The Lady Bisons lost 2-0 Tuesday night to Belmont in the women's soccer version of the "Battle of the Boulevard".
An estimated crowd of 409 watched the game at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.
“The crowd was awesome,” said Lady Bisons coach Jon Ireland. “I thought it was the biggest crowd we have played in front of at home.”
The two teams battled to a scoreless tie in the first half with Belmont scoring twice in the second half to seal the Atlantic Sun victory.
“It was really a tale of two halves,” said Ireland. “We came out and completely outplayed them in the first half.
“I thought the first five or six minutes of the game they put us under a lot of pressure and we struggled. After that our players realized we could not only play with Belmont, but outplay them.”
The failure of the Lady Bisons to score in the first half was not because of a lack of trying. They outshot Belmont 11-3 in the first half and held a 6-2 edge in shots on goal.
“We had several good chances,” said Ireland. “Against a good team like Belmont you have to take advantage of your chances. If we had scored early in the game it would have been completely different.”
In the second half the momentum shifted with Belmont attempting 19 shots and the Lady Bisons managing only three. Freshman midfielder Martika Powe led the Lady Bisons with five shot attempts, including two shots on goal.
“Martika was awesome,” said Ireland. “She controlled the midfield and won so many balls. Belmont typically has a very strong midfield and our girls just outplayed them all over the place in the first half.
“Meghan McGuire had her best game of the year in the midfield. Brandi Besheres played well up top. Danielle Bethke really played one of her better games in her career. Emily Longden is playing better and better.”
Freshman Ally Marler went the distance for the Lady Bisons in net. She made seven saves. One save was credited to the Lady Bisons as a team.
Sari Lin was in goal for Belmont, She made seven saves.
Belmont broke the scoreless tie when Belmont’s Jayme Trocino off of a corner kick at 56:46. Annie Musacchio scored an unassisted goal for the Lady Bisons off of a rebound at 67:19 of the second half.
“That first goal really deflated us,” said Ireland. “Belmont smelled blood in the water after that and they were like sharks. They put a lot more pressure on us in the second half.
“It was unfortunate. I thought we played with high energy. It is the first time I can remember when we outplayed Belmont.”
The most encouraging part of the game for Ireland was the play of his freshmen.
“Overall, as a team a lot of our players had the best game that they have played all year,” said Ireland. “They did all of the little things we have talked about. They focused on the details.
“Our back line did a really good job against a very good Belmont team. We were organized. We kept a good shape. We did everything we needed to do to give us a chance.”
It was the fourth straight win for Belmont.
The Lady Bisons are 2-8, 0-2 in the conference. Belmont is 5-4-1, 2-0 in the A-Sun.
The Lady Bisons are back in action at home Friday night when USC Upsate visits the Lipscomb Soccer Complex.