BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Freshman Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) scored the first two goals of his collegiate career on Saturday evening, as the Lees-McRae College men's soccer team executed a second half rally to perfection in a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Barton College in Conference Carolinas play.
Lees-McRae (5-3-1, 3-1 CC) outshot Barton (7-2, 4-2 CC), ranked fifth in the Southeast Region, by a 20-7 margin, including a 17-2 advantage in the second half. Alford paced the Bobcats with his first two goals of the season, as James Galvani (High Wycombe, England) added two assists and James Smith (Eastbourne, England) chipped in a helper of his own. Senior Tyler Gibson (Gastonia, N.C.) made the start and played the full 90 minutes between the pipes for the Bobcats, making three saves.
Danilo Matos tallied the lone goal for Barton, as Erik Pajunk paced the Bulldogs with four attempts at goal, including two on frame. Brian Riesenberg played the first 77 minutes in net for the Bulldogs, making six saves before he was forced to leave because of injury. Dalton Bauer played the final 14 minutes in his stead, stopping two attempts at goal.
Matos broke the deadlock midway through the 30th minute, beating the defender and looping a fantastic finish over the keeper and into the far side netting to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead heading into the interval.
The Bobcats came out firing in the second half, looking the far more dangerous side throughout the first 20 minutes of the period. Galvani was denied the equalizer on four consecutive chances in a four-minute span, with the last two being denied by the keeper. Smith nearly netted a highlight reel goal in the 66th minute, easily breaking through the defense and executing a deft spin move before his finishing effort was touched just wide by the keeper.
After a David Palmer (South Shields, England) effort was pulled off the line and the Barton keeper denied John Williams' (Rutherfordton, N.C.) header, Galvani made a brilliant run down the flank and into the area. The sophomore forward then sent a well-timed cross to Smith in the center of the box, who flicked it on to Alford, putting the freshman in perfect position to slot the finish under the keeper and pull the Bobcats back on terms at 1-1 in the 75th minute.
The match went into a significant delay two minutes later, when Riesenberg was involved in a fierce collision on the back post, which propelled him into the woodwork and forced him from the contest. Bauer entered in his absence, and just over a minute later, Alford made a brilliant run onto a through ball from Galvani and delivered a perfectly-paced finish into the bottom corner to complete the comeback.
The Bobcats held on over the final 12 minutes, nearly extending the margin to two goals on glorious chances from Galvani and Preston Shahdad (Charlotte, N.C.) before the final whistle blew, giving Lees-McRae a pivotal win in both conference and regional play.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Tuesday when the Bobcats travel to Jefferson City, Tenn. to take on Carson-Newman College in NCAA Division II Southeast Region action at 7 p.m.
- LMC -