Men’s soccer team falls to first place Furman Paladins
Sports

Men’s soccer team falls to first place Furman Paladins

Following a difficult away stretch that saw Belmont University pick up only a single point and lose its top spot in the Southern Conference, the second-placed Bruins stepped onto their home pitch at E.S. Rose Park to challenge new conference leader Furman University. 

The Bruins lost 0-3 in a game filled with frustrations for the home side.

Belmont got an attempt on goal early in the fifth minute with an athletic overhead kick attempt from senior Esteban Lestido. The shot, although flashy, was deflected by a defender and caught by Furman’s goalkeeper.

Before Belmont could find its pace in the game, Furman struck in the 15th minute to put the Paladins up by one goal. A wild attempt by Furman midfielder Miles Fenton,  found its way into the back of the goal when an error made by goalkeeper Drew Romig caused the ball to deflect into his own net.

In the 34th minute, Furman was able to double its lead when a foul conceded by the Bruins at the top of the penalty arch led to a well-positioned free-kick. Furman defender Cole McLagan took the spot-kick and curled the ball perfectly into the top left corner.

Defensively, Belmont looked good early in the half, forcing the Paladins’ offensive efforts to the wide wings. However, as both teams advanced further in the half, Furman looked like the more comfortable team. They managed to find holes in the Bruins’ central defense and were able to play several balls into the penalty area.

Offensively, Belmont had a few chances but failed to find good touches on the ball. A chance created by freshman forward toward junior forward Liam O’Brien was intercepted by the keeper, while a cross by freshman Michael Saunders headed by target man Jordan Dozzi went wide of the goal. An attempt by Estaban Lestido outside of the box was close but narrowly saved by Furman’s keeper.

At the end of the half, Belmont led the shooting 7-6 and forced four saves from Furman’s keeper. Unfortunately, the Bruins team was unable to score any goals.

In the second half, Belmont began to play with more purpose. Players had better chances on goal and locked down their defense more efficiently than they had done in the first half. The Bruins kept their opponents to only three shots for the entire half, while putting eight shots of their own towards their opponent’s goal.

In the 63rd minute, it appeared as if junior midfielder Kyle Barks split his opponent’s lead in half with a grounded shot to the bottom right corner that left the keeper with no chance. However, a linesman made a controversial offside call on freshman A.J. Chastonay. Chastonay was not involved in the play at all nor was the ball played to him, leaving the Bruins frustrated. The goal was disallowed and a frustrated Belmont team remained trailing by two goals.

Coach David Costa was disappointed with the quality of officiating at that moment but doesn’t blame the officials for his side’s loss.

“It is always difficult when a goal is incorrectly disallowed. However, it is a part of the game, and tonight, we were outworked by a good team.”

Although the Bruins defense improved in the second half, Furman was more efficient with its chances. Late in the second half, Miles Fenton got himself a brace when he took advantage of a defensive breakdown and hammered a shot into the right side of the goal, sealing the victory for his side.

Regarding the loss, Costa saw the team’s early mishaps as a primary reason for his side’s defeat.

“Credit to Furman, as they are a very good team,” He said. “We spotted them early goals on mistakes and had to play catch up all game. We played our way into the game and created enough chances to be back in the match but did not finish.

Nonetheless, Costa also had some positives to take away from this defeat.

“The chances that we generated were very high quality,” Costa said. “Jack Shaw and Kyle Barks continue to be excellent in each phase of play for our team.”.

Moving forward,  Costa says that the most important thing for his team right now is to recover physically over the next few days and be ready to play their next game on Saturday, April 3.

Belmont’s record drops to 5-2-2 and the team drops down to fourth on the Southern Conference table.

The Bruins will play their final regular-season game at E.S. Rose Park against Mercer University, last season’s conference champions, a game that will decide Belmont’s final position on the regular-season table and its seed in the SoCon Tournament.

This article written by David Pang.

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