NASHVILLE, Tenn.- The Belmont University men's soccer team (1-7-1, 0-1-0) hits the road for Highland Heights, Ky. as they are set to take on the Northern Kentucky Norse (4-3-1, 1-0-1) Wednesday evening for a 6 p.m. CT tilt at the NKU Soccer Stadium.
"Northern Kentucky will be a tough challenge. They know how to compete and make it difficult on opponents," Head Coach Bryan Green said when discussing Northern Kentucky.
The Bruins are embarking on their first conference road trip of the season, as they opened their Horizon League slate of games with a 2-0 loss to 2014 league champion and preseason favorite, Oakland, this past Saturday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park.
Against Oakland, the Bruins fought toe-to-toe with the Golden Grizzlies, but ultimately fell in their 2015 Horizon League home opener. The Bruins kept the Golden Grizzlies in check in the first half but saw their counterpart break through for a pair of scores in the back 45. Belmont got into more of a rhythm as the match progressed and had chances in the second half to draw closer, but never could crack the Oakland defense in the league lid-lifter.
Belmont and Northern Kentucky met last season in an exhibition match played at Rose Park, and played to a 0-0 draw. The contest was delayed for nearly two and a half hours by severe weather in the area. The Bruins outshot and notched more corners than the Norse, and allowed just one shot on goal in the draw. Other than last season's exhibition, the Bruins and Norse have met just one other time, and this came in 2012 when Belmont fell 2-1 to NKU at Rose Park. 2012 was the first year of Division I competition for the NKU men's soccer program.
"Playing them last year in preseason gives us a slight look into who they are and how they play. It was a tough game last year that ended 0-0, but I'm sure they will be even tougher at home," added Green.
The Northern Kentucky Norse enter Wednesday's contest sporting a 4-3-1 record, and have opened their inaugural Horizon League campaign with a win at Wright State and a draw at Detroit. Kicking off their season with strong performances against two challenging opponents, NKU is right in the thick of things early on league play. The Norse were pegged to finish eighth in the Horizon League but they may have something to say about that after defeating the preseason No. 3 and earning a draw against the No. 5. Senior goalkeeper A.J. Fleek currently leads the Horizon League in saves (46) , saves per match (5.75) and save percentage (.868). Fleek has been named Horizon League Defensive Player of the Week twice already this season.
The Northern Kentucky Norse are playing their first regular season home match of 2015 on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The Norse played their first eight matches of the regular season on the road, or at neutral sites, and compiled a 4-3-1 record in those contests.
After matching up with Northern Kentucky, Belmont returns to action Saturday, Oct. 3 when it travels to Green Bay for a 7 p.m. tilt in the Badger State.