NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's soccer team (1-3) was able to rebound from an early 1-0 deficit to defeat visiting Arkansas State (3-1-1), 3-1, for its first win of the season on Sunday afternoon.
From the opening whistle, the first time opponents were looking for ball control early. A corner kick gave Arkansas State just enough momentum to strike in the sixth minute for its first goal of the game. However, the Bruins settled down and immediately went to work on the hunt for the equalizer goal. Sophomore Lauren Paynter (Danville, Ky.) stepped up for BU, booting a hard shot toward that goal that ricocheted off the left post and behind the ASU goalkeeper to knot the game at one just three minutes later. The teams battled the length of the field to regain control, both playing strong defense of break up potential scoring opportunities.
Finally in the 24th minute, Belmont regained control of the ball and penetrated deep into the Redwolves' territory. Passes from senior Jessica Rix (Carmel, Ind.) and freshman Jennifer Collins (McCordsville, Ind.) opened the door for junior Jamie Loftis (Hermitage, Tenn.) to fire a shot that sailed over the ASU keeper's head into the left corner of the net, putting Belmont on top, 2-1. The Redwolves looked to have a chance in the 32nd minute but freshman Nicole Berner (Randolph, N.J.) came up with the save. BU went on to strategically use the clock to close out the first stanza.
In the second period, both teams came out aggressively but it was Belmont who notched a pair of corner kicks in the first five minutes. Ahead by one goal, the Bruins set out to contain Arkansas State for the remainder of the contest. The Redwolves were not easy to give up, continuing a steady stream of fresh legs on the field throughout the half, hoping the tie the score again. However, the Bruins continued to thwart each attempt at rallying momentum and kept play in the midfield for long stretches. Berner's lone save of the match came in the 69th minute as ASU became even more aggressive on the ball.
In the 77th minute, Arkansas State came up with a corner kick and the ending shot was blocked by the Bruin defender inside the box. The Redwolves kept coming but Belmont was successful in continuing to break up their passes and frustrate their forwards. An ASU foul in the 87th minute set up a free kick for junior Gretchen Sutch (Knoxville, Tenn.) that bounced off an Arkansas State player to give Belmont its third goal of the day. One minute later, an impressive last chance header attempt and a shot that went wide would be the Redwolves' final shots of the day and the Bruins held on for the 3-1 victory.
"I thought this was a good result for us against a good Arkansas State team," said Head Coach Lisa Howe. "I was disappointed in us giving up that first goal. Arkansas State took advantage of us leaving them open."
"After losing as bad as we did earlier in the week and then to go down 1-0 so early, we almost got worried," Howe continued, "but the girls didn't have doubts. They stayed with it. LP's (Lauren Paynter) goal where she took on two of their players was great. That really helped us get back in the game."
Belmont held the advantage in shots, 10-9, and corner kicks, 4-2.
Recording shots for BU were Loftis, Sutch, Paynter, freshman Amy Jo Anderson (Birmingham, Ala.), seniors Erica Carter (Spring, Texas) and Jessica Rix, junior Morgan McBride (Collierville, Tenn.), and sophomore Laura Harris (Macon, Ga.).
Berner went the distance inside the net for the Bruins, recording four saves.
Belmont returns to the road next weekend for a matchup at Eastern Illinois on Friday, September 10. Match time is set for 4 p.m.