INDIANAPOLIS - The Belmont women's soccer team starts a five-game road stretch on Friday, beginning with IUPUI at 6 p.m.
This the first time in program history where the Bruins have faced the Jaguars, also marking the first time this season where Belmont has had to be on the road for four consecutive days.
"Anytime you can go on a road trip and win games and come out with two wins on a four-day weekend is going to be great for team energy," head coach Heather Henson said. "We're trying to stay focused on one game at a time. That's the most important thing. That's how we have dealt with this season is staying focused in the present moment. Our first focus is IUPUI coming on Friday."
Belmont is coming off the best two-game stretch of the 2019 season, tying Georgia in double overtime and collecting a 4-2 win on Sunday against Evansville. The OVC recognized the Bruins for a successful weekend, with Rachel Vernon earning Defensive Player of the Week and Lily Herman earning Goalkeeper of the Week.
CONGRATULATIONS!— Belmont Womens Soccer (@BelmontWSoccer) September 10, 2019
The @OVCSports named @_rachelvernon_ Defensive Player of the Week and Lily Herman Goalkeeper of the Week! Full release ⬇️
��| https://t.co/bQ4jvlB17p#itsbruintime | #BruWIN pic.twitter.com/whUhXUeNrt
Not only did the honor give Herman and Vernon a confidence boost, but the entire team has fed off those awards this week in practice.
"I think it's very good for (self) confidence, but team confidence as well," Herman said. "We might not be having the biggest victory margins or having the biggest wins against the biggest teams, but we are being recognized for the improvement and progress that we've been making. I think that was especially shown since Rachel also won a similar award."
Sunday's match against Evansville provided a first time in several offensive categories. Freshman Taylor Dorenkott and junior Grace Parsons scored their first career goals, marking the first time since Oct. 6, 2017 where Belmont has scored four goals using four different players. Sunday's performance also marked the first time since Aug. 27, 2017 where the Bruins have scored at least four goals in a game on their home field of Rose Park.
After a successful weekend on their home field, the Bruins plan to take that momentum to finish the non-conference on a high note.
"Everybody is playing at such a high intensity," Vernon said. "There's just really high expectations across the board from coaches to players and players amongst other players. I think having those super high standards definitely helps and keeping each other accountable on the field. We're in this together as a team and as a family."
ICYMI: We had 4️⃣ different players score goals in our win against Evansville. Hear what @ab_hawkins and Coach Henson's postgame thoughts ⬇️— Belmont Womens Soccer (@BelmontWSoccer) September 9, 2019
��| https://t.co/3CvtlXTXvI#itsbruintime | #BruWIN pic.twitter.com/hJS6tif3Bm
Friday's game provides a homecoming for several Belmont women's soccer players, most notably sophomore transfer Erin Patterson. Patterson, a Zionsville, Ind. native, will be playing just 30 minutes away from her hometown.
With a new challenge of being on the road over an extended period of time and facing a new opponent never seen by Belmont, the Bruins' focus remains the same.
"We have a lot of young ladies from Ohio, Illinois, in that area. We wanted to get closer to them," Henson said. "I like the fact of playing IUPUI because we don't know much about them. We've never played IUPUI. There's not a history and it's exactly what we tell our players. No matter who you're playing, you have to come ready to play."
IUPUI has won two out of its last three games, most recently coming off a 2-1 loss to Central Michigan on Sunday. The Jaguars have collected 86 shots in six games, coming up with a shot on goal percentage of .453. IUPUI has also taken advantage of 34 corner kick opportunities, 21 more than its opponents.
Valentine Pursey and Maya Lacognato lead the Jaguars, each scoring two goals and accumulating four points. Miranda Ricks has also scored a goal for IUPUI, being the only player for the Jaguars to register a goal and assist in 2019. IUPUI has split time between goalies with AP Woodall and Sophia Lipka. Woodall has only allowed one goal while collecting 10 saves, with Lipka coming up with 17 saves with a save percentage of .773.