MARTIN, Tenn.- Thanks to a game-winning overtime goal by Julie Garst, the Belmont women's soccer team advanced to Sunday's OVC Quarterfinals against No. 3 seed UT Martin with a 1-0 victory over Austin Peay in the first round of the OVC Tournament on Friday afternoon.
"We stayed true to us and our game plan. We stayed true to staying in the moment and lived in the moment," head coach Heather Henson said. "Julie's had many shot opportunities and it was the right place at the right time place for her to be able to score that goal. I'm elated for her as well as the team."
Appearing in their fourth straight OVC Tournament appearance, the Bruins came out of the opening kickoff firing shots immediately. Belmont had a one-on-one opportunity that resulted in two shots, with the Bruins collecting four shots in the first 10 minutes of play.
Belmont looked to move ahead in the 31st minute with a shot on goal, but Austin Peay's goalkeeper Mary Parker Powell came up with the save. The Governors looked to capitalize off a corner kick one minute later, but senior goalkeeper Lily Herman collected a critical save to keep the score tied 0-0.
"We had a good mix of a lot of adrenaline, but a lot of composure too," sophomore Erin Patterson said. "We knew what we came here to do and we knew our game plan. Having a lot of faith and confidence in our teammates, it made it easy to get firing quick and early."
Just like they did in the first half, Belmont came out controlling the offensive tempo to open the second half. The Bruins created a one-on-one opportunity in the 65th minute, but Austin Peay's defenders blocked the shot to keep the score knotted at zero.
The Governors looked to take advantage of a free kick with nine minutes left in regulation, but Herman protected the Bruins' net with a save. She finished the day with 10 saves, marking the second time this season where she has recorded double-digit saves.
Belmont came up with two more shot opportunities to close out the second half, but both were saved by Powell. The match was forced into overtime, with Belmont having to play in overtime in its third straight OVC Tournament match.
"Understanding the emotion, determination and perseverance that it takes to play in an OVC Tournament game, (the team) has been exposed to it so many times and they felt comfortable," Henson said. "They said in our huddle in the overtime: 'We've been here before. We know what this feels like, we know what we need to do,' It was very concise, consistent, and totally accurate."
Not wanting the match to have to come down to penalty kicks, Belmont quickly got to work. In the opening minute of overtime, the ball landed at Patterson's feet, who passed it off to Garst from 20 yards out.
Garst dribbled the ball into the penalty area, forcing Powell to move out to defend Belmont's leading scorer. Firing her ninth shot of the day, Garst put her fifth goal of the season in the back of the net that allowed the Bruins to capture the win.
The Franklin, Tenn., native registered her 17th career goal, moving her in a tie for the eighth-most goals in program history with Meggan Harris (1997-2000).
"It's tough getting the shots and not getting one to go in, but I really appreciate having (Mental Game Consultant) Tami (Matheny) and Coach (Henson) on the sideline just repeatedly telling me that 'I'm going to get it, I'm going to get it,'" Garst said. "It just helps me not get so frustrated with myself and to keep on going. I really appreciate them saying that to me and it was true."
Belmont will play in the OVC Quarterfinals on Sunday at UT Martin, with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.