Belmont Abbey's Ameer Pinto and Breck Collins both scored their second career goals in the first half, but Lenoir-Rhyne netted two unanswered late in the first half to end the scoring as both teams overcame heavy rainstorms to battle to a 2-2 draw this evening in Hickory in the season opener for both teams.
It is Belmont Abbey's first tie since October 8, 2011, which was also a 2-2 tie at home against Florida Southern. It is also the first draw in a season opener since 2004, a 1-1 stalemate at Clayton State.
All four goals in the match came in the first half as the Abbey stormed ahead 2-0 in the first 35 minutes. Collins moved the Crusaders ahead 1-0 in the twelfth minute, as he redirected Declan McQuillan's corner kick with his forehead, beating Jorge Hernandez for his second career goal and the first since September 12, 2012, a 3-1 win at Barton.
23 minutes later, Pinto recorded his second career goal as he intercepted a failed Bears clear and beat Hernandez to double the Abbey's lead to 2-0.
Five minutes later, however, Lenoir-Rhyne cut the lead in half as Ben Jones set up Ben Meredith on a give and go and slided a shot past Mickey Raine. Three minutes later, the Bears drew level as DeJean Charlton sent a cross to Josh Alderson, whose header sailed past Raine for what turned out to be the final goal of the evening.
Belmont Abbey had a chance to win the game in the 90th minute, as Hernandez swatted away McQuillan's chance with seven seconds left to preserve the tie.
Lenoir-Rhyne outshot the Abbey 21-16 but the Crusaders held a 7-6 edge in corner kicks. Raine stopped four shots, all in the first half. Alex Trujillo tended goal the final 65 minutes and stopped three shots.