VALPARAISO, Ind.- The Belmont University men's soccer team (3-11-2, 1-4-1) earned its first road points of the season as it turned in a gritty-110 minute effort in route to a 1-1 double-overtime draw in Valparaiso, Ind. Saturday night.
"I was pleased that we were able to battle back after giving up a goal early. We battled back and tied it up before the half ended. We dealt with the elements and I thought had some really good moments of soccer. We got our first road result of the year against a very good Valpo team," remarked Head Coach Bryan Green after the match.
In what a was dreary, rainy night in northwest Indiana, the Bruins battled the elements and played some of the best soccer they have played all year as they earned a draw against the league's No. 5 team heading into play. This was Belmont's first road result of the season, and certainly is a strong sign for the Bruins as they move forward.
Sophomore striker Rashad Hyacenth (D'Abadie, Trinidad and Tobago) scored his league-high sixth goal of the season as he scored the game-tyng goal in the 41st minute. Hyacenth found himself in the right place at the right time as he has many a time this season. Hyacenth was assisted by freshman Thailer Usonis (Virginia Beach, Va.) who had just subbed into the match. Usonis's assist was his first as a collegiate.
In the 44th, Usonis would impact the match again when he was tripped up on a challenge by a Valpo player, thus earning the foul call from the officials. Hyacenth and Adriano Balani (Durres, Albania) each lined up to take the kick, looking to confuse the Valpo defense. Hyacenth appeared as if he would take the kick but Balani rose forward and attempted the free kick. His shot was useful, but was saved by the keeper who had to dive to his left to stop the attempt.
The Bruins tied a season-high with nine shots on goal and outshot Valparaiso 15-13 on the match.
Grayson Rector (Peachtree City, Ga.) was excellent on the match as he recorded six saves, his second highest tally of the season.
BU came out with intensity early as it earned in the match's initial momentum with solid tactical passing and a sense of urgency in their third. But for the second straight match, Belmont's opponent struck early in the match as Valparaiso's Adrian Graham netted his first goal of the season in the 13th. Jacob Gandarilla played a nice ball up the pitch and found Matt Gweh who played it to Graham, who collected the pass and cashed it in.
Belmont was able to withstand some late pressure applied by Valpo, who tallied a pair of strong chances in the match's final minute of regulation. Valpo's Stian Sandbekkhaug had a look from inside the 18' from straight on, but hit a bit too strong as it sailed high above the frame. Moments later a Crusader played a dangerous cross but Anthony Torres (Batavia, Ill.) came up with a key stop to force overtime.
The Bruins' eight first half shots are the most of any match they have played this season. Six of those eight attempts were on frame also a season high. Belmont held the edge in shots tallied in the first 45 minutes by one as Valpo registered seven shots.
In the 94th Matt Vuylsteke (Hamilton, Ont., Can.) nearly scored from the right corner of the 18' but the keeper made an excellent save. Soon after in the 95th Dennis Kluba (St. Louis, Mo.) found Hyacenth who corralled the pass, made his move but a Valpo defender blocked the attempt before it could reach the frame. Belmont looked like the better team in the first overtime, as they controlled possession and outshot Valpo 3-0 in the frame.
Neither squad was able to record a shot in double overtime, as both teams battled through the hard-fought match.
"I thought we did a great job of passing through the front four. We maintained our patience to get good looks at the goal and we were sharp tonight despite the slippery surface," added Green.
Belmont threated in the 79th when Rapahel Colmanette (Sao Paulo, Brazil) played a nice cross from left side to connect with Hyacenth far post, Hyacenth just missed connecting with the ball but Belmont maintained possession. On the ensuing chance, Hyacenth was right in the middle of the action again but this time he would connect, strong at that, only to see Valpo's Nico Campbell snag another save.
Joonas Bask (Espoo, Finland) had a fine chance at a score in the 16th minute, but Campbell made a save on a ball very well struck by the senior forward.
Belmont tallied nine cornerkicks to Valpo's five, as they threatened several times with good looks off setpieces.
Coach Green tinkered with his line up a tad as he inserted Vuylsteke for his fifth start of the season and Sam Black (Douglas, Isle of Man, UK) earned his second start. Black played all 110 minutes while Vuylsteke appeared in 82.
The Bruins face a quick turnaround as they return to action when they travel to ACC foe Virginia Tech for a Tuesday night tilt in Blacksburg, Va. against the Hokies.