EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.- After winning three straight games at home, the Belmont women's soccer team looks to take its momentum on the road on Thursday against SIUE.
The Bruins are currently sitting in third place in the OVC with nine points, with SIUE sitting just one spot behind Belmont in fourth place with eight points.
"You always want to continue to find the ball in the back of the net," head coach Heather Henson said. "We have to be focused on this game. No matter what we have done in the past, what we want to do in the future, the SIUE game is the most important because it's the one in this moment for us."
After defeating EIU and Tennessee Tech by one goal, Belmont came out in dominating fashion last Sunday against Jacksonville State 4-1. Senior Niki Clements collected the Bruins' first hat trick since Sept. 18, 2009, collecting OVC Offensive and Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Week.
Not only was Clements' milestone achieved, but several other players accomplished accolades over the weekend. Junior Julie Garst scored her 16th career goal on Sunday, moving her into a tie for the ninth-most goals in program history. Senior goalkeeper Lily Herman also passed Sari Lin (2008-11) in minutes to move into fourth for most minutes in program history.
With Belmont seeking its first win over SIUE since 2016, the Bruins look to carry that momentum into Thursday's match.
"Every milestone that our team or individual players achieve shows the continued growth of our program throughout its history," Henson said. "That's an important piece that we carry forward. We're continuing to make strides in the program and continuing to take those steps in growing as a program throughout its time here. Even with this year, we're seeing that because of obtaining those milestones. It takes everyone on our team to achieve those milestones."
.@Niki_Clements keeps collecting the accolades! ����— Belmont Womens Soccer (@BelmontWSoccer) October 9, 2019
The Tennessee Sports Writers Association announced that Clements has been named Player of the Week! ��
��| https://t.co/tD15RABPec#itsbruintime | #BruWIN pic.twitter.com/kzpmLG84Xd
Belmont has not won at SIUE since joining the OVC in 2012, with the Cougars leading the all-time series 4-2-1. The Cougars have thrived off scoring 14 goals in OVC play, the second most in the conference, but have given up 12 goals through six conference games.
The Bruins have only allowed five goals since conference play began, shutting out their opponents in two of the last three matches.
"Playing a solid team defense all over the field is important in any game and especially in any conference game," Henson said. "(SIUE coach) Derek (Burton) does a great job with his team and building their attack. It's going to be important for us to be good communicators and be on the same page in our team defending."
Having only been shutout twice this season, SIUE thrives off scoring and scoring efficiently. They have used that method to win two of its last three games, outscoring its opponents 11-2. The Cougars are coming off a 3-0 win over the defending OVC regular season champions UT Martin on Sunday, allowing them to move into a tie for fourth place with eight conference points. Belmont currently holds a one-point edge over SIUE to hold onto third place.
SIUE's top player is Mackenzie Litzsinger, who has scored seven goals on the season and has a shot percentage of .219. Angel Ikeda and Megan Keeven are added threats in the Cougars' offense,scoring three goals each this season. Jensen Schoch has been on point in the goal, coming up with 37 saves while only allowing four goals in just seven games. SIUE has outshot its opponents 185-145, averaging just over two goals per game in the process.