NASHVILLE, Tenn.- After playing the first three matches of the season away from home, the Belmont women's soccer team will play at Rose Park for the first time in the 2019 campaign.
The Bruins welcome Georgia on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Rose Park, marking the first meeting between the two schools in program history.
"(Georgia coach) Billy (Lesesne) and I have known each other for many, many years back when I was in (High Point) North Carolina and he was in South Carolina at Erskin (College)," head coach Heather Henson said. "I think that it gives us a quality team to play against a person I respect very well. It was a great home-and-away, just like we had with Tennessee (in 2016 and 2017)."
With a team from the SEC making the trip to Rose Park for the second time in the last three years, Belmont is looking for a record-breaking attendance mark on Thursday. The Bruins had 501 fans come for last year's Battle of the Boulevard on Aug. 17, 2018, with the highest attendance in program history coming in Oct. 2, 1999 at Whitten Park against Lipscomb with 602 fans.
Belmont's farthest road game was only 230 miles away (Southern Illinois), resulting in easy travel for Bruin fans for the first three matches. Henson and the players, however, are fired up that there will be more people cheering in the red and blue when they return home.
"You always like to be at home because our fans are there for us, we hear them, and that's a huge support for us," Henson said. "Our fans are awesome in general anyway because even when we go on the road, we have them with us. Our games against Vanderbilt, Lipscomb, SIU, Western Kentucky, we had our fans that traveled with us. We couldn't do it without them. Their words of encouragement, their voices, their cheers continue to lift us up and continue to energize us in a game."
Belmont looks to continue its stretch of strong home opening performances, winning seven of the last eight home openers under Henson. 2019 marks the first time in the Henson era where a Bruin team has played two SEC schools, giving the Bruins a chance to find similarities with Vanderbilt and Georgia.
The two SEC schools play a similar style, allowing Belmont to find areas to improve from the Aug. 11 outing against Vanderbilt.
"Defensively, we need to be an organized defense and making sure we're defending as a unit," Henson said. "On the attacking side, our focus is getting opportunities and how we quickly transition into the attack, how do we exploit the spaces that have been created from their attack. I think we have grown from when we have played Vanderbilt to now weeks later. It's a step in our journey for the OVC."
After falling to No. 23 Virginia Tech by one goal, Georgia responded with a 5-0 dominating effort against Maryland at home. In Georgia's two wins, the Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 9-0. Averaging 2.25 goals per game, Georgia has a shot percentage of .167 and collects 13.5 shots per game. Georgia's scoring is spread out, having 12 players register a point this season.
The Bulldogs have three players who have scored a goal this season, including Reagan Glisson, who has collected a team-high 13 shots. Georgia is led by Daniella Murguia, who leads the team with five points and three assists while coming up with one goal. Emory Wegener leads the Bulldogs in the goal, coming up with 12 saves and a save percentage of .800.