NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In front of a crowd of 1,308 Saturday night at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex the Lipscomb men’s soccer team knocked off arch-rival Belmont 3-2 in the double overtime to open the 2014 season in the team’s first exhibition match.
“It is always good to get a result at home, especially against Belmont,” coach Charles Morrow said. “We are pleased with the effort and the intensity overall, but there is always room for improvement. There is a lot of season still left ahead of us, but for the most part, I like where we are at.”
The Bisons have not lost in the ‘Battle of the Boulevard’ since 2005.
Lipscomb jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when junior Zach Tarbox found himself one-on-one with a Belmont defender and struck a 16-yard shot into the net to give the Purple and Gold faithful something to cheer about in the 17th minute.
The Bisons controlled possession for much of the first period, but with six minutes until halftime, Belmont’s AJ Arnold scored to knot the game at 1-1 heading into the break.
Last season when midfielder Josue Chavez went down with a season-ending injury midway through the season, Lipscomb lost one of its most lethal offensive weapons. Saturday night, it was happy to have him back on the pitch.
At the 65:45 mark the junior struck a curling liner from 25 yards into the upper right 90 to give Lipscomb a 2-1 lead in the second period.
“Up until his injury, Josue was one of our most dangerous players last season,” said Morrow. “It certainly looks like he is playing to the form where he left off at last season, if not better, and we are glad to have him back.
“For me, he was player of the match.”
The Bruins did not waste much time and answered just 10 minutes later.
Rashad Hyacenth netted an equalizer in the 75th minute.
The match would remain tied for the next 27 minutes of play.
With the Bisons charging, Belmont was whistled for a foul inside the box at 102:13, giving Lipscomb a chance at a penalty kick to win the match.
Senior Luke Gearin, A-Sun Preseason Defender of the Year, was called upon to put the team on his shoulders.
With the crowd quietened to a whisper, the Aussie stared down the goalie before striking the game-winner into the net to give Lipscomb the victory.
“I am so happy for Luke,” Morrow said. “He is so well-deserving of the awards he received in the preseason. The way he leads and carries himself is a huge plus for us. It is great to have that kind of leadership on the team. He is going to have a big year.”
Seven freshmen saw quality minutes Saturday. Rookie Nate Davis replaced sophomore Micah Bledsoe in the net to begin the second period and was very impressive in his debut. The St. Louis, Missouri native recorded four saves.
His highlight of the night came early in the second half when Matt Vuylsteke got behind the Bison defense to challenge Davis one-one-one. The freshman goalie came out of the net and made two diving highlight-reel blocks.
Lipscomb returns to the pitch Aug. 23 on the road in Birmingham, Alabama to take on UAB at 7 p.m.