NASHVILLE, Tenn. – #6 Belmont University men's soccer kept its season alive with a 2-1 victory over the #7 VMI Keydets Wednesday afternoon at E.S. Rose Park in the SoCon tournament. The victory marked the second victory over VMI in the last five days.
Much like last Saturday's match, Belmont was the aggressor from the first whistle. The Bruins notched the first shot of the game in just the 2ndminute. Freshman Matteo Bennati (Genova, Italy) landed that shot on frame, but the slow roller was easily scooped up by the VMI defender. Just a minute later, Belmont had another great chance, but the shot just in front of the goal went high.
The Bruins continued to pepper the VMI goal with shots and got a good opportunity to take the lead in the 26thminute. Belmont earned a penalty kick after a VMI foul in the box, but the PK was impressively saved by the Keydets' keeper who proved invaluable through the first half.
Just minutes later, VMI took a 1-0 lead in the 28thminute after a scramble in front of goal resulted in a VMI goal.
Down a goal, the Bruins' picked up its urgency. Less than three minutes later, freshman Ares Marlonsson (Denver, Colo.) netted the equalizer. In the 31stminute, sophomore Nigel Leo (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) found some space in the box and dished the ball to the feet of Marlonsson who buried the ball in the back of the net to knot things up 1-1.
Freshman Daniel Twizer (Haifa, Israel) nearly put the Bruins ahead just before halftime when he got a head on the end of a Belmont corner kick that deflected off the cross bar and out of play.
Tied 1-1 at the half, the Bruins had outshot VMI 13-3 but VMI's five impressive saves kept the Keydets in the match.
After the break, possession was still in Belmont's favor, but the Keydets were able to better possess the ball and limit Belmont's chances for the first minutes of the second frame. Belmont would settle in and continue to test VMI's defensive efforts but was still searching for the go-ahead goal with just over 10 minutes left in the game.
In the 79thminute Belmont finally found the game-winning goal. Bennati set up the play with a header that forced the VMI keeper to make a diving save and put himself out of position. After a scramble with the keeper on the end line, freshman Niccolo Dagnoni (Milan, Italy) made a pass to Bennati who was waiting in front of the left post and buried the ball upper-90 to give Belmont its first edge of the night.
With 10 minutes standing between them and a continued season, the Bruins held the VMI offense at bay to secure the 2-1 victory and keep its season alive.
Belmont limited VMI to just three shots, all in the first half and fired 24 shots of its own. Belmont landed 11 of those shots on frame, forcing VMI to make 9 saves on the night.
With its win Wednesday, the Bruins will travel to #3 Furman for a quarterfinal match in Greenville, S.C. Kickoff is slated for 6:00 PM CST.