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Women’s soccer loses heartbreaker versus SEMO

Days after its first conference loss, the Belmont women’s soccer team dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker against Southeast Missouri Sunday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park.

Natasha Minor scored the game winner on a penalty kick after the Redhawks drew a controversial penalty in the final minutes.

With the loss, Belmont falls to 1-2-2 in OVC action and 4-5-4 on the season.

“Whenever you lose late in the game on a penalty kick, it’s obviously difficult. In terms of shots and opportunities, I think on the whole we created more. I thought we did a good job playing in our game plan and building our attack,” said Belmont head coach Heather Henson.

An early chance for the Bruins came on a counterattack in the fifth minute led by Meg Howard, who tried to find freshman Tara Austin in the box. But the SEMO defense cleared away the attempt.

Junior Emily Proud recorded the first official shot for the Bruins when the midfielder sent a high-flying shot over the far post. Moments later, senior Taylor Smith outstretched her leg to attempt a shot but couldn’t create a clean chance.

In the 22nd minute, Sunni Kesenich found Minor open at the top of the box, who then sent a shot toward Belmont keeper Lindsey Epse. However, the junior stepped up to grab the difficult save.

As the first half progressed, senior Alison Alcott produced several chances off four free kicks for Belmont and found a wide-open Howard in the 29th minute, but the play was called offside.

The Redhawks almost scored minutes later on a shot by Kesenich. However, it rang off the far post to the right of Epse.

By the end of the first half, Belmont doubled the shot total of SEMO to hold a 10-5 advantage.

The Bruins picked up the tempo to start the second half, firing three consecutive shots. For the next few minutes, Belmont forced SEMO’s keeper Kindra Lierz to make difficult stops against the Bruins attack.

As the second half progressed, the physicality of the game increased for both teams. The match would eventually end with a combined 19 fouls, 12 of which occurred in the second half.

“It’s the game. You can’t control the officials, and you have to play through that. We have to find ways to overcome that and continue to play,” said Henson. “I thought we did a decent job of doing that no matter what was happening with the calls.”

With 15 minutes remaining, Allie Hicks created a one-v-two opportunity against the Redhawks and hit a shot 5 yards away. However, the shot was deflected by the Redhawk defender.

As both teams continued to push forward, the Redhawks managed to draw the penalty against the Bruins backline. The officials determined the foul occurred inside the box and awarded a penalty kick to SEMO, which Minor had no issue with for the goal.

The Bruins were forced to play a man down for the final three minutes after Smith earned her second yellow card of the afternoon. The game would end 1-0 in favor of SEMO.

Overall, the Bruins outshot the Redhawks 19-10 and held a slim 4-3 advantage for corner kicks. Epse recorded six saves on the afternoon for Belmont while Lierz earned four saves for SEMO.

Belmont will travel next weekend for a pair of road games against Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State. The Bruins will face the Golden Eagles on Friday with the match set for 3 p.m.

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