MARS HILL, N.C. --- The Mars Hill College men's soccer team scored midway through the 72nd minute, and held Lees-McRae College off the score sheet en route to a hard-fought 1-0 victory in non-conference play on Wednesday night.
Mars Hill (4-1) outshot Lees-McRae (1-4) by a 24-17 margin in the match, including a 13-7 advantage in the second half, while edging the Bobcats in corner kick attempts, 6-4. James Smith (Eastbourne, England) paced the Bobcats with six attempts at goal, including three on frame, as James Galvani (High Wycombe, England) launched four shots and Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) posted a season-high eight saves.
Nathaniel Enos tallied the lone goal on the night for Mars Hill, as Shadi Harb added an assist and Zac Scott made nine saves to keep a clean sheet for the Lions.
The two sides played to a scoreless draw through the first 45 minutes, with both teams having several chances to break the deadlock in the opening half. Lees-McRae nearly snatched the early breakthrough in the eighth minute, when Galvani forced a skillful save from Scott to preserve the deadlock.
After Scott denied a glorious effort from Smith midway through the 18th minute, the Lions keeper was called upon again in the 33rd to stop a header from Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) and send the match into the interval deadlocked at 0-0.
Rusling continued his strong early-season play in the second half, making several world-class saves to preserve the deadlock and deny the Lions the breakthrough. After Scott answered the call with a trio of stops within a four-minute span, Enos pounced on a rebound from a Harb attempt and slotted the finish into the back of the net to give the Lions the breakthrough and a 1-0 advantage midway through the 72nd minute.
Mars Hill would hold on from there, denying several more equalizing attempts from the Bobcats to seal the victory in a hard-fought, physical match that featured 25 fouls and five cautions.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday when the Bobcats travel to Tigerville, S.C. to take on North Greenville University to open their Conference Carolinas slate at 3 p.m.
- LMC -