NEWLAND, N.C. --- Freshman goalkeeper Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) made a pair of tremendous saves in a penalty kick shootout Saturday after the Bobcats played to a scoreless draw with fifth-seeded Pfeiffer University at MacDonald Stadium on the campus of Avery County High School.
Lees-McRae (12-4-3) outshot the Falcons (4-7-6) by a 31-3 margin on the day, including a 14-0 advantage in the second half as Pfeiffer was forced to play with 10 men for the final 55 minutes of the match. Lee Squires (Sheffield, England) paced the Bobcats with seven shots, while James Galvani (High Wycombe, England) and David Palmer (Gateshead, England) chipped in six and five attempts, respectively.
Both sides have multiple scoring chances throughout the initial 90 minutes, as Pfeiffer's Alex Moreno (Huntersville, N.C.) recorded 10 saves to keep the Falcons in the match. Rusling made a pair of stops for the Bobcats.
Neither team could find the back of the net through 90 minutes of regulation, as well as each period of extra time, to send the match into a penalty kick shootout. Sam Kennedy (The East End, London, England) and Palmer both converted their attempts to open the shootout, while Pfeiffer's Alex Landim (Brockton, Mass.) and Boo Tesh (Kannapolis, N.C.) found the back of the net in the second and third rounds to send the shootout into the fourth round even at 2-2.
Jamie Bladen (Yorkshire, England) delivered what turned out to be the deciding strike in the fourth round, burying his attempt in the back of the net to put the Bobcats up 3-2. Rusling stepped in and made two of the biggest saves of his young career, stopping the Falcons' fourth and fifth attempts to propel the Bobcats into the final.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Sunday when the Bobcats host sixth-seeded Coker College in the Conference Carolinas Tournament Final. The match is slated to kick off at 1 p.m. at Tate Field.
- LMC -