NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont University men's soccer team played to a 6-1 victory against the Niagara Purple Eagles Sunday afternoon at E. S. Rose Park.
The Bruins stepped on the pitch ready to play. In the fifth minute, the Bruins would see their first scoring opportunity of the match when freshman Matteo Bennati (Genova, Italy) made a beautiful cross that was ultimately knocked away by Niagara defenders.
Just two minutes later, the afternoon really got going as Bennati once again put together a nice cross from the left side to set up sophomore Creaghan Diekema (Grand Rapids, Mich.) to net the first goal of the match against Niagara keeper Steve Casey. "Scoring early gave us a big lift mentally and physically," Said Head Coach Bryan Green.
Less than a minute later, Bennati showed some fancy footwork to fly past several Niagara defenders and blast one to the left corner of the goal for his first collegiate tally.
From then on the Bruins established dominance over the Purple Eagles, keeping the ball in the Belmont attacking third.
Junior Sam Borgel (Marietta, Ga.) netted his first goal of the season in the 13th minute from just outside the right post. His nifty shot from an almost impossible angle just caught the inside of the left post to make the score 3-0.
The Bruins would strike once again in the 27th minute after a corner got headed out of the box by Niagara and was corralled by junior Tony Doellefeld (St. Louis, Mo.) who struck the ball through a swarm of jerseys and put it past Casey to the bottom left side of the net.
Junior keeper Alex Seeley (Longmont, Colo.) made two saves in the first half to keep the Purple Eagles off the board.
Clean defensive efforts from the Bruins was much improved over the last match against Memphis. "We did a better job of defending proactively today, which helped us stop fouling. Friday we were very reactionary, and when you are reacting you tend to be a little late to challenge and commit fouls," said Green.
The second half was much of the same for the Bruins. Within the first five minutes, senior captain Dan Brown (Franklin, Tenn.), with an assist from Diekema, connected with a header that placed the ball beautifully into the top right corner of the Niagara net.
Niagara, with only a handful of reserves, struggled with fresh legs on the hot Sunday afternoon, but seemed to settle in around the 56th minute seeing more possession time and better scoring opportunities.
Their best scoring opportunity thus far in the match came when Mackenzie Roach seemed to have an edge on Seeley to tap one in from the right goal post, but the ball flew off his left foot wide.
Several Belmont reserves saw some quality playing time in the match including freshman keeper Nicolo Dini (Settala, Italy) who replaced Seeley in the Bruin goal in the 66th minute.
After a ten minute bout of better offensive play by Niagara, the Bruins seemed to settle back in.
In the 72nd minute, freshman Jaime Giraldo Angel (Bogota, Columbia) showed some fancy footwork to get around a Niagara defender to find fellow freshman Ares Marlonsson (Thornton, Colo.) who shot from the right side and found the bottom left corner of the goal for his first collegiate goal.
The Bruins, however, were not able to tally their second shutout of the season. Within the last five minutes of the game, Niagara made one last offensive push. After Dini made a couple impressive saves, Matthew Krucko-Moeller was able to sneak one past the goal line for the Purple Eagles' only goal of the match.
Coach Green and his team are very excited for their first win of the season. "It gives us a lot of confidence and belief. We proved we can score goals and carry that with us through the season and in the individual moments of being in front of goal. Our goals also came from play that we have been talking about since preseason started, so hopefully the goals reinforce the value of playing how we want and buying in."
Belmont's six goals is the most goals a Belmont men's soccer team has scored in a single match since September 19, 2005 against Trevecca Nazarene (6-1) and ties the Belmont record for most goals in a single match vs. a NCAA Division I opponent.
The Bruins will be back in action to take on the Dayton Flyers Sunday, September 3 at 1:00 at E.S. Rose Park.