NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's soccer team (6-5, 3-1 A-Sun) could not hold onto its first half lead and dropped its first Atlantic Sun contest on Sunday afternoon. The Bruins fell to in-state rival ETSU (8-3, 3-0 A-Sun), 2-1, in a battle of the Atlantic Sun undefeateds. With the loss, BU slips to 3-1 in the conference and a 6-5 mark overall.
An immediate back and forth battle between the instate rivals ensued from the opening whistle with one of the top spots in the Atlantic Sun on the line with a victory. Through the 17th minute, it appeared that ETSU would find the back of the net first after firing five shots at the Bruin goal. However, it would be senior Dani Stolt (Morris Plains, N.J.) who would lead the offensive charge for Belmont as she did earlier in the weekend. With two sharply timed passes into the box from classmate Jamie Loftis (Hermitage, Tenn.) and junior Lauren Paynter (Danville, Ky.), Stolt slid the ball past ETSU's Caitlin Gaughan to net her second goal of the weekend with 20:14 on the clock to put BU on top, 1-0. With that spark, the Bruins used the momentum to continue attacking the Lady Bucs' goal in hopes of recording a second goal before the break. Junior Megan Rock (Madison, Miss.) had a great opportunity in the 39th minute but Gaughan able to make a crucial stop. ETSU ramped up its efforts in the final nine minutes of the stanza but the Bruins were able to block one attempt and sophomore netminder Nicole Berner (Randolph, N.J.) was able to grab her fifth save of the half on the other allowing BU to take the one goal lead into the locker room.
The second half saw the teams change up their attacking style in an attempt to net the next goal of the afternoon. Both teams were much more patient as they battled for ball possession and control of the contest's tempo. Stolt came out firing on all cylinders again, picking up back-to-back shots in the first five minutes of the half. The Lady Bucs would find the equalizer in the 51st minute before the teams fell into a heavy back and forth battle as the teams attempted to break the stalemate. In the 81st minute, the Bruins looked to have everything in their favor to collect their second goal of the day. The team was awarded three consecutive corner kicks over the span of 90 seconds. Unfortunately, ETSU was able to position itself to break up each of the scoring opportunities. The intensity of the contest neared fever pitch as both teams hustled to avoid overtime. After numerous near misses on both sides it would be ETSU to find the back of the net for the final goal of regulation. The Lady Bucs netted what became the game winner in the 86th minute and played keep away in the waning minutes to hold on for the 2-1 win.
"Today was a battle," said Head Coach Heather Henson. "Everyone realized that today was going to be both a mental and a physical game. ETSU was organized."
"Everything we do, we do together. We showed that we can take another step in the journey that is conference play even if it doesn't result in a win. It's a process. We performed our game plan today. We must stay disciplined to continue to improve."
Stolt led the Bruins with a game and team-high six shots, including two that were on goal. Morgado contributed two shots in the effort while juniors Paynter and Rock added one each. Berner finished with seven saves on the day.
Belmont returns to action on Friday, October 7 at rival Lipscomb for the annual Battle of the Boulevard matchup. Game time is set for 7 p.m. Live stats will be available.