NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Belmont men's soccer team (1-3-0) had a number of good opportunities to tie the game, but in the end the Bruins fell to Georgia Southern (2-1-1) by a score of 1-0 in the first night of action in the Mafiaoza's Invitational on Friday.
BU came out strong, playing great possession in the midfield, but gave the ball away a few too many times in their own half of the field. Georgia Southern took advantage of that, going on the offensive a number of times in the first half, which amounted to 10 shots, nine corner kicks, and the lone score of the contest.
"We were terrific. We could have been up two goals in the first 15 minutes," Head Coach Earle Davidson said. "Their keeper made one stunning save, and we missed a few other chances. Then they settled in, and they're a good team, so it became an excellent Division 1 soccer game."
The Eagles got on the board in the 36th minute of play after being awarded a free kick just outside the box. Sophomore Drew Ruggles initiated the set piece, but after his attempt broke through the Belmont wall, it was sophomore Hunter Norton that one-timed it past goalkeeper Lou Manning (Southlake, Texas) to give Georgia Southern the 1-0 lead.
The Bruins came out with a lot of intensity in the second half, continuing to keep possession, but limiting the Eagle opportunities and tallying a number of their own offensive chances. Belmont outshot GSU 11 to three in the second frame, and recorded six corner kicks while not allowing a single corner to the Eagles.
The depth of the BU offensive attack was responsible for second half outburst. Starting forwards senior Alex Davis (Rockwall, Texas) and junior Brandon Tarr (Knoxville, Tenn.) each tallied one shot, while seniors Dan Meacock (Sarasota, Fla.) and Will Moorad (Brentwood, Tenn.), and sophomore Alex Jenison (Evansville, Ind.) came off the bench to total 10 shots in the contest.
Meacock had a nose for the goal in all of his 43 minutes played. The forward recorded five shots, two of which were on goal, and all five of which caused problems for the Georgia Southern defense. Moorad finished with four shots, and gave Belmont a great scoring opportunity when he got on the end of a pass from sophomore Diego Figueroa and forced an Eagle foul just outside the box.
"It's important to always have energy up front," Davidson said. "We have that and we also have quality up front. They're all good, and they are varied in talent. They each have different strengths, so we are able to give different looks and different combinations throughout a match. It's so hard to play against us because of the energy they bring each and every game."
The Belmont attack was not able to record a goal, as Georgia Southern came away with the 1-0 road victory. GSU's senior goalkeeper Ryan Platt finished with seven saves, while Manning totaled four for the Bruins in the defeat.
"Either team could have won it, down to the last minute," Davidson concluded. "We came out in the second half and took over the game. Again, their keeper made a number of top drawer saves, and we had another five or six great chances on top of that. It's frustrating that we played so well, and had so many great opportunities, but didn't get the result we felt we deserved."
The final day of competition in the Mafiaoza's Invitational will take place on Sunday, September 11. Lipscomb, who defeated VMI 1-0 Friday afternoon, will take on Georgia Southern at 12:05 p.m. Belmont will then host VMI in the final match of the tournament at 2:35 p.m. at E.S. Rose Park.