Both games will be played at Belmont’s soccer field as part of the Belmont Invitational, but even Lipscomb Bisons’ coach Charles Morrow admits these are home games for his team.
The Bisons will open with a familiar foe in Gardner-Webb, a former member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The match starts Friday at 4 p.m. on the Belmont campus. The Centenary match will be played Sunday at noon.
“Gardner-Webb had a good result against Mercer, 3-0, and they lost to Georgia State 2-1 in overtime,” Morrow said. “Looking at the film the game with Georgia State could have gone either way.
“There will be some challenges there for us. It will be a big game for us to get off on the right foot for the weekend and build up some confidence.”
The last time the two teams met was in 2008 with the Bisons winning 4-0. Due to a red card violation Gardner-Webb played most of the game one man short. Gardner-Webb holds a 4-3-0 overall series record, but the Bisons have won the last two meetings.
Gardner-Webb is 1-1. The Bisons are 0-2 after losing two games in the Southern Methodist Classic in Dallas Saturday and Monday. The Bisons lost 3-1 to host SMU and fell 4-1 to Tulsa.
“There were times when we gave both SMU and Tulsa trouble,” Morrow said. “What is really important is to take what we learned from this past weekend and apply it to this weekend.”
Morrow expects his players to learn from the mistakes they made, but he also wants them to remember the level of play they faced from both SMU and Tulsa.
“We saw how quickly decisions are made, how quickly you have to work with the ball and how quickly you have to shift and put defensive pressure on players at that level,” Morrow said. “If we can put those things into practice then we will be better.
“We didn’t go to SMU to have a learning experience and lose two games. But what would be discouraging is if we did not learn about the speed of play and carry that over from last weekend to this weekend. The athleticism we saw this past weekend was at such a high level.”
Morrow also wants his players to remember the times they played at a high level in the SMU Classic.
“I want them to realize they have to play quick because there is no time and space,” Morrow said. “If we don’t step up and put pressure on the ball quick then our opponents are going to hurt us. Throughout a 90-minute game we have to apply what we have learned.”
The Bisons only produced two goals in the two games, but Morrow isn’t concerned with his offense at this stage of the season.
“Certainly we want to press our defensive line a little higher and bring the game to both Gardner-Webb and Centenary,” Morrow said. “It wasn’t like we were intending to sit back, but both SMU and Tulsa had their ears pinned back.
“We were absorbing attack after attack after attack. They were coming at us wave after wave.”
Morrow stresses that when you analyze the stats for the first two games the Bisons had a pretty good ratio of chances to goals.
“We did have some opportunities that we should have converted in both games,” Morrow said. “In both games we were down 2-1 and had opportunities to tie and we didn’t convert.
“It would have been nice if we could have finished those chances. It is early in the season and not many teams in the country are firing on all cylinders offensively.”
Morrow knows that most of the teams that are clicking early offensively usually depend primarily on one main scorer.
“Although we have some guys who could be like that we don’t want to be totally geared to something like that,” Morrow said. “We are not too concerned right now. The season has just started.
“It is still early for us. We will see more improvement and more growth as a team this weekend. If we continue to do that we will be all right.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.