MOUNT OLIVE, NC - Top seeded Lees-McRae College advanced to the Conference Carolinas Championship game Sunday afternoon after defeating fifth seeded Belmont Abbey 3-1 in semifinal action Friday evening hosted by Mount Olive College. The Bobcats improve to 18-1-1 while Abbey ends their season with a 13-9.
Junior Matt Lacey (Norwich, England) put the Bobcats, ranked number two in the country, on the board first, burying his eighth of the season in the 16th minute from 20 yards out of a cross from classmate Kyle McGimsey. The Bobcats outshot Abbey 13-0 in the first half, but had to settle for just a one goal lead after 45:00 minutes as the Crusaders Bryan Alenky held down the fort registering five saves.
Unhappy with a one goal lead, the Bobcats came out strong in the second, increasing their lead just over two minutes in. Freshman Tom Brailsford's (Rotherham, England) corner kick found Conference Carolinas leading scorer Lee Squires (Sheffield, England), who one touched the ball past Alenky for his 21st of the season, giving the nationally ranked Bobcats a two goal cushion. Dale Parker (Worksop, England) finished the scoring for the Bobcats in the 73rd minute, finding the back of the net for his third of the season, connecting on Berin Boracic' (Orlando, FL) corner kick. Abbey spoiled the Bobcats shutout in the 79th minute, as Jesse Pitts capitalized on a free kick from 28 yards out.
"Obviously we're pleased to be going to the final, we had to earn our way there against a tough team in Abbey," stated Head Coach Chris Whalley. "We have another tough match against Queens and must continue taking the season game by game. We can't just be happy to be there."
Sean Paradise (North Point, FL) picked up a pair of saves for the Bobcats while Alenky finished with a handful and Seth Lowther registered two for Abbey. The Bobcats finished the game outshooting Abbey 22-4.
The #2 Bobcats will take on second seeded Queens Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm looking for their first Conference Tournament Championship since 2002.
PICTURED TOP LEFT: Matt Lacey
UPPER BOTTOM: Dale Parker
LOWER BOTTOM: Lee Squires