Bobcats hold off Tornado, 2-1

Box score

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The second-seeded Lees-McRae College men's soccer team scored twice in the final five minutes of the first half, and held on for a 2-1 win over seventh-seeded King College in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament on Tuesday night on Tate Field.

Lees-McRae (13-4-1) outshot King (5-10-2) by a 16-13 margin, including a 7-4 advantage in the first half, while holding a 7-4 edge in corner kicks. With the win, the Bobcats advance to the semifinal round for the fifth straight season.

Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) and Ryan Gillespie (Holly Springs, N.C.) each tallied a goal for the Bobcats, while TC Stephens (Fuquay-Varina, N.C.) and James Smith (Eastbourne, England) both recorded an assist. Sophomore goalkeeper Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) made five saves between the pipes for Lees-McRae.

Sam Nicol scored the lone goal for King, as Colby Childress was credited with an assist and Patrick Milfeld made seven saves between the pipes.

The match remained scoreless until midway through the 42nd minute, when Alford nodded home a lovely ball from Stephens for his sixth goal of the season and a 1-0 Bobcat advantage. Gillespie doubled the advantage to 2-0 just before the interval, when his header off a cross from Smith deflected off a defender and past the keeper at the 44:49 mark, sending the Bobcats into halftime with a two-goal lead.

King cut the margin in half late in the 58th minute, when Childress sent a cross into the area from just short of the end line, finding Nicol for the finish into the bottom corner from 10 yards distance. King's Tom Winspear nearly leveled proceedings in the 84th minute, putting his head to a perfect ball from Erik Douglas that sailed just wide of the near post.

Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Friday when the second-seeded Bobcats host sixth-seeded Erskine College in the semifinal round at 7 p.m. on Tate Field. The Flying Fleet won the regular season matchup between the sides by a 3-1 score line in Banner Elk on Oct. 19.

- LMC -