NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2017 version of the Belmont women's soccer team will see its first action of the season when the Bruins play a pair preseason friendlies against the Lipscomb Bisons (Friday, Aug. 11) and the Chattanooga Mocs (Sunday, Aug. 13). Both games will be hosted at E.S. Rose Park and open to the public.
The Bruins will hit the pitch for the first time this year against neighborhood rival Lipscomb. BU returns 18 letterwinners and eight starters from last year's squad which went 6-9-4, finished sixth in the OVC and made the program's first conference tournament in four years. Head coach Heather Henson is entering her seventh season at the helm of the women's soccer program.
In the attacking third, Belmont returns the heart of its offensive production from a year ago with senior Belicia Mendiola (McKinney, Texas) and sophomore Anna Brock Hawkins (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) leading the charge. Both Mendiola and Hawkins registered a pair of goals as well as contributing to five others collectively. The 2017 roster features six others who tallied at least one goal and/or assist during last season. They only lost one player who contributed to the Bruins scoring efforts in 2016, while gaining five newcomers who will likely spend time in the front line.
Defensively, the Bruins will look to fill the void left by outing seniors, Stephanie Bukovec and Brittany Coca. Bukovec spent the majority of last season protecting the Belmont goal, registering more than 1,375 minutes and compiling 68 saves. Coca was a vital member of the squad's defensive unit, limiting opponents scoring opportunities day in and day out. Belmont will carry three keepers, adding newcomer Abigail Hunt (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) with veterans Sydney Zinser (Loveland, Ohio) Lily Herman (Springboro, Ohio). Herman appeared in six games last year and collected 19 saves in her rookie campaign.
ABOUT THE BISONS
The Lipscomb Bisons are coming off their second consecutive season in which they boasted 12 victories, tying a program-best. In all, Lipscomb boasted a 12-5-2 overall record while going 5-1-1 in league competition. Their first draw of the season came from the Bruins to open 2016 play. They return much of their experience after only losing four players from last season. The Bisons finished second in the ASUN and made an appearance in the conference title game last year.
Last season, Lipscomb scored 35 goals and was only shutout three times all year. The Bisons were led by returnees Olivia Doak and Ellen Lundy who each found the back of the net seven times, both receiving ASUN First Team All-Conference accolades. They also welcome back Maycie McKay who assisted on seven goals and scored two during the 2016 campaign.
The Lipscomb defense allowed 23 goals, which included eight against conference opponents. The Bisons tallied six shutouts in 2016 and held opponents to one goal in six additional outings. They will look to replace Anna Buhigas, their primary goal keeper last year who appeared in all 19 matches. Buhigas tallied 98 saves while only allowing 1.13 goals per game.
The game is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed live on the OVC Digital Network.
ABOUT THE MOCS
The Chattanooga Mocs finished last season with a 6-11-2 overall mark and 4-4-1 in the Southern Conference. They return 18 letterwinners from a year ago while welcoming seven newcomers to the squad.
The Mocs prep for the 2017 campaign having to replace a large portion of their offense as their top two scorers graduated. They will look to Jordan Mueller, their top returning offensive producer from last year. Mueller scored four goals, while MacKenzie Gregg comes back after registering five assists during her junior season.
In the back third, Chattanooga relinquished 29 goals while shutting out four opponents in 2016. The team returns their primary goalkeeper from last year in Melia Correa who appeared in 13 games and recorded 59 saves. Collectively, the Mocs averaged 1.49 goals per game while combining for 89 saves.
Belmont and Chattanooga will kick off at 6 p.m.