NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Rain did not dampen the spirit of the annual Battle of the Boulevard contest between Belmont women's soccer and Lipscomb on Sunday afternoon. The exhibition dual would be the final for both squads before the start of the regular season.
In the familiar rivalry matchup, the old foes wasted no time making it a hotly contested match. Significant stretches in the midfield marked the first seven minutes before the Bruins earned back-to-back corner kicks three minutes later. Belmont tallied a pair of impressive shots on goal but was unable to convert the early opportunities.
Lipscomb penetrated the Bruin half of the field for several consecutive possessions and even managed to tally some impressive shots on goal but hard work by the defensive line and between the posts by junior transfer Stephanie Bukovec (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) kept them off the board.
The teams continued to wage a heavy back and forth battle until the final two minutes of the first half. The Lady Bisons used a series of long passes to get in position and picked up the lone goal of the stanza with 1:19 left on the clock. Lipscomb played keep away in the waning seconds to send the teams into the break, separated by the one goal.
After the break, both teams were very aggressive, looking to control the pace of the stanza early. The Lady Bisons had several strong attacks early but senior netminder Lindsey Espe (LaCañada, Calif.) and the back line held steady. In the 53rd minute, Lipscomb was awarded a penalty kick and was able to take a 2-0 lead behind the shot.
An unlikely shot from the left sideline by LU bounced off the left post and rolled into the back of the net to give Lipscomb its third goal of the contest with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation. Belmont defended valiantly but was unable to score before time expired in its final exhibition matchup of the season.
Sophomore Belicia Mendiola (McKinney, Texas) led with three shots, followed by seniors Cassie Blase (Waukesha, Wisc.) and Emily Proud (Knoxville, Tenn.) and freshman Megan Michela (Carol Stream, Ill.) with two apiece.
All three Bruin keepers spent time between the posts. Bukovec notched two while Espe and redshirt freshman Sydney Zinser (Loveland, Ohio) each grabbed one.
Belmont officially opens the 2015 season at E.S. Rose Park on Sunday, August 23. The Bruins host Little Rock beginning at 4 p.m. Live stats, video and an in-game Twitter feed (@BelmontWSoccer) will all be available.