|August 24, 2018||1st||2nd||Final|
|LIP||41:37||LEIJA, Javier (PAYNTER, Logan , DELANEY, Ihaia)|
|Stats at a Glance||BEL||LIP|
|Shots (on Goal)||5 (2)||22 (4)|
NASHVILLE – Walking onto the field for the first time as defending champs, Lipscomb men’s soccer picked right up where it left off after a 2017 ASUN Championship with a throttling 2-0 win over Belmont in the Battle of the Boulevard on Friday night at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex. Goals by Javier Lejia and Ryan Birchfield sealed the win for the Bisons in their season opener.
“I was really proud of the guys tonight,” said Lipscomb head coach Charles Morrow. “Getting a shutout is huge. The first three exhibition games we hadn’t done a lot of work on attacking third stuff. A lot of that started to click tonight. Guys are starting to understand just how to break down defenses and how to pull backlines apart and that was really good to see.”
After taking a year off of an annual men’s soccer rivalry between Lipscomb and Belmont, the Battle of the Boulevard trophy was on the line in the 2018 season opener for both teams. After the first 20 minutes of feeling each other out, it was Lipscomb who jumped to the front foot through a series of set pieces. Senior Ryan Birchfield took all seven of Lipscomb’s first half corners as the Bisons created multiple chances.
Both Scott Gulden and Daniel Mühlbauer hit the crossbar off of corners from Birchfield as the Bisons seemed poised to find the opener. Finally, it was the redshirt sophomore midfielder Lejia who opened the scoring. Lejia found space above the box after link-up play between senior Logan Paynter and sophomore Ihaia Delaney. Lejia whipped in a shot from 20 yards that beat Belmont keeper Alex Seeley to put the Bisons up.
A halftime lead of 1-0 felt like more with Bisons pelting 14 shots at the Belmont net. The onslaught continued into the second half as Lipscomb looked to double its lead. A free kick earned just outside the 18 by Birchfield gave the Bisons an opportunity to do just that and the senior delivered with a perfect bending shot that found the upper 90.
“I stepped up and saw a gap in the wall and went straight over it,” said Birchfield. “[Stephen] Lunney has been really on us to get those free kicks in and get those corners in. All credit to Lunney on that one.”
The Bisons shifted into cruise control to close out a dominating 2-0 win, outshooting Belmont 22-5 and having 13 corners to Belmont’s three. Redshirt senior keeper Chris Zappia kept the clean sheet with two saves as Lipscomb moved to 1-0 on the season.
Lipscomb will be back in action on Monday night at South Carolina for its first road game of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.