GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Belmont Bruins fell 2-1 in its final regular season finale against the Furman Paladins at Eugene Stone Stadium Saturday evening. The Paladins notched the Southern Conference victory, despite junior midfielder Nigel Leo's 35th-minute goal for the Bruins.
Leo sparked the Belmont offense with his first-ever penalty kick score in the first half, as junior forward Jordan Dozzi recorded a team-high two shots.
The forward duo of junior Cole McLagan and senior Connor Hubbard led the way for Furman with one goal each.
The Bruins were the early aggressors, as they leapt out to a 2-0 advantage in the shot column to start the match. Dozzi fired Belmont's first pair of shots on the evening, but Furman would get on the board first.
McLagan drew a foul inside the box for the Paladins in the 20th minute to earn a penalty kick. He found the bottom-right corner of the net to give Furman a 1-0 lead.
The Paladins held the majority of the possession for the following 15 minutes, but the Bruins responded in a familiar fashion. Furman's handball inside the box on a Belmont free kick awarded the Bruins their third penalty kick of the season.
Leo connected for his first goal of the season on the penalty kick, as his shot found the top shelf and beat the Furman netminder in the 35th minute. The equalizer knotted the match up a 1-1 going into halftime.
The Paladins led the shot margin 8-2 through the first 45 minutes, but sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Petty was not forced to make a save for the Bruins.
Sophomore forward Ares Marlonsson saw open grass on a breakaway for Belmont in the 59th minute but was held off by a Furman defender.
The Paladins' first shot on goal to open the second half would find the back of the net for a 2-1 lead, as Hubbard capitalized on a well-placed cross in the 63rd minute.
Petty went on to make vital saves over the next 11 minutes for the Bruins to keep Furman at bay. Leo nearly registered a second equalizer in the final minutes of regulation time but was whistled offsides, as Furman tallied the 2-1 victory.
Overall, Petty corralled three saves on the night, as 16 different Belmont players logged minutes in the final match of the regular season. Leo now has three points on the this season, as he scored the second goal of his career (first of 2019) in the opening 45 minutes.
PERFECT ON PENALTIES: With Leo's goal in the 35th minute, the Bruins improved their penalty kick tally to a perfect 3-for-3 on the season. Dozzi and sophomore forward Niccolo Dagnoni notched the other penalty kick goals for Belmont this year.
UP NEXT: The Bruins return to E.S. Rose Park to host the seventh-seeded VMI Keydets in the first round of the 2019 Southern Conference Men's Soccer Championship Tuesday at 5 p.m. No. 6 seed Belmont will host the Keydets for the second-consecutive season in the opening round of the postseason tournament.
David Costa, Head Coach
"We are disappointed to lose tonight, but I was pleased with our work rate, desire and commitment to the gameplan throughout the match. Cameron Petty has continued to be excellent in goal for our team. Playing four matches in seven days is not easy, and we had guys step up tonight and give good performances. Congratulations to Furman and Doug Allison on winning the Southern Conference regular season. We are excited to return home and begin tournament play on Tuesday."