Freshman Sarah Mahar (Jacksonville, Fla.) scored midway through the 51st minute to lead the Lees-McRae College women's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over King College in Conference Carolinas play
on Tate Field Tuesday evening. With the win, Lees-McRae (10-5-1, 9-1 CC) clinches at least a share of the league's regular season title for the second straight year, securing the top seed in next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament by virtue of its victory over Belmont Abbey College earlier this fall.
The Bobcats controlled the run of play for much of the match, dominating possession and outshooting King (4-8-2, 3-6-2 CC) by a 25-3 margin, including an 18-1 onslaught in the second half. Mahar accounted for all the scoring in the match, tying for the team-lead with her sixth goal of the campaign as Meagan Thornton (Millville, N.J.) added an assist. Alicia Pierson (Brooksville, Fla.) kept a clean sheet with one save on the night, while Tornado keeper Morgan Lawson tallied 10 saves in a fine effort for King.
Neither team would find the breakthrough in the opening 45 minutes, with the best chance of the half coming in the sixth minute when Emily Jones' (Leonardtown, Md.) point-blank effort off a Kaitlyn Kerrigan (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) corner was parried just wide by the Tornado keeper.
Mahar would break the deadlock less than six minutes into the second half, unleashing a blast from 20 yards out into the bottom corner off a pass from Thornton to give the Bobcats a 1-0 advantage. The freshman forward nearly doubled the margin to 2-0 10 minutes later, ringing a shot off the bar from just outside the area at the hour mark.
King nearly leveled proceedings with its best scoring chance of the day in the 67th minute, when Rachel Thorpe's ball across the face of an open Bobcat goal was expertly headed clear by freshman defender Kate Brandon (Charlotte, N.C.). The Bobcats would continue to push forward in search of a second over the final 20 minutes, forcing Lawson into four skillful saves to preserve the one-goal margin.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday when the Bobcats host Mount Olive College with a chance to secure the outright conference crown for the second year in a row. The Bobcats will honor their 2012 senior class prior to kickoff, which is slated for 2 p.m. on Tate Field.
King Survives Bobcat Rally
The King College men's soccer team scored two goals in the first half, and held off a furious rally by Lees-McRae College en route to a narrow 3-2 victory in Conference Carolinas play on Tuesday evening on Tate Field. Lees-McRae (3-10-3, 2-5-2 CC) dominated possession for much of the match, outshooting King (2-14, 2-8 CC) by a 24-7 margin, including a 15-3 advantage in the second half. James Smith (Eastbourne, England) and Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) each found the back of the net for the Bobcats, as Brandon Starling (Fuquay-Varina, N.C.) added an assist and Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) recorded four saves.
Luis Alonso paced the Tornado with two goals, including the winner early in the second half, as Cheo Armstrong added a strike of his own. Joshua Feener tallied five saves between the pipes for King, as Thomas Dube chipped in a team-high three shots on frame.
King got off to a flying start in the 11th minute, taking an early 1-0 lead when Armstrong converted from the penalty spot after a hand ball in the area. The Tornado would double the advantage to 2-0 midway through the 15th minute, when Alonso ran onto the end of a long ball from the back and chipped it over the keeper for his first tally of the night.
The Bobcats nearly halved the advantage to 2-1 at the 20-minute mark, when Starling's strike off a cross from Preston Shahdad (Charlotte, N.C.) was negated by the linesman's flag. Smith narrowly missed a spot on the score sheet eight minutes later, sending a glorious effort just left of the woodwork off a corner.
The second half opened with a flurry of goals, the first of which coming off the foot of Alford in the 49th minute when the sophomore forward ran onto a through ball from Starling, and slotted the finish into the bottom corner to halve the margin to 2-1. Alonso countered less than a minute later, nodding home a free header off a deflected cross to give the Tornado a 3-1 lead.
Lees-McRae again cut the margin to one midway through the 50th minute, capitalizing on a Tornado miscue in the area when Smith smashed a penalty into the upper 90 to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Bobcats relentlessly pushed forward in search of an equalizer over the next 20 minutes, peppering the Tornado goal with six glorious opportunities in that span. Shahdad looked arguably the most dangerous of the Bobcats in the second half, unleashing a trio of tremendous efforts toward goal over the final 25 minutes, including a skillful half volley in the 69th minute that nearly dipped into the top corner from distance.
Feener stood tall for King in the final minutes, making a tremendous diving stop on a late effort by Smith to preserve the one-goal advantage and seal the win for the Tornado.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday when the Bobcats host Mount Olive College in conference play. The Bobcats will honor their 2012 senior class prior to kickoff, which is slated for 4 p.m. on Tate Field.
Photo Courtesy: Sarah Mahar, LMC Athletics