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Fighting to the Finish

Fighting to the Finish

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Playing its second Power 5 team in the last three seasons at Rose Park, the Belmont women's soccer team finished Thursday night's game against Georgia in 0-0 draw in double overtime. 

Georgia tallied 20 shots, but Belmont senior goalkeeper Lily Herman registered a season-high eight saves in the Bruins' home opener. 

"I could not have asked more from every single player on how they defended," Herman said. "They really high pressed. They had a lot of runners coming in the box and I think we communicated really well. We stayed really organized and that takes a lot of pressure off when it comes to actually getting a touch on the ball and actually getting a header out. If you do that work beforehand, it just makes it easier." 

In front of 293 fans, Belmont fed off the crowd early defensively and took away Georgia's offensive opportunities while turning it into offense of their own. Belmont's defense took Georgia out of rhythm, with the Bulldogs being called for four offsides calls in the early minutes. The Bulldogs continued the aggression by coming up with three shot on goal opportunities in the first 30 minutes of the match, but Herman kept the Bruins alive with three crucial saves. 

"(Herman) came into this senior year with a desire and a commitment to show the team how fit she wanted to be and how ready she wanted to be," head coach Heather Henson said. "She wanted to show them that she could lead. I think the plays you saw tonight is a great example of when she steps up, (the team) will follow her." 

Having 21 fouls called on both sides in Thursday's match, play was only intensified heading into the locker room. Junior Julie Garst and Georgia's Cecily Mohammed came up with shot opportunities to end the first half, with Belmont carrying the momentum after turning up a notch defensively. 

Play continued to boil in the second half, but senior Niki Clements created opportunities for the Bruins to snag the go-ahead lead. Clements collected both of her shots in the second half, with her one shot on goal almost going in the net and was saved by Georgia goalkeeper Liz Brucia with five minutes to play in regulation. 

The Bruins kept the Bulldogs quiet for the final five minutes, forcing the first overtime game of the season and the first overtime game for Belmont since Oct. 26, 2018. Aggression continued to be a factor, as both teams continued their chippiness and were called for a yellow card each. 

Belmont held off Georgia's offensive attack to finish the double overtime in a draw, the first non-conference draw since Sept. 7, 2018 and the first draw against a Power 5 school. 

"I couldn't be more proud of the defensive work for the ladies," Henson said. "I think we had some opportunities where we lost the flow of the game itself, but we were able to gain it back. I think being at home is always great and playing an SEC team, quality teams, that makes us better. I'll take that any day of the week in our preparation for the OVC."

Belmont continues non-conference play at Rose Park on Sunday, matching up with Evansville at 2 p.m.