NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The fourth-seeded Belmont men's soccer team (6-2-2, 3-2-1 SoCon) faces off with the top-seeded Furman Paladins (7-1-1, 5-0-1 SoCon) Friday night in the SoCon Men's Soccer Championship semifinals. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT at Eugene Stone Stadium in Greenville, S.C.
The Bruins will be making their second straight appearance in the conference tournament semifinals for the first time in program history. With a win, they will advance to their first ever conference tournament championship.
Belmont and the Paladins will meet for the 11th time in the series history on Friday, as Furman leads by a 9-1-0 mark all-time. The Paladins have won all four of the meetings since the Bruins joined the SoCon in 2018.
In its first meeting with Furman this season, Belmont fell to the Paladins by a score of 3-0 on March 30 in Nashville. The Bruins were led by senior midfielder Esteban Lestido, who tabbed a career-high seven shots with four on target. Junior midfielder Kyle Barks netted a goal in the second half to cut the team's deficit to one score, but it was disallowed due to an offsides call.
LAST TIME OUT: Belmont clinched a spot 2021 SoCon Men's Soccer Championship with a 1-0 shutout of the Mercer Bears Saturday on Senior Night at E.S. Rose Park.
Junior forward Jordan Dozzi led the Bruins with his first goal of the season in the 33rd minute on an assist from senior midfielder Jack Shaw. Senior goalkeeper Drew Romig tallied his fourth clean sheet of the season with four saves. With its shutout of the Bears, the Bruins tied the program record for the most clean sheets in a season (6).
SCOUTING THE PALADINS: Furman is led by head coach Doug Allison, who is currently coaching his 26th season with the Paladins. Allison, the winningest head coach in SoCon history, helped Furman to its 21st SoCon regular season championship this year.
This season, the Paladins boast a 7-1-1 record, with an undefeated mark in conference play and a current six-match unbeaten streak. Furman has also posted six shutouts, with its only loss coming to Gardner-Webb on the road on March 3 by a score of 3-0.
The Paladins are led by a mix of varied talent, which includes 2018 SoCon Goalkeeper of the Year Ben Hale and two-time All-SoCon defender Cole McLagan, both of which are seniors. Meanwhile, the underclassmen forward tandem of Jake Raine and Shaun-Chris Joash have netted five goals each on the offensive side.
Additionally, Furman is ranked at No. 25 in the latest Top Drawer Soccer Top 25 released on April 5.
TOURNEY HISTORY: Belmont earned a No. 4 seed in the conference tournament, its highest seed since 2006 and best since joining the SoCon in 2018. The Bruins also hold a 3-2 record in SoCon Men's Soccer Championship matches.
SHUTOUTS GALORE: By blanking Mercer on Saturday, Belmont matched the program record for shutouts (6) in a single season in program history. It also boasts the 12th-ranked shutout percentage in the country (.600).
WINNING ON THE ROAD: In total, the Bruins hold a 3-1-1 record in away matches this season, as they have outscored their opponents by an 8-4 margin on the road.
UP NEXT: The winner of Friday's tilt advances to the championship to take on the winner of No. 2 seed UNC Greensboro and third-seeded East Tennessee State.