Updated: Sep 20
The Bruins’ dramatic two-match winning streak at home came to an end Thursday night after a defense-heavy contest against Western Kentucky University.
In a tight back-and-forth game on the home pitch at E.S. Rose Park, WKU ultimately defeated Belmont by one goal to nil. All the same, the Bruins impressed their coach with their ability to persevere and continue playing while down a goal through the final quarter.
“We’re going to battle to the end,” said women’s head coach Heather Henson. “You see it in the heart, because they’re still taking that last-minute shot. They’re still stepping in to win a ball defensively. The heart of them and our team comes from our core values.”
In the first half, Belmont came out strong, dominating possession and dictating the pace of the match.
The team took advantage of the wings to get into the final third of the pitch. Winger Anna Sweeney performed well on the flanks, beating the defender marking her and setting up multiple plays. Nonetheless, the Bruins had trouble following through on their chances, leaving them scoreless in the first half.
Defensively, the backline did well at slowing down the counter-attack and tracking aerial through balls. Despite a few corner threats and easily collectible shots, the four in the back — led by Loren House’s 90-minute showing, didn’t have much trouble.
At the halftime whistle, the two teams had three shots each, and goalkeeper Sarah Doyle managed to make three saves.
In the second half, Belmont continued to pressure its opponent and was successful for the most part. However, towards the last quarter of the battle, the Bruins allowed WKU to get into the game.
In the 73rd minute, defender Claire Fallon made a risky tackle just outside the 18-yard box, which gave WKU a free-kick in a prime position.
WKU forward Avery Jacobsen stepped up to take the free-kick at the top of the arch and slotted the ball just out of Doyle’s reach and into the bottom right corner to put her side ahead on the scoreline.
After conceding, the Bruins pressed high up the field in an attempt to draw level. Although the pressure worked to get possession back in WKU’s end of the pitch, they were unable to find an equalizer.
As the referee called full-time, WKU was more efficient with the ball as seven of its eight attempted shots were on target, while Belmont only managed to put four of its seven shots on frame.
Although the Bruins conceded to a late free-kick, it is worth noting that WKU was unable to score from open play, which is a testament to Belmont’s defensive persistence.
Despite the loss, Henson stands by her team’s performance.
“They listened to the game plan, and they executed the game plan. They did a fabulous job of taking our scouting report and bringing that to the game,” Henson said. “I think we saw it through their composure, and in their decision making.”
The team now prepares for a three-game away stretch, during which it will play its first conference game against Southeast Missouri State University on Sept. 26.
PHOTO: The action at E.S. Rose Park ended Belmont’s season record of 3-0-0 at home. Belmont Vision / David Pang
This article was written by David Pang.