Since 1997, Belmont Women's Soccer has carried a proud tradition of excellence on and off the pitch. The Bruins have collected 148 academic conference honors, 17 Academic All-American + District honors, 18 OVC Medal of Honors, 45 All-Conference honors, one NCAA Woman of the Year Top 30 finalist (Ali Alcott), three conference championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
In the classroom, Belmont prides itself in being one of the top academic women's soccer programs in the country. The Bruins have earned the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award 15 straight years and had 21 student-athletes earn a spot on the OVC Commissioner's Honor Roll during the 2019-20 academic year. Belmont has also posted the highest team GPA in NCAA Division I twice as recognized by the National Soccer College Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Entering her 10th season, head coach Heather Henson has lifted Belmont to new heights. She is the program's all-time wins leader and most recently guided the Bruins to the OVC Championship and second NCAA Tournament appearance in program history in 2019.
History of the Program
Belmont Women's Soccer started in 1997, with the first win in program history coming on Sept. 11, 1997 against Martin Methodist (5-0). In just the second season, Belmont recorded a program record of 15 regular season wins in 1998. This included the program's first Power 5 win on Sept. 20, 1998 against Mississippi State (1-0).
Recording 13 wins in 2008, Belmont took home the Atlantic Sun Championship and advanced by way of penalty kicks in the final two matches. The Bruins faced Auburn in its first NCAA Tournament in program history. They followed that up with a regular season championship in 2009.
Belmont has had a total of 11 hat tricks in program history, with Meggan Harris obtaining Belmont's first on Oct. 7, 1997 against Chattanooga. Niki Clements was the most recent Belmont Women's Soccer player to achieve that mark, scoring three goals against Jacksonville State on Oct. 6, 2019. She is the only player in Belmont Women's Soccer history to record a hat trick in the 2010s era.
Niki Clements' Hat Trick Highlights
'This is Good'
Despite facing adversity during the 2019 season, Belmont constantly welcomed the challenge. This was especially true in the OVC Tournament. After defeating Austin Peay in the first round 1-0 in overtime, the Bruins upset No. 3 seed UT Martin 3-2 to advance to its first conference semifinal since 2009.
Upsetting No. 2 seed Murray State 2-1 in the OVC Semifinals, Belmont took on SIUE for the championship. The match came down to penalty kicks, where Belmont was eliminated in the previous two OVC Tournaments. The Bruins, however, completed the job and defeated SIUE in penalty kicks 3-2 to take the OVC Championship.
The following day on Nov. 11, 2019, the Bruins found out they would travel to Chapel Hill, N.C. to face No. 2 North Carolina in the NCAA Tournament. The entire university felt the excitement, from giving a standing ovation to the team at the men's basketball home opener to cheering on the group as the bus left for the Nashville Airport.
Belmont officially played in its second NCAA Tournament in program history on Nov. 16, 2019. Senior goalkeeper Lily Herman recorded 12 saves on the night to collect the most saves in a single season in Belmont Women's Soccer history with 131.
Lifting The Program
Since 2011, head coach Heather Henson has helped the Bruins become nationally acclaimed for academic achievement and community service. Henson recently guided the Bruins to one of the most historic seasons in program history in 2019, with Belmont winning the OVC Tournament as a No. 6 seed and earning its way to the second ever NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
On Sept. 21, 2018, Henson passed Lisa Howe (2005-10) to become the all-time wins leader in Belmont women's soccer history with a 1-0 win over Morehead State. She has 64 wins at Belmont heading into the 2021 Spring season.
In 2016, Henson led the Bruins to previously untouched milestones as they shut out five consecutive conference foes for a total to 531 scoreless minutes over a seven game span. The squad’s record-breaking OVC slate led to Belmont’s first OVC Tournament appearance in four years.
Henson takes tremendous pride in her teams performing well in the classroom. Under Henson's watch, the program has twice posted the highest team GPA in NCAA Division I as recognized by the National Soccer College Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). The Bruins earned the top mark for the 2013-14 school year at 3.73 and for 2014-15 at 3.83. The latter saw Belmont score highest among all NCAA Division I, II and III women's soccer programs. The program has received NSCAA Team Academic honors in each of her years as head coach, also earning the United Soccer Coaches Team Academic Award 15 consecutive years to date. The Bruins have also been awarded OVC Team Academic Achievement Honors in 2012, 2013 and 2014. They also earned the OVC Sportsmanship Award in 2015.
Program Core Values
Belmont Women's Soccer has five words that are the platform for the program.
“Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."
“The willingness to make sacrifices, without knowing the outcome.”
"Unity is Strength”
“What matters is that you’ve fought, learned, and survived.”
"Above all you need...Heart”
Valerie Tysinger is in her third season with the Belmont women's soccer program. She was promoted to the top assistant position in the Spring of 2019. In addition to assisting with the day-to-day operations of the program, Tysinger aids in the development of Belmont's field players while also serving as the team's goalkeeper coach. During the historic 2019 season that resulted in an OVC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, Tysinger guided goalkeeper Lily Herman to a single-season record of 131 saves and the third-most saves in NCAA Women's Soccer in 2019. She helped Herman to All-OVC Tournament Team honors, where Herman collected 34 saves during the OVC Championship run.
Andrew Cameron joined Belmont Women's Soccer as an assistant coach in June 2019. Cameron's impact was immediate, where he played a crucial role in helping Belmont win its first conference title in 11 years and second ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2019. In his role of skill development, Cameron helped Julie Garst, Rachel Vernon and Avery Nowak to All-OVC honors and four players to All-OVC Tournament Team recognition, with Garst winning the Tournament MVP. Cameron joined the Bruins after one season as an assistant coach at nearby Division II Trevecca Nazarene University.
Belmont Women's Soccer is an active participant in community service both locally and nationally. In 2019, Haley Poynter and Rachel Vernon represented the women's soccer program on a Belmont mission trip to Belize. During their stay, they served the people in Benque, Belize, the country's westernmost city, at Benque Nazarene Church. They used their gifts and skills by teaching sports to kids, helping with service projects and building relationships with the local Belizean people.
When Nashville was struck by a tornado in March 2020, the Belmont Women's Soccer program was quick to lend a helping hand. The Bruins volunteered at One Generation Away, packing food and serving the Nashville community for those in need.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Belmont was unable to take its annual in-person mission trip. Instead, Belmont Sports Ministry set up a virtual mission trip through the Show Hope organization so student-athletes can learn about the welfare of children around the world. Student-athletes participated in the Pause Campaign through Show Hope. The Pause Campaign provided an opportunity to refocus students' hearts and minds on what God is doing in the lives of waiting children around the world. Haley Poynter, Rachel Vernon, Emma Sharou, Kayla Monis and Morgan Pettit went through through a daily devotional that goes through scripture and informed the student-athletes on the global orphan crisis.
Morgan Pettit Virtual Mission Trip Reflection