GREENVILLE, S.C. – #6 Belmont University men's soccer fell to #3 Furman 4-2 on the road Saturday night in a Southern Conference quarterfinal matchup. The match was a thrilling one with six goals scored and 35 shots blasted between the two sides.
With everything on the line, both squads came out of the gate with great urgency. The Paladins wasted little time getting on the board with a second minute strike to take a 1-0 lead.
Despite the disadvantage, the Bruins continued to keep its foot on the gas and pressured the Paladins. In the ninth minute, freshman Niccolo Dini (Milan, Italy) took a free kick from outside the 18 that proved to be a dangerous chance for Belmont. The kick was beautiful off Dagnoni's boot and curled towards the top left corner of the goal, but Furman's keeper stretched out and made the save to keep the BU off the board.
After more back and forth action, the Paladins struck again in the 28thminute, taking a 2-0 lead.
Sophomore keeper Nicolo Dini (Settala, Italy) was a bright spot for the Bruins throughout the match. Dini made six saves in the first frame alone, including one sliding save on a breakaway and an impressive save on a corner to keep the Bruins within striking distance heading into the locker room.
At the half, Belmont had created several offensive opportunities including four shots and five corner kicks but struggled to find the back of the net.
Dini picked up right where he left off at the start of the second half, making another beautiful save in the 47thminute to keep Belmont in the match.
The Bruins found a rhythm offensively and maintained better possession and created many chances in the early minutes of the second frame. In the 53rdminute, senior Adam Voloder (New South Wales, Australia) forced another save when he landed a shot on target.
In the 60thminute, Belmont took advantage of its ninth corner kick of the night. After senior Tony Doellefeld (St. Louis, Mo.) placed the corner kick to the back post that was headed back into the box to the feet of sophomore Esteban Lestido (Royal Palm Beach, Fla.). Lestido got a boot on it and put the ball past the Paladins' keeper, cutting the Belmont deficit in half.
Furman picked up its pace after Belmont's goal, scoring two more goals in the 66thand 74thminute to take a 4-1 lead.
Belmont continued to dig deep and keep itself in the match. In the 84thminute, Belmont took advantage of yet another corner kick. Dagnoni booted the ball to the head of freshman Daniel Twizer (Haifa, Israel) who put the ball right to the feet of sophomore Matteo Bennati (Genova, Italy). Bennati buried it, cutting the Paladins' lead 4-2.
Both teams continued to fight until the final whistle, but Belmont would drop a 4-2 deficit in its final match of the season.
The Bruins rocketed 13 shots, landing seven on frame and earned 11 corners in the match. Dini finished the night with an impressive nine saves.