The Belmont Bruins historic postseason run came to an end on Saturday in a 5-0 loss to No. 1-seeded North Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
It was just the second-ever appearance in the tournament in Belmont history, which was set up by a magical four-game run that saw the Bruins become the first-ever No. 6 seed to win the Ohio Valley Conference tournament just to reach the NCAAs.
“As I reminded (the team), there’s 64 teams that earn their spot and we are one of 64 teams and they should be proud of that,” Belmont coach Heather Henson said. “To watch these young ladies and play against North Carolina, who has such a strong tradition of winning national championships, and battle with them throughout the entire game, I’m elated. I’m so proud. My heart is so full of joy because they brought to this game what they bring to every single game. They battled with their heart.”
Albeit in a losing effort, Belmont senior keeper Lily Herman did write her name in the record books. Herman posted 12 saves against the Tar Heels, breaking the Belmont single-season saves record with 131. The previous record of 130 was set back in 2004 by Micaela Crowley.
“Coming into this year, it was kind of cool being able to see yourself on the stat leaderboard and what not,” Herman said. “More importantly, we were able to make such a big impact this season as a team. This 2019-20 team is going to forever go down in history books. I’m so thankful to be a part of this team and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”
“Lily has been a leader this entire season and tonight showed it again,” Henson added. “I’m so proud for her to write her name in the record books and it’s just another way to show what an amazing leader she has been for us.”
Belmont’s eight seniors — Herman, Kameron Ziesig, A.B. Hawkins, Shannon Maitland, Mackenzie Firek, Jordan Chawan, Niki Clements and Hannah Diaz — leave as one of the more accomplished senior classes in program history.
The group became the first senior class to reach the OVC tournament in all four years, while becoming the first No. 6 seed and lowest-ever seed to win the OVC championship.
“To leave a legacy is an honor,” Firek said. “I feel thankful that I was able to represent the Belmont jersey well, make a statement for [the university] and put our name on the map. I’m really excited to see what the future holds for Belmont. We have so much momentum leaving this season that I just know in the future, they’re going to keep making these appearances and keep winning OVC Championships. Belmont is going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Added Henson: “They left their legacy. They accomplished their goals, not only winning the OVC Championship, but finding a way and earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament. At the same time, they also brought such a deeper level to our team and our family. They opened that door for our faith to be brought out even more. Every game, giving glory to God, because He blessed us all with talents and those young ladies drove those talents He gave them.”