NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Bringing hard-nosed defense to Tennessee Tech on Friday night, the Belmont women's soccer team came up with a 1-0 victory in front of a season-high 467 fans at Rose Park.
The victory marked the first time the Bruins defeated Tennessee Tech since 2014.
"I'm extremely proud of the defense," head coach Heather Henson said. "I think defending is literally from our goalkeeper all the way up to our front runners. They did a good job of sticking with our game plan, staying compact and eliminating inside opportunities for them."
.@Niki_Clements had a career-high seven shots against EIU without a goal. It only took her one shot to score tonight's game-winning goal ��— Belmont Womens Soccer (@BelmontWSoccer) October 5, 2019
Here's the ��of this ��score! #itsbruintime | #BruWIN pic.twitter.com/3IDgCc6eAO
Belmont made it clear from kickoff that it was going to be a physical battle, with the Bruins committing four fouls in the first 20 minutes. That aggression, however, translated into tough defense in the first half.
The Bruins allowed Tennessee Tech's only two shots on goal opportunities in the first 45 minutes, resulting in two saves for senior goalkeeper Lily Herman.
"The defense was really solid, but we were able to keep the ball longer on offense," senior Niki Clements said. "The challenge is just making sure we keep possession of the ball because any chance they have, they're going to be going direct to try to get to the goal."
Clements collected a career-high seven shots in last Sunday's match against Eastern Illinois, but none resulting in a score. She only needed one shot to come up with the deciding goal on Friday.
Off a free kick in the 49th minute, Kameron Ziesig kicked in the direction of the goal toward senior Mackenzie Firek. Firek quickly fed Clements for her first goal of the season and gave Belmont the 1-0 lead.
Ziesig logged her second assist of the season while MacKenzie Firek came up with her second career assist, her first since Oct. 27, 2016 at Jacksonville State. Clements recorded her third career goal, her first since Sept. 7, 2018 against UAB.
"In those past couple of games, I told her to keep doing it because it's going to come," Henson said. "She stayed focus in the moment tonight instead of saying 'oh no.' She stayed focused in the moment, she knew her opportunity would come, she kept her composure and was able to put it in."
Belmont tackled the challenge of shutting down Tennessee Tech for the final 40 minutes, with the Golden Eagles getting the ball close to the penalty area throughout the course of the second half. The Bruins, however, limited the Golden Eagles to five shots, forcing them all off target, to collect its third win of the season and to remain undefeated at Rose Park.
The win also gave Belmont three points in the OVC standings, jumping them into a tie for fifth with Eastern Kentucky.
"We just have to keep the momentum going," Herman said. "Tami (Matheny), our mental coach, said we just have to take it moment by moment and I know that's what everyone here focused on. Since we did, we were just able to focus on winning each moment and that resulted in a win itself."
Belmont caps off the homestand on Sunday, facing Jacksonville State in its annual Think Pink game at 2 p.m. at Rose Park.