Men’s soccer beat Virginia Military Institute in high-scoring performance
Sports

Men’s soccer beat Virginia Military Institute in high-scoring performance

The offense was a priority for Belmont in a home matchup against Virginia Military Institute on Tuesday at E.S Rose Park. 

The Bruins won by a margin of five goals to nil in a one-sided matchup 

From kickoff, Belmont looked eager to continue their good run of form. The team fought for possession at every instance and stretched the VMI backline thin. As a result, there was plenty of space for the Bruins to work with. 

It took Belmont just nine minutes to net their first goal of the game. A throw-in deflected out of the 18-yard box fell to midfielder Tanner Carlson. 

The sophomore midfielder played the ball towards freshman A.J. Chastonay, who flicked the ball over VMI’s defenders and into space for forward Niccolo Dagnoni. Belmont’s captain kept calm in an easy one-on-one situation and placed the ball down the center of the goal.

In the 15th minute, the Bruins were gifted a chance to double their lead. Winger Michael Saunders crossed a ball into the penalty area. A defender headed Saunders’ cross into the feet of Ares Marlonsson, who hit a beautifully finessed shot with his side foot, which bent the ball out of the keeper’s reach and into the bottom right corner.

A minute after their second goal, the Bruins caught VMI in the midfield and were once again marching down the field. A poor clearance made by a VMI defender led to an easy interception by Chastonay who made a wild attempt on goal from outside the penalty box. The ball was hit with enough pace to beat the goalkeeper and sneak into the bottom left corner, putting the Bruins up by three goals.

It was a stress-free half for senior goalkeeper Drew Romig and his defenders. The backline was not met with many intimidating challenges. The dominant offense and high pressure that Belmont had established allowed for few chances on Belmont’s goal. 

The second half was simply another offensive showcase for Belmont. Despite their impressive lead, the Bruins were hungry for more goals and weren’t ready to wind down just yet.

In the 58th minute, a flat-footed VMI team was caught off guard by a switch of play that found Dagnoni on the left-wing. He dribbled down the flank and played a through ball to wingback Estaban Lestido, who chipped the ball over the keeper and into the top right corner from a near-impossible angle.

In the final two minutes of the match, Nigel Leo took a corner kick that met freshman Andrew Yowell at the center of the box. Yowell headed the ball into the top right corner, beating the defender guarding the far post and extending the scoreline against a side that never seemed to find their footing throughout the match.

By the end of the match, Belmont outshot their opponents 20-4, putting a total of 12 shots on goal. Meanwhile, Romig remained mostly untested between the posts, only having to deal with one shot on goal the entire game.

Coach David Costa was very content with his team’s performance.

“I am extremely pleased with the result,” he said. “Our performance was very good from start to finish, and we had contributions from numerous players. We won the ball in some great areas and did a good job of creating chances through our movement off the ball.”

Even though the team’s offense is what shined brightest on the pitch, Costa believes that his team’s defensive ability shouldn’t be overlooked.

“The foundation of everything we do is our defending,” Costa asserted. “In our team, everyone defends, and everyone attacks. Our team defending continues to be the strength of our team.”

In training, Costa wants to continue building his team’s chemistry and implement some key players back into the team rotation in order to remain in good form.

“We are approaching a stretch of four games in the next two weeks that will decide who qualifies for the SoCon Tournament. We are looking forward to getting some players healthy and getting stronger in our identity over the coming week.”

Belmont now moves to the top of the table in the Southern Conference with an unbeaten overall record of 4-1-0 and a conference record of 2-0-0. In the meantime, Costa and his Bruins prepare for an away spell that takes them to East Tennessee State University on March 23 and the University of North Carolina Greensboro on March 27.

This article written by David Pang.

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