Earlier this week, the MTSU soccer team faced hated in-state rival, Belmont University, in a key non-conference match at the Dean A. Hayes Track and Soccer Stadium. At the same time, the Blue Raiders are preparing for Sun Belt conference play to begin in a couple of weeks.
MTSU was looking for its best start since 2009 when it faced Belmont.
This match was no different as the Blue Raiders made it three wins in a row with a 3-0 win over the Bruins and improved its record to 5-2 on the season. The MTSU soccer team's only two losses were to SEC teams – Vanderbilt and Ole Miss.
“It's very big with conference (play) coming up,” MTSU senior forward Regina Thomas said. “It builds our confidence going into those (Sun Belt) games. We like the way we are playing right now.”
Also, MTSU had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the SBC scoring a total of 23 goals coming into the game. Earlier in the season, the Blue Raiders won a game scoring 10 goals and another won in which it tallied seven in a game. In every match that MTSU has won this season, the offense has scored at least a pair of goals.
“I think a lot of it has been growth,” MTSU head coach Aston Rhoden said after the match. “We have 13 new players, and they are starting to figure things out better. We are fortunate that returning players are spread out on different parts of the team.”
Against the Bruins, the Blue Raider scoring rush began in the 24th minute, when freshman midfielder Amalie Anderdal lofted a ball deep to senior forward Regina Thomas, who was breaking toward the goal. Thomas slid it past the Belmont goalkeeper inside the near post to give the Blue Raiders an early 1-0 advantage. The half ended with Blue Raiders ahead 1-nil. The Blue Raiders out shot the Bruins in the first half nine shots on goal to one.
In the second half, the Bruins almost evened the score at a goal apiece in the 51st minute when Bruin forward Cassie Blasé got into open space inside the box, but her shot went wide on the near side. MTSU freshman goalkeeper Kelsey Brouwer also got a hand on the ball and kept it out of the net.
Thomas scored again for the Blue Raiders in the 60th minute, when she got the ball inside the penalty area. Her first shot was blocked by the Bruin goalkeeper, but the ball came back to her. Thomas gathered herself dribbled by a couple of Bruin defenders and put it in the back of the net. It was her second goal of the game, and fourth of the season.
Five minutes later, Belmont almost got on the board, but its shot went off the post. The Blue Raiders went on the counterattack, in which Anderdal found a wide open senior forward Whitney Jorgenson, who put it past the Bruin GK to make the score 3-nil. It was Jorgenson’s fourth goal of the season. It was Anderdal’s second assist of the match. Brouwer held the Bruin offense scoreless in the win for her second shutout of the season.
“I felt like our defense played very well, and I came up with a save when it was needed,” Brouwer said after the match. “Overall, the team played great defense, today and props to them.”
On Sunday, the Blue Raider soccer team finishes up non-conference play with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Memphis. The next home match is also the SBC opener on Sept. 21 against Arkansas-Little Rock.