|August 19, 2016||1st||2nd||1OT||2OT||Final|
|LIP||15:23||DOAK, Olivia (DUBOISE, Natalie )|
|BU||42:19||Whalen, Grace (Ferrari, Heather )|
|Stats at a Glance||BU||LIP|
|Shots (on Goal)||18 (7)||14 (6)|
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb women’s soccer team opens the 2016 regular season at home this weekend facing Belmont and Vanderbilt.
“We call them local darbies in soccer,” Lipscomb coach Kevin O’Brien said. “Even though we are right at the beginning of the year hopefully the fans of all three schools will get into it and support their teams.”
The soccer version of the “Battle of the Boulevard” begins Friday at 7 p.m. The Vanderbilt game is scheduled Sunday at 5 p.m.
It is the regular season opener for both Belmont, from the Ohio Valley Conference, and Lipscomb from the Atlantic Sun. The two teams have not met in the regular season since 2013, a 4-0 win in 2013. Lipscomb won 3-0 last season in an exhibition game and 2-0 in 2014 in another exhibition game.
“It is going to be a challenge,” O’Brien said. “Belmont gets up for this game. We get up for it. Sometimes you have to temper those emotions and play the good soccer you are capable of playing. That is part of the message we have been sharing with our girls is to not let the occasion overwhelm them.”
Belmont has eight starters returning from a team that was 4-12-2 last season. Junior forward Bulicia Mendiola, the leader in scoring for the past two seasons, returns. She scored three goals and finished with seven points. Sophomore Stephanie Bukovec is back in the net as goalkeeper.
“Belmont is a huge game,” O’Brien said. “They have recruited well. They are putting it together. They are going to have a stronger side than we have faced the last few games. We are not for a second underestimating their talent, their team or their coaching.”
The Lady Bisons, 12-4-4 last season and 6-1 in the conference, enter the season with high expectations. The ASUN coaches voted Lipscomb second in the conference in a preseason poll. The Lady Bisons received one first place vote. FGCU was predicted to finish first.
“We are going to continue to be strong defensively,” O’Brien said. “I believe that is part of the identity of this team. We have some players coming back into the squad who have been out and that is going to strengthen us on defense.
“We are going to play good counter-attacking soccer. Hopefully, we have added to our attack corps. We want to score more goals. Fans want to see goals. But the reward of good defending is if you get the ball you are going to go on the attack. You defend to win the ball and do something special with it.”
O’Brien points to the maturity of the team as being one of the keys for success this season. Senior Anna Buhigas, a two-time winner of Goalkeeper of the Year honors, was unanimously selected as ASUN Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year. Redshirt junior Niamh Rawlins was named Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Buhigas, Rawlins and senior center back Carolyn Springsteen are serving as the team captains.
“This is the first year we have had such a mature team so there are high expectations,” O’Brien said. “When you have maturity it enables you to set your expectations higher. We believe we can compete at the highest level ever for our program.”