MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Belmont women's soccer team put the pressure on Middle Tennessee State in the second half Sunday, but an early deficit proved too large to overcome. The Bruins fell 5-3 in a non-conference game at Dean A. Hayes Stadium.
Belmont trailed 5-1 at the break, but never quit and looked like a new team coming out of the halftime locker room. The visitors quickly whittled the Blue Raiders' lead down to two in just the opening six minutes of the second half.
"You can come back when you're that far down in a first half, but to be able to come back (you need to) change your game and be a totally different team. That is a huge piece to it," said Belmont Head Coach Heather Henson. "Scoring those two goals emphasizes and reinforces the fact that we need to bring that effort, bring that energy and bring that calmness on the ball (the entire game)."
Senior midfielder Emily Whitcomb (Elmhurst, Ill.) scored her first goal of the game in the 48th minute by cleaning up a corner kick that led to a bouncing ball in the box. Junior Hannah Diaz's (Greensboro, N.C.) corner kick pinged off the crossbar and into traffic, where Whitcomb was in position to get a hard strike on the loose ball.
"That momentum was insane and really carried us," Diaz said of the early goal. "Everyone fed off of everyone's energy, the sideline was going crazy and that really blew us off our feet and helped us get two goals. Everyone was bringing energy."
Belmont cashed in thanks to its pressure again just four minutes later. The Bruins drew a foul in the box to set up a penalty kick, the third overall of the match between the two teams. Senior defender Sarah Bossung (Nashville, Tenn.) slotted the free shot past a diving MTSU goalkeeper, Celeste Barnard, to bring the score to 5-3.
Despite several more chances, the Bruins could draw no closer before the final whistle. Sophomore goalkeeper Abby Hunt (Surrey, B.C., Canada) posted a shutout after coming on in relief at the half. She had a pair of saves.
Belmont started the first half hot as well, going over the top just two minutes into the game with a lightning strike of offense. Junior BU goalkeeper Lily Herman (Springboro, Ohio) served up a long pass out of her own end that found sophomore forward Julie Garst (Franklin, Tenn.) in space in the attacking third. Garst buried the shot just 2:24 into the match to give Belmont its first lead of the very young season, 1-0.
"Our visualization, I think that is a piece of the puzzle to be able to get an early goal for us," Henson said. "We've just got to keep moving forward with it, not score and then back off. We need to be able to keep it going."
Instead the Blue Raiders answered in the fifth minute and the adversity snowballed. By the 40th minute, the Bruins trailed 5-1 with a pair of MTSU goals – both from Hannah Tillett – coming on penalty kicks.
The Bruins (0-2-0) next play Western Carolina on the road in Cullowhee, N.C., on Sunday, Aug. 26. That non-conference game against the Catamounts is slated for noon Central Time.