NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's soccer team earned Ohio Valley Conference win No. 1 Friday night, but a 1-0 shutout of Morehead State was also win No. 53 for head coach Heather Henson.
As in her 53rd career victory as a Bruin, the most in program history.
The victory moved Henson past coach Lisa Howe (2005-10) for sole possession of first place in Belmont women's soccer history. The eighth-year head coach has led the Bruins to back-to-back OVC Tournament appearances with a 53-62-19 overall mark and has Belmont soaring lately. Friday's win at E.S. Rose Park extended the Bruins' unbeaten streak to five games (3-0-2).
Belmont is now 1-0-1 in conference play and 3-3-2 overall.
"It means a lot for us to be here with her and to help her get this win," said sophomore forward Julie Garst (Franklin, Tenn.), who scored the lone goal on the evening. "She's given us so much of her time and knowledge, helped us out so much. To be here with her for her 53rd win is awesome."
Garst snatched the lead for Belmont in the 63rd minute with her third goal of the season, a team high this year. Her strike came off a perfect feed from fellow sophomore Paige Hewitt (Knoxville, Tenn.).
"Paige just perfectly placed it to my feet and I was able to take a touch," Garst said. "I had no defenders in front of me, just the goalie and she was out far. I knew if I just put it past her it would be good."
The score followed a first half in which neither team managed a shot on goal. The match began like a heavyweight bout, each side testing the other for weaknesses in the defense.
At halftime Henson made the kind of adjustment that has helped her to all those career wins, adapting her side's attack to what the Eagles were offering.
"Morehead does a great job," Henson began. "They come out with intensity and stay solid to their game plan. It was all in the middle of the field for both teams in the first half.
"We tweaked our plan, who we were going to play the ball in to first. We had to find a way to start our attack a little bit higher on the field."
The Bruins fired three shots on goal in the second half, including a penalty-shot attempt saved by Morehead State goal keeper Eva Helgadottir. With the lead in hand, Belmont's junior keeper Lily Herman (Springboro, Ohio) was tasked with making it stand up. She made two crucial saves in the final 10 minutes, including knocking a high shot just over the cross bar to thwart the Eagles' most dangerous scoring chance.
Belmont was there to disarm every Morehead State (2-9, 1-2 OVC) counter attack as Herman notched her second shutout of the season.
"We're really organized in the back," Herman said, praising her defenders. "Boss (Sarah Bossung) and Rachel (Rachel Vernon) do a really great job of talking to our defenders and making sure we're getting back and we're marking up. As long as all of us are working together, we're able to stop them every time."
The Bruins will go for a weekend sweep of conference games when they travel to Cookeville, Tenn., on Sunday for a 6 p.m. matchup against Tennessee Tech.