NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Despite three strong chances in the second half, the Belmont women's soccer team (2-9, 2-4 A-Sun) was unable to topple visiting Jacksonville (9-4-2, 5-1-1 A-Sun) on Friday night. The Bruins fell, 2-0, to the Dolphins.
After some brief back and forth action to open the first stanza, the teams battled through some long passes to finally settle into the game. The Dolphins notched a pair of early shots that sailed over the crossbar in the first eight minutes of play. Belmont first shot at finding the back of the net came in the 15th minute when freshman Jennifer Collins launched a ball from the right side into the box at junior Jamie Loftis (Hermitage, Tenn.). She booted the high ball towards the right upper corner, forcing JU goalkeeper Alexa Rooney to leap to make the grab. Jacksonville worked to position itself in front of Belmont's goal several times but all but one was too high or wide. In the 32nd minute, an attack by Liz Fink was halted with a diving save by freshman Nicole Berner (Randolph, N.J.). Despite logging seven shots in the first stanza, the Dolphins could not find the back of the net and the teams headed into the break locked in a 0-0 stalemate.
After the break, Jacksonville immediately turned the pressure up to find the back of the net first. It paid off in the 49th minute with Emily Culbreth using a deflection inside the box to sneak the ball past Berner. Two minutes later, Berner would notch the second of four total second half saves. JU earned four consecutive corner kicks in the 60th minute of play but was unable to convert any of the opportunities thanks to a strong Bruin defensive effort. A stepped up effort in the midfield shifted the momentum in Belmont's favor around the 62nd minute. Loftis dribbled the ball toward the box in a breakaway but Rooney dove in front of the ball to block the goal with her body. A rocket from freshman Amy Jo Anderson (Birmingham, Ala.) capped the effort but the ball crashed into the crossbar before sailing over just 60 seconds later.
An unfortunate foul led to a Dolphin free kick in the 75th minute that eventually was deflected into the back of the net by Courtney Conrad to put JU ahead, 2-0. The Bruins increased their intensity on both sides of the ball, hunting for a goal in the remaining minutes. BU closed in around the Jacksonville box and refused to let the ball cross midfield for several minutes. Belmont was able to record three shots in the span, the best being the second of a pair of attempts by junior Dani Stolt (Morris Plains, N.J.) that was narrowly punched out of the goal. Unfortunately, the Bruins fell short in their effort down the stretch and fell, 2-0, to the Dolphins.
"We played a really good team tonight. I was proud of our effort," said Head Coach Lisa Howe. "We had three great chances to score that their goalkeeper took away from us. They were exceptional saves. We didn't test her in the first half but I thought in the second half she came up big for them."
"We had several players that played well tonight. We'll be fine going forward," Howe continued. "We'll be prepared for Sunday."
Stolt led the Bruins offensive effort with three shots. Classmate Loftis added two on the night while sophomores Lauren Paynter (Danville, Ky.) and Laura Harris (Macon, Ga.) and Anderson contributed one shot apiece.
Berner went the distance inside the net, recording a season-high five saves.
Belmont returns to action on Sunday at Whitten Soccer Complex, hosting North Florida. Match time is set for 12:05 pm. Live stats will be available.