Big victories for some coaches are celebrated by a cold drenching of a sports drink or water, but for Lipscomb Lady Bisons’ coach Jon Ireland it was enough to simply be soaked in his emotions.
As soon as the final buzzer sounded Friday night on a 2-1 win over top rival Belmont, Ireland retreated to the shadows to sit alone on the team bench and watch his players celebrate the program’s first ever win over the Bruins.
“I’ve seen so much anguish, sadness and hurt on the faces of our players,” Ireland said. “We have had so many heartbreakers. We haven’t been able to finish out games against very good teams.
“It was great to see our players going from being just crushed to seeing them overjoyed. This is going to be a game they always remember. I wanted to take a minute to take it all in. And I didn’t want them to see me cry.”
Belmont is leaving the Atlantic Sun Conference. Ireland stressed to his players that this could well be their last chance to beat the Bruins.
“There are a few days that come by that are magical,” Ireland said. “We have been through a lot. This was a credit to all of our girls.
“I know what it meant to our seniors. They have been through a lot and they have kept believing and kept fighting. It was great to see their joy. We were blessed.”
The Lady Bisons record is 4-9-1 overall, 2-3-0 in the conference. Belmont slipped to 6-6-0, 3-2-0 in the A-Sun.
Forward Kirsten Heikkinen opened the scoring for the Lady Bisons with a header in the box at 8:01 off of a high cross from defender Andie Thornton.
Belmont tied the game at 35:26 when Gretchen Sutch scored.
Defender Katie Wood scored what proved to be the winning goal on a header off of a corner kick from forward Danielle Bethke at 77:19.
“It is absolutely the most satisfying goal I have ever scored,” Wood said. “I loved scoring header goals in high school, but I had been in a dry spell in college.
“Danielle made an ideal corner kick. It was extremely satisfying. We fought this one out as a team. We were so happy to win this one for coach.”
The two goals were the first the Lady Bisons had scored against Belmont since 2008. In their previous nine matches with Belmont the Lady Bisons had managed only five goals.
“We have been run off the field by Belmont in the past,” Ireland said. “We were able to play with them in this game.
“We deserved it. We weren’t outplayed at all. We were able to make the plays at the end that won the game.”
It is the first time since 2009 that the Lady Bisons have won two conference games. It is also the first time ever that they have won two conference games in a row.
Belmont outshot the Lady Bisons 18-5 and held an 8-4 advantage in shots on goal, but Ireland thinks the stat is deceiving.
“Most of their shots were from the distance,” Ireland said. “They had a couple that were a little scary, but most of them were not of great quality. Shots can be misleading since someone can take a 40-yard shot and have it roll to the keeper.
“We did a tremendous job against a very, very good team. Hopefully, this is a game we can build on.”
The Lady Bisons will try to extend their streak Oct. 14 when they visit Jacksonville followed by a stop at North Florida Oct. 16.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.