BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The fourth-seeded Lees-McRae College women's soccer team opens its postseason run Monday night in the Conference Carolinas Tournament, hosting fifth-seeded Mount Olive College at 7 p.m. to begin its quest for its first tournament title since 2000.
Lees-McRae (13-5) has enjoyed a tremendous season under first-year head coach Cally Morrill, finishing among the top four teams in the conference for the first time since 2003. Mount Olive (10-7-1) closed out the regular with four straight wins in league play to earn the fifth seed in this week's tournament. The Lady Bobcats edged the Trojans 2-1 in their regular season meeting, thanks to a penalty kick by 2009 Daktronics All-American Vickie Rich (Arlington Heights, Ill.) in the 86th minute.
Monday's matchup features two of the top freshmen in the league, and perhaps the nation, as LMC's Mary Beth Sullivan (Greensboro, N.C.) and Mount Olive's Sarah Porter (Havelock, N.C.) enter the conference tournament in stiff competition for the league scoring title. Porter has been on a goal-scoring surge of late, tallying 13 goals in her last five matches to vault into the conference lead with 19 scores on the season.
Sullivan has been an integral part of the Lady Bobcats' success this season, leading the team with 12 goals and 33 points to enter tonight's matchup second in the conference in each category. The freshman forward has also tallied nine assists on the season, which rank seconds on the team in that category behind fellow rookie Kaitlyn Kerrigan's (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) total of 11 helpers.
Also putting together a noteworthy season for Lees-McRae is junior midfielder Brooke Santerre (Port Republic, Md.), who ranks third on the team with eight goals, seven assists, and 23 points. Senior goalkeeper Brittany Bolton (Roanoke, Va.) is in the midst of a stellar season as well, entering tonight's matchup third in the conference with five shutouts thus far.
Mount Olive's Lindsay Stanley (Eastover, N.C.) has come on strong in the last few matches as well, entering the conference tournament tied with Sullivan for second in the conference with 33 points. The junior forward is also tops in the league in assists, having dished out 13 helpers thus far to go along with 10 goals. Midfielders Cara Paxson (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Becky Sanzsole (Kitchener, Ontario) have also performed well for the Trojans, tallying 20 and 13 points, respectively, through the end of the regular season.
Tonight's matchup promises to be an offensive battle, with four of the conference's top players this season squaring off to decide who will advance to Thursday's semifinal round. The winner will likely face regular season champion and top-seeded Belmont Abbey, who has been ranked among the nation's top 25 teams for much of the campaign.
The Lees-McRae Sports Information office will provide a live statistics feed, as well as a streaming webcast of the match, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Both can be accessed on www.lmcbobcats.com, the official web site of Lees-McRae College Athletics. Simply log on and click on the "Live Events" link at the top of the page.
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