NASHVILLE, Tenn. – First-year head coach David Costa and the Belmont men's soccer team open up the 2019 season on Sunday night, as the Bruins are set to host the Central Arkansas Bears in an exhibition match. Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park.
Belmont is looking to take the all-time series lead over the Bears, as the current record is set at 2-2-2 including exhibitions. The last time the Bruins faced Central Arkansas in Nashville, Belmont notched a 4-0 victory over the Bears at the Lipscomb Invitational. The two teams last met in an exhibition match in Conway, Ark. last season, where they finished in a 0-0 tie.
RETURNERS: Belmont returns 13 players from last season, including two of its most productive offensive weapons. The sophomore tandem of Ares Marlonsson and Niccolo Dagnoni logged a combined seven goals and nine assists in 2018.
The Bruins also bring back two seniors, Sam Borgel and Creaghan Diekema, who have meshed for nearly 100 career matches played. Senior goalkeeper Nicolo Dini also returns for Belmont this year after a historic 2018 season. Dini notched 77 saves, marking the second-most saves in a season for the program in the last decade.
NEWCOMERS: A total of nine new faces join the 2019 Bruins squad, which contains five transfers and four freshmen. The class brings in an assortment of two defenders, five midfielders, one forward and a goalkeeper.
The freshman class features former high school and current club teammates Ethan Shrewsbury and Reed Gentner from Austin, Texas, as well as freshmen midfielders Tanner Carlson and Corey Lavinder. Included in the transfers are midfielders Jack Shaw (Wisconsin), Kyle Barks (Indiana), Nashville native JP Armbruster (Louisville), Marius Svendsen (Herkimer CC) and Jordan Dozzi (Griffith).
BELMONT AT A GLANCE: The Bruins have 22 players from 17 different home countries and states. Just two players on the roster call Tennessee home: Armbruster and sophomore goalkeeper Cameron Petty. Belmont's roster also features international players from five separate countries, including Colombia, Australia, Norway, Italy and Spain.
SCOUTING CENTRAL ARKANSAS: Head coach Ross Duncan and the Bears are coming off an 8-6-4 record last year, as they return their leading goal scorer and preseason All-Sun Belt striker Niklas Brodacki for the 2019 season. The Bears also bring back Soren Jensen, who tallied the second-most assists on the squad last season (5).
Duncan enters his seventh season as head coach of Central Arkansas and recently led the program to its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. The Bears were picked to finished fourth in the Sun Belt for the upcoming season.
UP NEXT: The Bruins round out exhibition play with a Saturday, Aug. 24 matchup with Christian Brothers at E.S. Rose Park. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Belmont opens up regular season play on Friday, Aug. 30 with a non-conference matchup at Bradley in Peoria, Ill.