Updated: Sep 24, 2022
Following an away win at Jacksonville State University, the women’s soccer team returned to E.S. Rose Park on March 5 to open up their home season against the University of Tennessee at Martin.
The Bruins lost 0-1 in a tough game.
Belmont had a slow start to the game and had a hard time finding their footing. In the first 25 minutes of the first half, possession was controlled by UTM. Belmont’s offense struggled to find the final third end of the pitch, only making it a few yards past the half field marking.
Despite some offensive shortcomings, Belmont was able to hold their shape defensively, and met any incoming chances with high pressure and strong tackling.
Most noticeable in Belmont’s defense was senior wingback Grace Parsons, whose physical defending stopped numerous runs down the Bruins’ right flank. Furthermore, Parsons was a popular target for several wall passes and wide plays, making her a crucial cog in Belmont’s offensive strategy.
Another player who stepped up in Belmont’s backline was sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Doyle. Doyle made five saves in the first half, making sure that the Bruins remained even going into the second half.
Concerning her goalkeeper’s performance, Coach Heather Henson seems to be happy with Doyle’s current run of form.
“She shows us that she can step up and perform when we need her to. She has done it within both of our games. She has stepped up and played within the flow of the game and is always ready to make saves.”
In the last 20 minutes of the first half, Belmont’s offense became more present, and a giveaway in UTM’s half-field led to a one-on-one situation between senior forward Julie Garst and the opposing keeper. Garst made an attempt to chip the ball over UTM’s goalkeeper at the top of the 18-yard box, but the shot went wide by mere inches.
Belmont only had one shot in the first half compared to UTM’s seven.
In the second half, possession was primarily fought at the midfield and the Bruins tried to maintain their strong defensive strategy in the first half. However, they were unable to close down on a lot of chances, allowing UTM to outshoot them 8-2.
Although a majority of UTM’s shots missed their mark, Belmont eventually conceded a goal in the final 15 minutes of the game. With the help of forward Emely van der Vliet, midfielder Skylar Boes managed to dribble around the defense and slot the ball past Doyle into the bottom left corner.
The home side fought hard in a late and desperate bid to draw level again, but UTM locked down their backline and prevented any passes from getting through to goal. A much-awaited home opener had ended in an unfortunate defeat for Belmont.
Coach Henson sees this game as a learning moment and is looking to improve her team’s drive and aggression.
“UT Martin executed their plan very well and that challenged us, but that’s how we get better. What we’re going to take from this is we have to step up and win 50-50 balls,” She said. “We have to challenge ourselves. We have to go for the win. We have to play faster. When they’re getting pressed, we have to be able to get it and do it at a faster pace.”
The women’s soccer team plays its next game against Southeast Missouri State University on Tuesday, March 9, at E.S. Rose Park.
This article written by David Pang.