NASHVILLE, Tenn.- In an intense, physical conference clash at E.S. Rose Park, the Belmont University men's soccer team (1-8-3, 0-3-2) earned a 0-0 draw against the Green Bay Phoenix (1-8-2, 0-3-2) Saturday night. Saturday's tie marks the second-straight result for the Bruins in league play.
Mertcan Akar (Cologne, Germany) notched his second-straight clean sheet in Horizon League action while registering five saves. He now has at least five saves in all 12 of Belmont's matches.
The Bruins put together a strong offensive showing as they recorded six shots on goal, their most since Sept. 13 at Lipscomb. BU attacked via the set piece quite well, picking up nine corners compared to Green Bay's six. Four of those corners came during extra time where Belmont put together a string of scoring chances, only to see the Green Bay backline deny the threats.
Six of Belmont's seven shots were on frame as Dan Brown (Franklin, Tenn.) paced the club with two shots on goal.
"I thought we did a much better job today than maybe any other game this year where we possessed the ball and had a little patience. We went through a little spell in the second half when we weren't able to control the ball but for the most part we were able to do that which saved us a little bit, saved our legs a little, and it was great to get another shut out. I'd like to get a little bit more attack going, a little bit more chances. With that being said, I thought we had enough to get a goal," remarked Head Coach Bryan Green after the match.
For the seventh time in its last nine matches the Bruins played to a 0-0 score at the intermission. Belmont came out of the gate with a strong attack with crisp passing up and down the pitch, before Green Bay concluded the half with the majority of the possession. Belmont was efficient with its offensive output as it put all three of its total shots on frame. Its best chances came off of set piece opportunities, earning a pair of cornerkicks along with several free kicks. In the 31st, Belmont came within inches of scoring first on a Green Bay own goal. After a cornerkick from Nat Hubert (Chichester, England) was played to the far post, the the ball bounced off the shoulder of a Phoenix defender and clanged off the post.
The Bruins came out of the gate as the aggressor in the back 45 minutes as they mounted two strong looks within the first five minutes of the half. In the 48th, Dennis Kluba (St. Louis, Mo.) looked like he was going to put the Bruins ahead but his half volley from straight on was saved by Green Bay's Kyle Ihn. Ihn finished with six saves. In the 50th, Eli Crognale (Gahanna, Ohio), Belmont's leading shot taker entering the contest, tested Ihn but the Phoenix keeper made the play.
Green Bay finished the half with more action in its attacking third, including a few dangerous threats late in regulation. Belmont countered with offensive rallys in the 85th and 87th. With just two seconds remaining on the clock, Green Bay managed to put one on frame only to see the freshman Akar rack up the save to force extra time.
"I thought Green Bay did a good job rattling us in our final third when we were a pass short in a lot of our attacks and it ended up fizzling out. I think it was their intensity and physicality when it really mattered that helped them, and it really helped them also in the final third when they had some of their chances," added Green.
Belmont set the pace in the first overtime with a pair of setpieces in the 91st minute. After earning clearances on both attempts, Green Bay came back with a shot on goal in the 96th. Things would get chippy around this time as six combined yellow cards were issued in the final two and half minutes. Neither team could break through as another 10 minutes were added to the scoreboard clock.
In the second overtime, the Bruins again managed to ignite offense with cornerkicks when they added two in the 103rd minute. Despite some crafty work off the foot of Hubert, neither attempt would produce a tally. From this point forward, neither team would manage a shot. Green Bay added a corner in the 108th but the Belmont defenders squashed the attempt.
Both teams jockeying for position within the conference standings, left it all on the field in a highly-contested match. After the draw, the Bruins have now amassed two points in conference competition.
"I think we were just better at establishing our attack and getting in positions where we make decisions to shoot. I thought our possession was a little bit better, so we would get into positions to make it fast," said Green.
16 Belmont players saw time against Green Bay, including Akar, Brown, Kluba, Crognale, Jack Driscoll (New Albany, Ohio) and Creeghan Diekema (Grand Rapids, Mich.) who all played for the entirity of the 110-minute marathon.
The Bruin defense has produced back-to-back shutouts in Horizon League play for the first time in Coach Green's two plus seasons as head coach.
The Bruins resume action Tuesday, Oct. 11 when they travel to Xavier for a non-conference clash with the Musketeers.