NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont University men's soccer team will see its first action of the 2017 season this weekend when the Bruins play exhibition matches against the Faulkner Eagles (Friday, Aug. 11) and the Mercer Bears (Monday, Aug. 14). Both games are open to the public and will be hosted at E.S. Rose Park.
The Bruins kickoff for the first time this season on Friday at 4:00 p.m. against Faulkner.
The Belmont squad returns seven letterwinners from last year's roster that went 3-12-3 and finished eighth in the Horizon League. BU will add 19 newcomers after losing four talented seniors from the 2016 team. Head coach Bryan Green enters his fourth season at the helm of the men's soccer program. Assistant coaches Mark Carr and Alec Purdie and volunteer assistant coach Anthony Torres will join Green this season.
Seniors Dan Brown (Franklin, Tenn.) and Adriano Balani (Durres, Albania) will lead the Bruins defense this season. Brown earned playing time in all 18 games and notched a goal vs. Western Illinois last season while Balani has proven dangerous on restarts and free kicks. The team will look to fill the void left by Mertcan Akar who protected the Belmont goal. Akar was the NCAA leader in total saves a year ago. Belmont will have three keepers vying for time, junior Alex Seeley (Longmont, Colo.) and freshmen Cameron Petty (Franklin, Tenn.) and Nicolo Dini (Settala, Italy).
ABOUT THE EAGLES
The Faulkner Eagles, an NAIA program based in Montgomery, Alabama, are coming off of a 10-6 season going 4-3 in league play. The squad went 6-4 on the road. The Eagles are an experienced team boasting 15 returners. The Eagles offense scored 24 while being shutout only two times.
Victor De Souza (Sao Paulo, Brazil) returns for his senior campaign after being the Eagles leading scorer last season with five goals. The Eagles will have to replace keeper Diego Da Silva who played in every game and boasted 70 saves.
ABOUT THE BEARS
The Mercer Bears posted a 13-7-1 overall mark with a 7-3-0 conference record which earned them the second place spot in the Southern Conference for the 2016 season. The Bears appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.
The Bears have one of their greatest threats returning to the pitch in senior Will Bagrou (Dacula, Ga.). Bagrou is the reigning Southern Conference Player of the Year and Southern Conference Male Athlete of the Year. Tuesday he was named to the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, an award given to the top NCAA Division I men's soccer player by the United Soccer Coaches. He tallied eight goals and 20 points last season and enters this season as the conference's active career leader in points (63) and game winning goals (9).
Belmont and Mercer will kickoff at 4:00 p.m. on Monday.
Live stats will be provided for both matches via belmontbruins.com, with in-game updates on Twitter @BelmontMSoccer.