NASHVILLE, Tenn.- After scoring its first goal of the season in the 53rd minute, the Belmont women's soccer team fell short to Lipscomb 2-1 in the Battle of the Boulevard on Sunday at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.
The Bruins held the lead for 21 minutes in the second half, but two goals in the final 15 minutes of the match allowed the Bisons to claim the victory over Belmont.
"(We) played to such a better level in team defending and our team attack and connecting our first, second and third passes than Thursday," head coach Heather Henson said. "It was a big point of emphasis that we are moving in the right direction. It wasn't there for 90 minutes, but it was a big step that we needed to take in the season from Thursday to tonight. We go into Tuesday's training and that expectation is raised again."
To shake things up, Henson made two changes to the starting 11 for Sunday's matchup. Forward Paige Hewitt made her first start since Oct. 26, 2018 while Sydney Cason, who was coming off a season-ending injury in 2018, made her first start since Oct. 29, 2017.
The move helped improve the Bruins' defense, limiting Lipscomb to seven shots on goal after allowing 10 shots on goal to Western Kentucky on Thursday. With rain pouring on and off the field, both teams were limited in offensive opportunities and carried aggressive play throughout a scoreless first half.
Pushing that back-and-forth style in the midfield and building up attacks to start the second half, the Bruins capitalied on a free kick following a Lipscomb foul.
Hewitt attempted a shot past the Lipscomb defenders and through the hands of Bisons' goalkeeper Hannah Parrish, resulting in Belmont's first goal of the season and allowing them to take a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute.
The goal was Hewitt's second career goal, with her last coming on Sept. 28, 2018 against Eastern Illinois.
"In that range, in that distance, it's just important to get (the shot) on frame and put some power on it, not lift it too much," Hewitt said. "Just make it driven and hopefully it goes in and that (shot) did."
After holding the lead for 21 minutes, Lipscomb managed to respond in the 74th minute. Olivia Doak tied the game with a goal off an assist from Maycie McKay, coming up with the go-ahead goal 11 minutes later.
Doak scored her second goal of the evening following an assist from Hailey Eck, allowing Lipscomb to snatch the Battle of the Boulevard.
"I think we let off the gas a little bit," Henson said. "We were winning. We were emotionally excited, but we have to then keep our intensity high and emotions down. I think that caught up with us a little bit and they started gaining momentum. Then they got the tying goal and I think we didn't put our foot back on the pedal.
"It was a little bit of, 'we're going to keep battling, but we're going to be cautious.' I think that's where that next step is for us, as we talked about as a team. That's where we're continuing to raise our expectations."
Senior goalkeeper Lily Herman came up with five saves on Sunday, marking the sixth consecutive match where she has collected four or more saves. Belmont wraps up the three-game road trip on Friday at Southern Illinois at 6 p.m.