BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College men's soccer team looks for their first win this week, hosting Mars Hill Wednesday night (Sept. 5) and opening Conference Carolinas play at Southern Wesleyan (SWU) on Saturday (Sept. 8). Video and live stats will be available for both matches at www.lmcbobcats.com
About the Bobcats - The Bobcats come into the week in search of their first win of the season. Johannes Oeksnevad has the lone goal for LMC on the season and is tied for second in the conference with that goal. Pol Vassart's assist on that goal is also tied at the top of the conference. Anton Sundstrom's 12 saves through 194:08 are second in the league. Sundstrom's .706 save percentage is also eighth in Conference Carolinas.
Last Time Out - The Bobcats fell in their season opener back on Thursday (Aug. 30) at Anderson (S.C.) by a score of 3-0. The Trojans struck quickly to open the game, when Jhon Vaca netted his first of the season unassisted to put Anderson up 1-0. The marker would serve as the game-winner, as the Trojans led 1-0 at the half. Gabriel Homem scored from Cameron Emerson less than three minutes into the second half to double the Trojans' lead, before Vinny Viega fired a one-touch pass from Homem home in the 65th minute to put the match at its final score. LMC tallied 15 shots in the contest, putting three on goal. Vassart, Francisco Silvestre and Oeksnevad each put shots on frame for the Bobcats. Sundstrom made seven saves in the contest.
The men then fell to No. 4 in the Southeast Region Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday (Sept. 1) 2-1 in double-overtime. The two teams played a tight yet scoreless first half, with L-R holding a slim 3-2 edge in shots at the break. The Bears would score the first goal in the 61st minute on a scramble in front of the net off a rebound to silence the home crowd. In tight in the LMC box, Victor Cascon rifled a shot right at Bobcats keeper Sundstrom. Sundstrom made the reactionary save, but the ball deflected right to Cameron Saul who was on the doorstep to stash it home. Lees-McRae would push back a little later on, creating chances with ball movement on the rush. In the 78th minute, Vassart created a rush through the middle and was able to draw defenders. Hustling hard straight up the gut, Vassart found Oeksnevad on the right wing, and the sophomore buried a low shot to the right corner for his first of the year to knot the match at one. The two teams played 10 minutes of extra time, in which LMC out-shot L-R 5-1, but the teams would go to a second extra session still tied. Just over four minutes into the second overtime, a long ball was sent downfield spotted by Goncalo Garcia. Garcia was able to corral the high-bouncing ball and beat Sundstrom for the winner to get L-R its first win of the season. Lees-McRae fired 11 shots in the contest, putting seven on frame. Vassart and Oeksnevad each put two shots on net for the Bobcats, while three others each put one shot on frame. Sundstrom made five saves in the loss.
About the Opponents - Mars Hill comes into the match at 2-0 and ranked 10th in the Southeast region according to United Soccer Coaches with a 2-1 2OT win over Shorter back on Thursday (Aug. 30) and a 2-1 win over Emmanuel on Sunday (Sept. 2). Sebastian Bertilsson, Jordan Lennon, Joakim Lien and Sam Roe have each scored one goal on the year for Mars Hill. Bertilsson, Jeppe Christiansen and Lien have ach tallied assists through two games. The quartet of goal scorers are tied for fifth in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC), while the trio of Lions with an assist are all tied for the conference lead. Brian Salzman has played all 193:41 in net for the Lions, owning the sixth best goals against average (GAA) in the SAC at 0.93.Salzman's nine saves are also third in the league.
Southern Wesleyan comes into the match 0-2, having lost 2-1 to Auburn Montgomery on Aug. 30 and 5-0 to Young Harris on Sept. 1. Grant Kiker has the lone goal on the season for the Warriors. Miguel Uribe has played all 180:00 in net for SWU, allowing seven goals and making 10 saves. His saves total is right behind that of LMC's Sundstrom in the conference.
Series History vs. Opponents - This will be the 17th all-time meeting between LMC and Mars Hill. Lees-McRae leads the all-time series 11-4, and there has also been one tie in the series. The two teams last played in 2016.
This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Lees-McRae and Southern Wesleyan, with LMC leading the all-time series 3-1. Southern Wesleyan won last year's matchup 2-0 in Banner Elk.