CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.- The Belmont women's soccer team continues its run in the OVC Tournament on Friday, facing No. 2 seed Murray State in the semifinals at 3 p.m.
Belmont is the first No. 6 seed to advance to the OVC Semifinals since 2015, with the last No. 6 seed to do it being SEMO, who advanced all the way to that year's championship match.
"This final four weekend is what you train all year long for, so it's extremely exciting to get to this point," head coach Heather Henson said. "We're not going to just be happy with just being here. We're coming out to focus on Friday night's game and to see our overall goal for the season."
The Bruins are coming off a first round overtime win against Austin Peay and a 3-2 win at UT Martin in the quarterfinals. Junior forward Julie Garst scored three of Belmont's four goals, earning Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Week.
Since October hit, Belmont has won five matches and has won at least four games from October to the end of the season in seven of the last eight seasons.
"The good thing is we played (Murray State) a couple of weeks ago, so it's pretty fresh in our memories," Henson said. "(Leading OVC scorer) Miyah (Watford) has a great ability to score goals, so we have to limit her opportunities and stay organized and disciplined defensively. On the attacking side, we need to take care of the ball, build our attack and move the ball a little bit quicker."
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Belmont has had success in the conference tournament semifinal, advancing to the championship match in two of its three appearances. All three came when the Bruins were members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, where Belmont advanced to the championship match in 2008 and 2009.
With two wins this weekend, the Bruins will win their second conference tournament title in addition to making their second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
"A lot of it goes back to our team culture," Henson said. "We're just continuing to reinforce family, battle, heart, commitment and integrity, our core values in the program. Each of those play a role in how we dealt with adversity and progressed through the season that prepared us for conference play."
Scouting Murray State
Murray State is one of the top scoring teams in the OVC, co-leading the conference with 43 goals and an average of 2.39 goals per game. The Racers have claimed the OVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons, winning the conference tournament in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Murray State has won 11 games this season, marking the third straight season where the Racers have won 10 or more games.
Miyah Watford leads the OVC in shots, points and goals, scoring 14 goals to go with five assists for 33 points. Abby Jones leads the OVC in assists with 10, scoring six goals in the process. Rebecca Kubin has added seven goals while the Racers have had five more players register two or more goals. Jamie Skarupsky looks to protect Murray State in the net, collecting 23 saves and allowing only nine goals for a save percentage of .719.
Belmont's Conference Semifinal History
Nov. 5, 2009 vs. #3 Stetson (Kennesaw, Ga.) W 1-0
Nov. 6, 2008 at #2 Kennesaw State (Kennesaw, Ga.) T 3-3 (2OT, 4-2 PKs)
Nov. 8, 2007 vs. #2 Mercer (Kennesaw, Ga.) T 1-1 (2OT, 3-5 PKs)