NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Fueled by a pair of early scores, the Belmont University men's soccer team ended its 2016 season on a high note as it battled for a 2-1 victory over Detroit Mercy, Nov. 4 at E.S. Rose Park in its season finale.
Seniors AJ Arnold (Jackson, Miss.), Nat Hubert (Chichester, England), Kyle Malden (Aguora, Calif.) and Grayson Rector (Peachtree City, Ga.) were honored during a pre-match ceremony, and all played instrumental roles in Belmont's result.
It was the striker Arnold who scored what would be the eventual game-winning goal in the seventh minute, adding the second of BU's two tallies. Hubert logged 70 minutes of action at midfield while Malden would play 52 minutes and narrowly missed on a strong scoring chance late in the match. Rector, the veteran keeper, would come on to start the second half and without his efforts Belmont's win would have very much be in doubt. Rector finished with seven saves in the second half and made several crucial stops to help preserve the Bruin win.
"It's great the seniors get to walk off the field winning their last match of their college career and it was a great performance by all four of them. Grayson Rector came in and had a lot of work to do in the second half, Nat had a solid game game at midfield and Malden had a really good game off the bench. I really hoped he could he could have score one of his chance but did great to get them. AJ scored our second goal on a great finish on a bad angle. The four seniors really did great and it's nice for them to end their career with a victory," said Belmont Head Coach Bryan Green.
Belmont came out of the gate strong as Ben Santos-Meeker (Minneapolis, Minn.) opened the scoring with a connection in the fourth minute on a counterattack. Just over two minutes later, Arnold's strike made it 2-0 Belmont. After a series of back-and-forth possessions, Detroit Mercy capitalized on a penalty kick with just 14 seconds remaining in the first half and cut the Bruin lead to 2-1 going into the intermission. The Titans would attack persistently in search of an equalizer in the final 45 minutes, but the Bruins' excellent work in their defensive third was the story in the second half. Facing 20 shots, including nine on frame, the young Belmont team held court.
"I think we got a little careless at times but it was good to play with a lead. I thought we could have been a little bit more aggressive at times. When we had to make plays we did, and a 2-1 win is a great way to end the season," added Green.
Rector made critical stops in the 71st and 86th minutes, to help send him and his fellow seniors out with a bang.
With Belmont's victory, it finishes the season with eight points which is its most since joining the Horizon League in 2014. The Bruins close out their campaign with the victories in two of its final three matches and results in four of their last 6. The Bruins featured 10 different goal scorers this season and Mertcan Akar's (Cologne, Germany) 109 saves put him in fourth place all-time in program history in terms of saves in a single-season.