NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite a strong rally to come back from down one goal and force an extra period, the Belmont women's soccer team (0-2-0) fell in its home opener to first-time opponent Clemson (3-0-0) on Friday night. The Bruins fell, 2-1, in their second overtime contest in as many outings.
After a tense opening few minutes, the first time opponents quickly settled in and began a back and forth battle throughout the midfield. The Bruins were able to penetrate early and often into Tiger territory and get into position for back-to-back shots from junior Jamie Loftis (Hermitage, Tenn.) and sophomore Lauren Paynter (Danville, Ky.). Clemson stepped up its defensive effort and was able to move the ball into BU's half of the field. Finally, in the 35th minute Jackie Dutton managed to corner the ball just past Belmont netminder Nicole Berner (Randolph, N.J.) to put the Tigers up 1-0. The Bruins attempted to rally in the final two minutes but were unable to convert a corner kick.
The second half began as intense as the first with each time notching a pair of shots in the first six minutes. A corner kick from Paynter opened the door for a shot on goal by sophomore Laura Harris (Macon, Ga.) in the 50th minute. Unfortunately, the attempt sailed just wide but the effort sparked the Bruins to surge again offensively. The BU faithful stayed on their collective feet cheering the team on the equalizer goal that seemed to be on verge of happening. Belmont's intensity raised to fever pitch around the 80th minute before a diagonal serve across the box from senior Erica Carter (Spring, Texas) found Paynter's feet to knot the score at 1-1 two minutes later. Both squads kept fresh legs on the field down the stretch but it was Belmont who began to control the tempo of the game down the stretch.
In the first overtime, both teams seemed focused on finding a goal early. A foul just inside the box barely two minutes in saw Clemson net a penalty kick and take the game, 2-1.
"Clemson is quite an opponent for us to take on," said Head Coach Lisa Howe. "For us to go down 1-0 in the game and then come back was a huge accomplishment for us. It is still early in the season and I feel that if we just put a few things together we will continue to improve. A few times we were unable to connect. Once we fix those things, we will get better passes from the midfield and better connections between our forwards. That is what we are looking for right now."
Clemson held the advantage in shots, 13-10, but Belmont held the advantage in corner kicks, 5-3.
Junior Sari Lin (Carefree, Ariz.) and Berner split time inside the net, combining for seven saves.
Belmont returns to action on Tuesday afternoon at the Whitten Soccer Complex. The Bruins host Minnesota beginning at 1 p.m. Live stats will be available.