig, who now plays for USL Championship League team Memphis 901 FC, Logan will serve as this year’s star player guarding the net.
Chastonay is another veteran ready to make his mark on the MVC. The junior from Louisville, Kentucky, has already racked up a handful of accolades as he was named to the 2021 United Soccer Coaches All-South Regional Third Team and the 2021 All-SoCon Second Team.
With many seniors and grad students leading the charge, experience won’t be a matter of concern for the Belmont squad.
After opening their season against Southern Indiana, the Bruins will play five non-conference matches before facing MVC opponent Bradley University on Sept. 16 at E.S. Rose Park.
Among their non-conference games, Belmont will travel to Lexington, Kentucky, on Sept. 2 to take on Southeastern Conference’s University of Kentucky Wildcats before returning home to battle it out with Nashville rival Lipscomb University on Sept. 6.
After Bradley, the MVC schedule will be in full swing as the Bruins are set to compete with the University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Evansville at home before traveling to Springfield, Missouri, to face the 2021 MVC champion Missouri State University.
The team will continue playing on the road from there as it plays Drake University and Atlantic Sun Conference’s Bellarmine University before facing Missouri State at home on Oct. 23.
The Bruins will finish up their regular season with a home match versus Eastern Illinois University on Oct. 26, and their final match at the University of Evansville on Nov. 2.
PHOTO: AJ Chastonay. Courtesy of Belmont Athletics
This article was written by A.J. Wuest