PEORIA, Ill. – The Belmont Bruins opened up the 2019 regular season with a scoreless draw Friday night against the Bradley Braves at Shea Stadium. With the tie, the Bruins remain unbeaten in four of their last five season-opening contests.
Belmont picked up where they left off in exhibition play, as junior goalkeeper Nicolo Dini tallied five saves on 14 shots faced to register his first clean sheet of the year. Sophomore forward Niccolo Dagnoni finished with a team-high three shots.
Dini got to work early with a first-minute save, as the Bruins defense would not let him see another shot until the 36th minute. The physical first half featured 15 fouls and one yellow card.
Belmont nearly connected on its first corner kick of the night in the 11th minute, as a header from junior defender Marius Svendsen soared over the post. The Bruins nearly struck again in the 26th minute, with Dagnoni's first shot missing wide of the right post.
To finish the first 45 minutes, the Bruins failed to connect on their final corner kick going into the half, as the match stayed knotted up at 0-0.
To open up the second half, junior forward Jordan Dozzi continued to apply pressure with Belmont's fifth shot of the match in the 47th minute. The contest was at a stalemate for over 25 minutes before Bradley nearly netted a header.
The Braves out-shot the Bruins by a 7-3 margin in the second half, but the stout Belmont defense sent the bout to extra time.
Belmont's final attempt at breaking the tie came in the 105th minute, when a golden goal header attempt from Dozzi went off target.
Overall, five Bruins logged a full 110 minutes in the overtime match: Dini, junior defender Marius Svendsen, junior midfielder Nick Kramer and senior forward Creaghan Diekema. Junior midfielder Nigel Leo led the Belmont substitutes with 43 minutes on the pitch.
UP NEXT: The Bruins travel to Atlanta, Ga. for a Labor Day tilt with the Georgia State Panthers on Monday at GSU Soccer Complex. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Belmont then embarks to San Diego, Calif. for the Aztec Soccer Classic, which features matchups with San Diego State and San Diego.
David Costa, Head Coach
"Opening the season against a strong opponent on the road was a great test of the character of this team. Bradley was able to put us under a lot of pressure and push our team physically and mentally throughout the match. Our defenders, and especially Nicolo Dini, stepped up for the team in several key moments. To come away with a shutout and the result we did is a positive start for our road swing to begin the season."