BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team, fresh off capturing the program's first Conference Carolinas regular season championship since 2000, is the top seed in this week's Conference Carolinas Women's Soccer Tournament and will host eighth-seeded Erskine College on Monday evening.
Lees-McRae (12-4-1, 11-1 CC) nearly posted an unblemished record in conference play this season, emerging victorious from its first 11 matches in league action to clinch the top seed in the conference tournament, as well as the Western Division title. The Bobcats rolled through conference play in dominating fashion, outscoring their opponents by a 51-6 margin while keeping nine clean sheets in the span of 12 matches.
The Bobcat attack is led by a trio of lethal finishers, as freshman Meagan Thornton (Millville, N.J.), sophomore MaryBeth Sullivan (Greensboro N.C.), and senior Vickie Rich (Arlington Heights, Ill.), who have combined for 28 goals, 15 assists, and 10 of the Bobcats' 11 match-winners in conference play this season. Lees-McRae enters the conference tournament ranked among the national leaders in several statistical categories, including fourth in scoring offense (3.47) and seventh in shutout percentage (0.733).
Senior Brooke Santerre (Port Republic, Md.), junior Emily Jones (Leonardtown, Md.), and sophomore Kaitlyn Kerrigan (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) have been a tremendous part of the Bobcats' success in the midfield this season, combining for eight goals, 15 assists, and one match-winner in conference play this fall as Rich and Kerrigan wrapped up the regular season tied for the league lead with eight assists.
Senior Mary Dorn (Shallotte, N.C.) and the Bobcat backline have stifled opposing attacks throughout the season, keeping nine clean sheets in conference play while allowing a total of six goals in 12 matches against league opponents. Freshman goalkeeper Kaitlyn Briggs (Oviedo, Fla.) has enjoyed a tremendous rookie season with the Bobcats, posting a 10-1 record in league play to go along with six clean sheets and a 0.55 goals against average.
The Bobcats appear primed for a run at the conference tournament title in search of the program's first ticket to the NCAA Tournament, earning the right of playing on their home pitch throughout the league's postseason competition.
Erskine (6-10, 5-7 CC) battled its way into the conference tournament as the eighth and final seed, posting a pair of pivotal one-goal victories over fourth-seeded Limestone College and Barton College down the stretch. Junior Kimrey Angotti-Smith leads the Flying Fleet attack with seven points this season, scoring a team-high three goals and adding an assist.
Fellow junior Molly Harpe and sophomore Victoria Bruce have each tallied six points thus far, as Harpe leads the team with four assists while Bruce is tied with Angotti-Smith for the squad-lead with three goals. Junior forward Erin Gray has put together a solid season for the Fleet, recording one goal and three assists as Casey Craft has chipped in a pair of helpers.
Freshman goalkeeper Katie Lyle has performed well in her rookie season with the Fleet, posting a 5-5 record in league play to go along with three clean sheets and a .789 save percentage. The Duluth, Ga. native allowed one goal or less on seven occasions in conference play this season, holding St. Andrews, Converse, Barton, and Belmont Abbey off the scoreboard this fall.
Monday's quarterfinal matchup will mark the second meeting between the Bobcats and Flying Fleet this season, as Lees-McRae recorded a 4-0 win over Erskine on October 19th to celebrate its senior day by clinching a share of the conference regular season title. The Bobcats and Fleet will kick off at 7 p.m. on Tate Field.
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