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Valpo vanquished

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In a physical game filled with fouls, an untimely one by Valparaiso set up the Belmont women's soccer team for the lone goal in a 1-0 victory at E.S. Rose Park on Sunday evening.

Deadlocked in a scoreless stretch of physicality just before halftime, the Bruins drew a foul inside the left corner of the attacking 18-yard box to set up freshman forward Gentry Davis (Spring Hill, Tenn.) with a penalty shot in the 44th minute. Davis calmly slotted her shot just inside the left post for the first goal of her Bruin career and the day's game winner.

The win pushed Belmont's unbeaten streak to three games (2-0-1), all during its season-long three-game home stand. The Bruins are 2-3-1 overall at the completion of nonconference play.

"It's very intense, very nerve-racking, because you know everyone's staring at you in that moment," Davis said of approaching her penalty shot. "It's so intense, but that was probably one of the best moments that I've had here so far. Hopefully I can continue to build on that."

The Bruins made the halftime lead stand up thanks to a stingy defense and the best outing of the season by junior goalkeeper Lily Herman (Springboro, Ohio). Herman matched her season high with seven saves, but her play disrupting the Valparaiso attack wasn't limited to just those shots.

Herman scooped up loose balls and corralled dangerous crosses to limit the opposition's opportunities. The goalkeeper praised the work of her teammates in front of her in helping her be in the right spot so often.

"The balls that were coming at me, they were easy for me to collect because our defense was just doing such a great job," Herman said. 

Both teams finished with 14 shots, but the game may have been won in the middle of the field where Belmont's physical play put pressure on the Crusaders. In a game that featured 32 total fouls and a yellow card on each side, the Bruins appeared less troubled by the physical nature of play, never getting flustered.

"We knew it was going to be a physical battle and we were going to have to step up to that," said Belmont Head Coach Heather Henson. "Right away we were tested with that and I'm very proud of how they were able to deal with it because it could have made the game go one way or the other.

"As the intensity started to notch up, both teams stepped up to that, and we were able to do that throughout the game. I was very proud of their response."

The win was No. 52 for Henson's Belmont tenure, pulling her into a tie for most victories by a head coach in program history. She and the Bruins will go for the record-breaker next Friday as Belmont begins Ohio Valley Conference play. The Bruins visit Austin Peay that day at 6 p.m.