Belmont women’s soccer hosted Missouri Valley Conference rival Valparaiso University Thursday night as the Bruins fell short to the Beacons 2-1 at E.S. Rose Park.
Wearing its hot pink uniforms to honor breast cancer awareness month, the Belmont offense jumped to a hot start as freshman Addy Pitts took a shot in the eighth minute but misfired just to the left of the net.
Not wasting any time, Belmont looked determined to secure the first goal when junior Maci Pekmezian took her shot in the 11th minute to take the 1-0 lead.
“Whenever you can come away and instruct the game by putting the ball in the back of the net, it puts you in a situation where you feel in control,” head coach Heather Henson said after the game. “It reinforces that our game plan is working, and everybody likes immediate gratification.”
The Bruins stayed alive for the remainder of the half as senior goalkeeper Sarah Doyle came up with several key saves.
In the 30th minute, Doyle grounded herself to record an impressive diving save to keep the Bruins in control of the match.
“Sarah does a phenomenal job,” Henson said. “She’s super aggressive off the line, she has good confidence, she has good poise, she reads the game very well and she has an ability to vocalize and organize the unit right.”
Leading 1-0 at half, the Bruins looked to finish off the second 45 minutes with the same energy as the first.
But when Beacon midfielder Molly O’Rear provided the equalizer in the 52nd minute, Belmont had its hands full.
After coming up with another key save in the 69th minute, Doyle was faced with the challenge of blocking a penalty kick in the 75th – but the ball slid just past her at the bottom right of the goal.
Trailing 2-1 with 14 minutes remaining, Belmont fought hard to find the equalizer but ultimately fell short as the Valparaiso defense held ground to secure the victory.
Although the Bruins lost the match, Henson believes her team is taking steps in the right direction.
“We’ve just continued to say, ‘one game at a time’ and trust the process,’” Henson said. “We’re focused on getting better.”
Henson also weighed in on the importance of breast cancer awareness.
“I just love the fact that tonight we had an opportunity to play for something bigger than ourselves,” she said. “We’re playing for all the survivors and ultimately playing to glorify God.”
“And I think tonight, they did that. They did that in how they played the game, they did it in how they respected their opponents and they did it in how we can serve others,” Henson said.
After Thursday’s loss, Belmont stands with a 4-4-5 overall record and will play its final home match of the season against the University of Evansville on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
PHOTO Ben Burton/Belmont Vision
This article was written by A.J. Wuest