NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont women's soccer team turned away a barrage of shots against Ohio Valley Conference leading UT Martin on Friday, but the Skyhawks' offensive pressure eventually proved to be too much.
The 2-0 defeat at E.S. Rose Park dropped Belmont to 3-4-1 in OVC games and 5-7-2 overall with just two contests left in the regular season.
Things could have been far more one-sided if not for the stupendous effort of Belmont junior goal keeper Lily Herman (Springboro, Ohio). Herman posted a career-best nine saves while withstanding 27 Skyhawk shots.
She was on her toes all game, but the work of her defenders allowed Herman to find optimal positioning in the net to make some crucial saves. They even chipped in on the net-minding with junior defender Shannon Maitland (Belleville, Ill.) making a save as well.
"Games where they're all over us in our own half, we need to keep working with each other and stay organized and communicate," Herman said. "Our back line did very well. I think that's from all our experiences this conference season, to be able to hold the best team in the OVC to 2-0."
The Bruins pulled into halftime with the score knotted at 0-0 despite UT Martin doing what the Skyhawks do best. Martin (11-2-1, 6-0-1 OVC) leads the conference in nearly every offensive category this season, and the visitors were in prime form in the opening 45 minutes. They fired 13 shots while limiting Belmont to just one, an attempt on goal by senior midfielder Emily Whitcomb (Elmhurst, Ill.).
Though UT Martin midfielder Amy McGivern scored twice after intermission – her go-ahead goal came 60 minutes into the contest – Belmont proved a more dangerous offensive threat itself in the final second half. Sophomore forward Julie Garst (Franklin, Tenn.) had two shots and the Bruins manufactured several other scoring chances, too.
"It just takes one and we were getting opportunities," Belmont Head Coach Heather Henson said. "That was the difference from the first half when we weren't getting in behind them and we weren't able to break the pressure. Second half we were able to make adjustments, break the pressure and create some attacking opportunities out of that."
The Bruins will look to add that offensive component to a strong defensive front during a road trip to Murray State on Sunday. The team's final game away from home in the regular season is slated for 1 p.m.
"We were confident at halftime and I think even after each goal we were confident," Herman said of the team's mindset Friday. "We didn't let down; we didn't give up. We just need to carry that positivity forward to Murray State."