CARBONDALE, Ill.- With Belmont women's soccer meeting Southern Illinois for the first time in program history, the Salukis snagged the first win of the series with a 1-0 victory over the Bruins on Friday night at the Lew Hartzog Track and Field Complex.
"The ladies did a good job of what we were working on this week in terms of continuing to build our team attack," head coach Heather Henson said. "I thought that they did a good job of staying in the game plan, which allowed them to create some great opportunities. I thought we did a much better job tonight of finding that final pass in the attacking third. I just think we weren't clinical enough or technical enough on our finish."
With Southern Illinois giving out stadium horns to the first 100 fans in the stadium, Carbondale quickly turned into a mock FIFA World Cup environment. The Bruins used that feeling to be the early aggressor, outshooting the Salukis in the first half.
SIU's offensive opportunities were knocked away by the Belmont defense in the penalty area or resulted in a drawn foul, giving the Bruins the advantage in possession during the final stretch of the first 45 minutes. The Bruins set up Julie Garst for two shot on goal opportunities in the final two minutes of the first half, giving them the momentum heading into the locker room.
"In the first half, we had the momentum. We were just unable to get a shot in," Henson said. "We had more opportunities in the final third and we connected theVictory ball. Just didn't finish it. I think they built upon that momentum into the second half."
Belmont continued its aggression in the second half, with Rachel Vernon knocking the ball out of play to save the potential goal in the 54th minute. In a match with limited offensive opportunities in the second half, SIU capitalized off a free kick situation in the 61st minute.
After a foul was called on Belmont, the Salukis scored the go-ahead goal courtesy of Kaitlyn Stone off the assist from Andrea Rodriguez. The Bruins attempted to claw their way to tie it up, gaining shot opportunities in the late minutes.
SIU goalkeeper Dariana Mihalache prevented the match from going into a tie, collecting four saves in the process.
"We created far more chances in that final pass. We just have to be more technical and finish the final shot," Henson said. "It's a step forward in the right direction in terms of middle into attacking third and now our final pass into the attacking third. Now we just have to make sure we're being technical on our finish and being able to place it and put it away.
Belmont's next outing is at Rose Park, the first time the Bruins have seen their home field during the 2019 season. The Bruins take on Georgia for the first time in program history on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.