JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Despite a valiant second half effort, the Bruins fell just short Tuesday night, dropping a 2-1 deficit to ETSU.
Looking for its first conference win of the season, the Bruins came out with a lot of fight from the start. Just seven minutes into the game, freshman Liam O'Brien (Freehold, NJ) earned a good opportunity. He beat the ETSU defense and looked to go one-on-one with the keeper when he was taken down inside the box, but the play was deemed fair and play continued.
Still searching for an early goal, Belmont continued to press the Bucs defense getting good looks around the goal, but struggled to put a shot on frame.
ETSU started to heat up offensively as play continued in the first frame. The Bucs started to pepper the Belmont goal with shots but were forced to settle for tough shots that were not much of a threat for the Bruins. Sophomore keeper Nicolo Dini (Settala, Italy) was forced to make just one save in the span of the first 45 minutes.
Belmont continued to press late in the first half, finding good opportunities late in the period. In the 37thminute, freshman Daniel Twizer (Haifa, Italy) rocketed three straight shots with his third just sailing over the cross bar.
Neither side was able to find the back of the net in the first half and headed into the locker room tied 0-0.
ETSU broke the deadlock early in the second half with a 48th minute strike to take a 1-0 lead. The Bucs continued to press Belmont's back line and notched its second goal of the night in the 50th minute when a cross deflected off a Belmont defender into the back of the net.
Belmont continued to fight and cut the deficit in half in the 58th minute. Freshman Niccolo Dagnoni (Milan, Italy) scored his third goal of the season with a clinical finish that bent into the upper right corner of the net after taking a pass from sophomore Matteo Bennati (Genova, Italy).
Itching for an equalizer, the Bruins continued to impress offensively in the waning minutes of the second half. In the 69thminute, sophomore Esteban Lestido (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.) found space and ripped a shot from over 20 yards out. His strike looked to be dangerous, but the keeper was in good position to make the stop.
Less than 10 minutes later, BU earned two corners and two free kicks in a span of three minutes but were unable to get on the end of the set pieces. Continuing to show good resolve, the Bruins controlled much of the action for the final 10 minutes of the match. In the 81st minute, Bennati nearly netted the equalizer when he spun past a defender and fired a shot that deflected off an ETSU defender, earning a corner. On the resulting corner, O'Brien got on the end of the kick and ripped yet another shot that hit the post and richocet back into play.
The Bruins continued to create chances that had ETSU holding its breath. In the 87th minute, Dagnoni almost equalized with a shot that curled around ETSU's defense and forced a tough diving save by the ETSU keeper.
Belmont had one final chance to keep the match going when it earned a corner kick with 25 seconds left on the clock. With good service in, the ball bounced around in the box and Belmont put it towards its goal, but was unable to put a shot on target as the final whistle blew.
Belmont will be back in action Saturday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park at 2:00 p.m. CT.