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Top 25 Experience

Top 25 Experience

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont women's soccer team played at No. 17 Vanderbilt for the first time in 10 years in an exhibition match on Sunday night. 

With the Commodores tallying 22 shots and 13 shots on goal, Vanderbilt snagged a 3-0 victory over the Bruins at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex. 

"That's why we wanted to play this game so early, so we could see where we're at six days into preseason. Now we have the rest of this week until we play on Friday," head coach Heather Henson said. "We played outside competition against a very quality team, well-coached team. (Vanderbilt coach) Darren (Ambrose) does a great job with them."

Despite not getting any shot opportunities in the first 15 minutes of play, the Bruins prevented the Commodores' fire power offense from doing any damage. Belmont's defense took away two corner kick opportunities away from Vanderbilt and prevented the Commodores from converting all three of their shots in the first 20 minutes. 

Vanderbilt, however, struck first in the 28th minute of the first half, with Paola Ellis' goal off an assist from Ella Shamburger allowed the Commodores to take a 1-0 lead. The Commodores finished the first 45 minutes controlling the possession for 59% of the half. 

After not allowing a shot opportunity for the first 13 minutes of the second half, Vanderbilt's Haley Hopkins came up with the second goal of the night that gave the Commodores a 2-0 lead. 28 minutes later, Vanderbilt capped off the game with its third goal thanks to Raegan Kelley off an assist from Marin Boyle. 

"I'm not sure we're going to play a team as good them the rest of the season," senior goalkeeper Lily Herman said. "I think we just need to bring that same type of energy and effort to every single one of our games. If we do, I know there's no doubt in my mind that we can do it." 

Belmont found the positive on the defensive side of the ball, with Herman coming up with a career-high 10 saves on the night. Herman had the most saves since Oct. 12, 2018, where she collected nine against UT-Martin.

"She told (the team) in the beginning of the game, 'I have full confidence on and off the field for each and every one of you,'" Henson said. "She had that confidence in them, so she knew she could do whatever she needed to do because they would be there for her. She stepped up big time in the net for us with some fabulous saves, but also kept a calmness for us. It was extremely exciting to see that." 

Sunday's exhibition was also an opportunity where the newcomers could collect playing time in high-level setting. Belmont had a total of five players who did not appear in a game during the 2018 season for the Bruins see the field the first exhibition. 

"I think (this game) is a great experience for all the newcomers coming in and playing minutes," freshman Emma Sharou said. "It shows you that anybody can play on this team. We have a wide range of players from our returners to our newcomers. Everyone is so talented on this team and works hard." 

Belmont wraps up exhibition play with a home match against Chattanooga on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Park.