FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Belmont Bruins dropped to Purdue Fort Wayne by a score of 2-1 at the Hefner Soccer Complex Friday afternoon.
Sophomore forward Niccolo Dagnoni recorded his first goal of the 2019 season on a 58th-minute penalty kick, but it was not enough to finish off the Mastodons on the road.
Purdue Fort Wayne was led by senior forward Blake Cearns, who netted his first pair of goals on the season in the 37th and 74th minute.
The Bruins put pressure on Purdue Fort Wayne early, with each of their two shots on goal in the first half coming in the first 10 minutes. Junior goalkeeper Nicolo Dini came up big for Belmont in the 20th minute, when he shut down the Mastodons' breakaway attempt.
Despite logging four corners in the first half, Cearns got Purdue Fort Wayne on the board first in the 37th minute to take a 1-0 lead. The Bruins registered a pair of corners in the final five minutes of the first half but were unable to convert.
In total, the physical first 45 minutes featured a combined 18 fouls, as Belmont outshot Purdue Fort Wayne by a 5-4 margin. Dagnoni and junior midfielder Esteban Lestido provided each of the shots on goal for the Bruins in the first half.
Belmont started off hot coming out of halftime, as the Bruins drew a foul in the box in the 58th minute to set up Dagnoni for a penalty kick. Dagnoni put the ball in the top right corner to beat the goalkeeper and knot the match up at 1-1.
Following 15 minutes of scoreless action, Cearns tallied the game-winning goal for the Mastodons in the 74th minute.
Overall, Belmont and Purdue Fort Wayne finished with the same number of shots (12) and shots on goal (4). The Bruins held the edge in corner kicks by a 6-4 margin.
CORNER ADVANTAGE: The Bruins, who have the most total corner kicks in the Southern Conference, have held the advantage in corners in three of their last four matches.
UP NEXT: Belmont will host its 2019 home opener against the Memphis Tigers on Tuesday, Sept. 17. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park. The Bruins then welcome the Presbyterian Blue Hose to Nashville for a Saturday, Sept. 21 matchup slated for 2 p.m.