CHARLESTON, Ill. -- A pair of goals by freshman Tara Austin (Beaumont, Texas) lifted the Belmont women's soccer team (4-3-4, 1-0-2 OVC) to its first OVC win over the season on Friday afternoon. The Bruins defeated Eastern Illinois (1-10-1, 0-3 OVC) on the road, 3-1.
BU wasted little time setting the tone for the match with senior Allie Hicks (Carmel, Ind.) firing her first shot of the day in the first 25 seconds opening the door for the team to earn a corner kick. Belmont kept coming and by the 11th minute had racked up three more shots. Displaying defensive strength on the other side of the ball, the Bruins kept the Panthers from firing a shot until the 13th minute of action. EIU finally got its legs under it midway through the half but Belmont brought out fresh legs to keep up the offensive onslaught. In the 24th minute, Austin was fed the ball by junior Cassie Blase (Waukesha, Wisc.) and buried it into the right corner of the goal to get BU on the board. Eastern Illinois worked hard to knot the score at 1-1 just before the break with a goal in the final 90 seconds.
The Bruins came out swinging in the second stanza, attacking quickly, despite the weather changing to a consistent, drenching rain. The defensive effort was so stringent BU earned an own goal when an EIU defender was pressured and surrendered the ball into her own net with just 15 seconds off the clock. Despite the one goal lead, Belmont refused to let up. Energized by the lead, the Bruins remained on the attack. In the 56th minute, Austin found the back of the net once again after a great pass from sophomore Meg Howard (Brentwood, Tenn.). With victory in its sights, Belmont did not slack up as regulation neared an end, outshooting EIU, 11-6, in the second half alone.
"We had to deal the elements today but they did a good job of staying focused," said Head Coach Heather Henson. "The whole team did a great job today. Both teams played hard and neither wanted to concede anything, especially in a conference game.
"Everyone came out and contributed for us and we are excited to get a win on the road and win in conference play."
Belmont outshot EIU, 17-12, in the regulation contest. The Panthers held the narrow advantage in corner kicks, 6-4.
Hicks led all Bruins with four shots, followed by freshman Belicia Mendiola (McKinney, Texas) with three.
Junior Lindsey Espe (LaCañada, Calif.) went the distance between the posts, grabbing five saves.
Belmont returns to the friendly confines of E.S. Rose Park on Friday, October 10, hosting SIUE. Match time is set for 5 p.m. The contest can be seen live on the OVC Digital Network. Live stats and a live, in-game Twitter feed (@BelmontWSoccer) will also be available.