NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The final score wasn't pretty, but the jam-packed stands at E.S. Rose Park gave the Belmont Bruins something else to be proud of Friday night. A capacity crowd of 501 fans turned out for Belmont's season-opening 6-1 loss to Lipscomb, an E.S. Rose Park record for a women's soccer match.
Lipscomb's attack was stout from the get-go with the Bisons (1-0-0) firing 12 shots in the opening half with seven of them on goal. That led to a 3-0 lead at the break with Lipscomb junior Olivia Doak scoring twice in the opening 15 minutes.
The deficit continued to swell before the Bruins' efforts translated to the scoreboard. Less than a minute after the Bisons ran their lead to 5-0, Belmont played the ball into the box and sophomore Julie Garst (Franklin, Tenn.) made good on a feed from senior midfielder Jessi Boozer (Brentwood, Tenn.).
Garst buried the shot to give Belmont its first goal of the season in the 58th minute, a response to some of what head coach Heather Henson addressed at halftime. The Bruins needed to gradually work their way up the field rather than send in a long ball that Lipscomb could counter and return quickly.
"We asked them to make an adjustment at halftime and I was very proud of them for staying the course and trusting in the process even if we didn't ultimately win the game," said Henson, Belmont's eighth-year head coach. "We needed to realize we had to possess the ball, find feet and go from pocket to pocket and attack each pocket of space."
The approach helped the home side match Lipscomb's ball possession in the second half, though the Bisons still outshot Belmont 24-14 and forced junior goalkeeper Lily Herman (Springboro, Ohio) to make seven saves in net.
The Bruins won't return to the friendly confines of E.S. Rose Park and its loyal fans for more than two weeks now. The next home match for Belmont comes on Sept. 2 against LIU Brooklyn with the Bruins' two upcoming contests both coming on the road. That stretch starts Sunday with a short trip to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to face Middle Tennessee State.
Belmont will have a lot to focus on in its strive for improvements there as nonconference play continues ahead of Ohio Valley Conference games in mid-September.
"You play non-conference games for a reason – to make mistakes and move on and learn from them so we can get better for when conference play does come," said senior midfielder Emily Whitcomb (Elmhurst, Ill.). "We learned a lot. We learned what doesn't work, some things that do work and that we just have to come back even harder Sunday against MTSU.
"This wasn't us and it wasn't good enough. We have a lot of room to grow and I think this game helps us figure out how to get there."
Belmont fell to 0-1-0 with the loss, the team's first defeat on opening day dating back to 2013 (3-0-1).