Junior Kaitlyn Kerrigan (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) recorded her first career brace to lead the Lees-McRae College women's soccer team to a thrilling 2-1 extra time victory over Mount Olive College on Saturday afternoon, pacing the Bobcats
to their second consecutive Conference Carolinas regular season title on Senior Day.
With the win, Lees-McRae (11-5-1, 10-1 CC) claims the program's second straight outright league title, while also securing the top overall seed in next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament. The Bobcats outshot Mount Olive (7-9-1, 6-5 CC) by a 24-3 margin in the match, including a 13-1 advantage in the second half.
Prior to kickoff, Lees-McRae honored its 2012 senior class, paying tribute to the accomplishments and contributions made by seniors Mary Biehner (Wilmington, N.C.), Mary Bowers (Alexandria, Va.), Jessica Cardenas (Bakersfield, Calif.), Mary Dorn (Shallotte, N.C.), Lauren Griffin (Kernersville, N.C.), and Emily Jones (Leonardtown, Md.) in a pre-match ceremony.
Kerrigan paced the Bobcats with a career-high two goals on a match-best seven shots, tallying her first collegiate brace to account for all of Lees-McRae's scoring on the afternoon. Biehner got the start between the pipes for the Bobcats before being subbed off for junior Alicia Pierson (Brooksville, Fla.), who was called upon to make one save in the match.
Carolin Edenhofner made seven saves for the Trojans while playing the full 93 minutes, as Maddy Robak found the frame with both of her team-high two shots, one of which stroked the back netting. Lauren Power also added an assist for Mount Olive.
The Bobcats got off to a flying start in the sixth minute, taking an early 1-0 lead when Kerrigan collected the clearing attempt off her own corner and delivered a stunning finish inside the far post from 25 yards distance.
Dorn nearly doubled the advantage to 2-0 in the 13th minute, flicking a header on frame that was parried wide by Edenhofner. The Trojans would level against the run of play in the 31st minute, when Robak nodded a corner from Power inside the far post to pull Mount Olive back on terms at 1-1.
The score remained knotted at 1-1 through the interval, with Lees-McRae nearly netting the breakthrough in the 62nd minute when LeeAnn Sullivan (Greensboro, N.C.) forced a fantastic save by Edenhofner with a driven strike from distance.
Neither side would find the winner before time, sending the match into extra time. Lees-McRae notched the lone scoring chance of extra time in the 93rd minute, when the Bobcats were awarded a penalty kick after freshman Sarah Mahar (Jacksonville, Fla.) was pulled down after a tremendous run into the area. Kerrigan delivered from the spot, beating the keeper low and to the right for the extra time winner and the outright conference title.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Monday, October 29 when the top-seeded Bobcats host eighth-seeded King College in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament at 4 p.m. on Tate Field.
Trojans edge Bobcats on Senior Night
The Mount Olive College men's soccer team converted from the penalty spot in the closing seconds of the 67th minute, and held off a furious rally by Lees-McRae College en route to a hard-fought 1-0 win in Conference Carolinas play Saturday evening on Tate Field.
With the win, Mount Olive (6-8-3, 4-4-2 CC) records the program's first victory against Lees-McRae (3-11-3, 2-6-2 CC) since 1994. Lees-McRae outshot Mount Olive by a 16-6 margin in the match, including a 10-3 advantage in the second half as Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) made a pair of stellar saves in the contest.
Prior to kickoff, Lees-McRae honored senior John Williams (Rutherfordton, N.C.) for his contributions to the men's soccer program in a pre-match ceremony as part of its senior day festivities.
Sophomore Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) paced the Bobcats with five attempts at goal in the match, consistently ghosting into the area to trouble the Trojan keeper. Preston Shahdad (Charlotte, N.C.) added a trio of chances on frame as the Bobcats held an 8-3 edge in corner kicks on the night.
Ramon Gallardo registered the lone goal of the match for Mount Olive, finding the frame with each of his three efforts as Kyle Lavender and Nick Bernsdorf combined to keep a clean sheet with two saves.
Lees-McRae nearly got off to a flying start in the ninth minute, when Bernsdorf made a terrific save to parry an effort from Shahdad to preserve the deadlock. Rusling would answer the call himself in the22nd minute, denying an attempt by Gallardo.
Alford and Scott Hudgins (Fort Myers, Fla.) both came within inches of netting the breakthrough in the 39th and 40th minutes as part of a furious attack by the Bobcats, as each of their attempts was parried away from goal by the Trojan defense.
The Bobcats thought they had the breakthrough in the 63rd minute, when James Abraham's (Maidstone, England) header off a long free kick from Rusling was called back for offside. Mount Olive would take advantage of a hand ball in the area in the 67th minute, breaking the deadlock through Gallardo when the junior midfielder converted from the penalty spot to give the Trojans a 1-0 advantage.
Lees-McRae would push forward with relentless fervor over the final 20 minutes in search of an equalizer, launching eight shots toward goal in that span. The Bobcats nearly leveled proceedings in the 84th minute, when Lavender made a leaping save on his line to keep Williams' long-range effort from finding the side netting.
The Bobcats are expected to return 19 lettermen from this year's squad, including rising seniors Rusling, Hudgins, James Galvani (High Wycombe, England), Brandon Meade (Mocksville, N.C.), and Chris DeSanto (Greensboro, N.C.).
Photo Courtesy: Kaitlyn Kerrigan, LMC Athletics