Photo courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College men's soccer team hosts a pair of key Conference Carolinas matches this week, battling No. 24 Limestone on Wednesday (Sept. 26) at 5 p.m. before taking on Mount Olive on Saturday (Sept. 29) at 4 p.m. Video and live stats will be available at www.lmcbobcats.com.
About the Bobcats - Lees-McRae (3-3-1, 1-1-1 Conference Carolinas) comes into the week in seventh place in Conference Carolinas with four points. LMC leads the conference in goals and assists with 17 each, while also leading the league in points with 51. Pol Vassart's seven goals lead the team and the conference, while his four assists are tied for the conference lead and his 18 points are also the highest total in the league. Agustin Ortiz's three goals are tied for fifth in the league, while six other Bobcats have scored at least one goal on the season. Harvey McMorrow is second on the team and tied for second in the conference in assists, while Connor Hahn and Philip Oldin are third on the team and tied for fifth in the league in assists with two each. Six other Bobcats have contributed one assist each on the season. Vassart is one of three players in Conference Carolinas with double-digit points, leading the league with 18 points. Ortiz is also second on the team and tied for fifth in the league in points with seven, while 10 other Bobcats have recorded points on the season. Anton Sundstrom has played every minute in net for LMC, logging a 2.44 goals against average (GAA) (ninth), 23 total saves (T-seventh) and a .605 save percentage.
Last Time Out - The Bobcats picked up a thrilling 4-3 win over Tusculum back on Sept. 19 before earning their first Conference Carolinas win at Erskine 3-1 on Saturday (Sept. 22). The Bobcats pounced on Tusculum less than 30 seconds in, when a flurry of shots bombarded Pioneers keeper Sam Gilbert. A ball in from the far side found Fredrik Haave on the doorstep who was stopped by Gilbert, before Vassart gave it a go but also was denied. It was finally Ortiz that poked it through just 24 seconds in for his third of the season to give the home team the lead. The visitors would knot the match at one-all in the ninth minute when ball movement created an odd-man rush. A ball was played through from Henrique Devens to Ayuk Tambe and then to Dario Ljubic who scored his second of the season. Tusculum would take a 2-1 lead on Sander Johansen's second goal of the season from Edgar Cervantes in the 25th minute, before LMC would respond just 1:03 later to tie the match at two. Tusculum was attempting to clear the ball out of their end, but a failed attempt found the foot of Haave again. The freshman blasted his first career marker through a crowd to bring the contest to even yet again. The two teams went to the break tied at two. Tusculum would get the big break they needed in the 61st minute when Tambe controlled a bouncing ball that was cleared out of Tusculum's end, before beating his defender to one side and chipping it over Sundstrom to put the Pioneers up 3-2. As the match ticked down into the final five minutes, the Bobcats mounted what would be one final push for an equalizer. In the 88th minute, after a Tusculum red card had the Bobcats up a man, Oldin sent a ball into the box off a near-side set piece. It was Vassart getting his head on it and deflecting it past Gilbert with just over two minutes to play in regulation. Now tied at three, the teams stared extra time in the face. The clock ticked down into the final minute, and then the final 15 seconds. LMC would have a throw in on the near sideline outside the box. Hahn lofted a high-arcing ball into the box that was again deflected in by Vassart for his sixth of the season. With four seconds left, LMC stormed the field in celebration, leaving those in visiting black and orange in utter disbelief. Tusculum totaled 12 shots to LMC's 11, with LMC winning the battle in shots on goal nine to four. All of Vassart's team leading five shots were on target, while Haave and Ortiz each registered two shots on the night. Oldin and McMorrow each tallied one shot in the contest. In addition, Tusculum totaled three corner kicks to LMC's one on the night. Sundstrom recorded one save in the win.
Against Erskine, the two teams went back and forth in the first half, before LMC would draw first blood in the 23rd minute. Vassart would set up Hahn for his first of the season to get the Bobcats on the board. LMC would double its lead in the 34th minute when Vassart would net his seventh of the season from McMorrow. LMC would take the 2-0 lead to the half. The Bobcats would pad their lead in the second half with McMorrow's first goal of the season being set up by Johan Hedberg in the 52nd minute. Leading 3-0, the Bobcats would surrender a late goal in the 90th minute when Alex Mushata scored from Kelsey Long to get the Flying Fleet on the board. LMC would run out the final seconds for the win. The Bobcats held a 14-9 advantage in shots, and also an 8-4 advantage in shots on goal. Ortiz and Vassart each tallied three shots in the win, with two of them finding frame for both men. Haave and McMorrow each registered two shots with one on goal in the win, while Kelvin Woods and Hahn each recorded one shot in the win. LMC also totaled two corner kicks to Erskine's four in the contest. Sundstrom made three saves in the win.
About the Opponents - Limestone comes into the week ranked No. 24 in the nation and also ranked fourth in the Southeast region with a 5-1-0 record and a 2-1-0 mark in Conference Carolinas. The Saints are fourth in the conference in scoring with 10 goals, tied for second in the conference in assists with eight and tied for third with 28 points. Jamie Smith and Luca Thuyl share the team lead in goals with two each, while six other Saints have scored goals on the season. Ruiari Croskery and Adrian Lollar share the team lead in assists with two each, while four others have contributed one assist each. Smith and Thuyl have a team-high five points each, while seven other Saints have recorded at least one point on the season. Mirko Ronchi has logged every minute in net for Limestone, owning a 0.60 GAA (T-second), 32 total saves (fourth) and the sixth-best save percentage in the conference at .765.
Mount Olive enters the week taking on North Greenville on Wednesday (Sept. 26) before taking on Lees-McRae. The Trojans begin the week with a 3-1-1 overall record and a 1-0-0 mark in Conference Carolinas. The Trojans are tied for seventh in the league with six goals, tied for sixth with five assists and tied for seventh with 17 points. Alfie Pope leads the team with three goals which is tied for fifth in the league, while three other Trojans have scored goals on the season. Five different Trojans have each contributed one assist each on the season. Pope's seven points also lead the team, while six others have contributed at least one point on the season. Austin Porter is the mainstay in goal for Mount Olive, leading the conference in GAA (0.55), totaling 32 saves (fourth) and leading the conference with a .914 save percentage.
Series History vs. Opponents - This will be the 31st all-time meeting between LMC and Limestone, with LMC leading the all-time series 21-7 with two ties also included. Limestone won last year's affair 2-1.
This will be the 29th all-time meeting between LMC and Mount Olive, with LMC leading the all-time series 20-6 also including two ties. Mount Olive won last year's match in the Conference Carolinas tournament semifinal 3-1.