Updated: Sep 24, 2022
Following a 1-0 loss to the University of Tennessee at Martin, Belmont women’s soccer looked for a needed victory against Southeast Missouri State University on Tuesday.
The win didn’t come. The Bruins lost 0-1 in an aggressively fought game.
In the first half, Belmont enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, dominating control of the ball on the pitch. The Bruins focused on pushing to win 50-50 balls and pressuring their opponents on heavy touches and poor passes, allowing them to begin several offensive runs close to midfield.
Due to Belmont’s aggressive defense, SEMO was forced to play primarily off of their back foot, resulting in a silent offensive threat and an easy half for goalkeeper Sarah Doyle and her back four.
SEMO’s only chances came from a few counter-attacking opportunities and long balls that were easily shut down by the Bruins’ defense. The Redhawks only had one shot the entire half, which was effortlessly collected by Doyle following a quickly taken free quick about 25 yards from the goal.
Although the Bruins had possession of the ball for the majority of the half, the team wasn’t without their offensive woes. Through balls were easily met by defenders or paced too slow or too fast and players couldn’t be found at the receiving end of crosses.
Belmont left the first half with a single shot towards the goal that strayed right of the post after a corner kick.
At the start of the second half, the Redhawks came out strong, fast and eager to make a difference in the game.
Despite SEMO’s increased pace, attacking midfielder Avery Nowak was able to find a one-on-one chance early in the half with the help of a through ball from striker Julie Garst. Nowak shot across the keeper to the bottom right of the goal, but her shot was just wide, hitting the inside of the post and bouncing back into play.
After Belmont’s close shot, a long ball played from SEMO’s defensive end of the field was met by wingback Grace Parsons who headed the ball with a bad touch, allowing a chance on goal for SEMO. In a desperate attempt to correct her mistake, Parsons tried to body SEMO midfielder Lexi Grote off of the ball but pushed a little too hard, resulting in a penalty.
SEMO striker Morgan McCourt lined up to take the spot-kick and drove her shot to the bottom right of the goal. Doyle read the hips of McCourt well and made a diving save. However, Doyle was unable to deflect the ball outwards towards the touchline and the ball was rebounded back into play.
Following Doyle’s dramatic save, Belmont was beaten to the rebound by SEMO’s Lauren Welker who smashed the ball above the keeper and into the roof of the net, putting the Redhawks ahead by one goal.
From this point, the Bruins tried to fight back to turnover a goal and draw level. They played high up the pitch and tried to maintain the same defensive pressure that worked well for them in the first half. They remained efficient at beating their opponent to 50-50 balls and continued to capitalize off of their mistakes.
Nonetheless, Belmont continued to have a tough time finishing offensively. Although opening up more on offense and getting players into the box for crosses, the Bruins could not find the back of the net. Again, the build-up play was satisfactory, but like in the first half, the team had trouble finishing their chances.
Following a late, offensive burst from Belmont, the referee blew the final whistle. Belmont was outshot 4-6 at the end of the half and was unable to put any shots on frame to test SEMO’s goalkeeper.
Despite the loss, Coach Heather Henson remains positive about her team and had several positives to draw from her team’s performance.
“We did a very good job of building our attack as a unit.” She said. “We also did a good job of connecting passes and stringing passes together that gave us offensive opportunities.”
Henson was also pleased with her side’s improvements from its previous game.
“I was proud of the team’s diligence to learn from the last game and bring that physical presence to tonight’s game and win the 50-50 balls. If we continue to make those improvements, if we get one percent better, look at what Friday’s going to be like. We just need to play our game and build our attack as a unit.”
The Bruins now fall to 1-0-2 and prepare for an away stint that takes them to Murray State University on March 12 and Tennessee Tech University on March 16.
This article written by David Pang.