Erskine holds off Bobcats, 3-1

Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Erskine College men's soccer team scored twice in the first half and held off a furious rally down the stretch en route to a 3-1 victory over Lees-McRae College on Wednesday night in Conference Carolinas play, snapping the Bobcats' six-match winning streak.

Lees-McRae 10-4-1, 7-2 CC) honored its 2011 senior class prior to kickoff, recognizing Luke Staats (Almere, Netherlands), Luke Duffy (Wakefield, England), Tyler Gibson (Gastonia, N.C.), David Palmer (South Shields, England), and student assistant coach Adam Burden for their contributions to the Bobcat men's soccer program.

The Bobcats outshot Erskine (7-6-1, 5-4 CC) by a 15-10 margin, including a 12-3 advantage in the second half. Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) scored his fourth goal of the season for the Bobcats, while James Smith (Eastbourne, England) and Nick Welsh (Boone, N.C.) each tallied an assist. Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) made five saves throughout the opening 45 minutes, as Gibson stopped one attempt at goal in the second half.

Luke Boyce, Peter Savarese, and Dylan Goodale each found the back of the net for Erskine, as Andrew Settlemire added an assist. Roberto De La Silva played the full 90 minutes between the pipes for the Flying Fleet, allowing one goal and making eight saves.

Erskine broke the deadlock with a pair of quick goals within a four-minute span in the first half, taking a 1-0 lead on Savarese's strike at the 27:18 mark before Boyce finished a cross from Settlemire midway through the 32nd minute to send the Fleet into the interval with a 2-0 advantage.

The Bobcats controlled the run of play for much of the second half, nearly denying the shutout bid on several occasions until accomplishing their objective in the 85th minute. After Smith knifed in from the flank and fed Welsh just shy of the end line, the freshman forward delivered a fantastic cross to Alford at the top of the six-yard box, putting his fellow rookie in perfect position to drive home the finish and cut the margin to 2-1.

Erskine responded scant seconds later, driving straight down the pitch following the restart and equaling the final margin of 3-1 on Goodale's strike off a loose ball in the area. The Bobcats made a late push in the 89th minute, but De La Silva answered the challenge with a well-positioned save on a glorious chance by Scott Hudgins (Fort Myers, Fla.).

Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday, travelling to Hartsville, S.C. for a pivotal conference clash with league-leading and No. 7 Coker College at 7 p.m.

- LMC -