BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team rallied from a one-goal deficit late in the second half, and won the penalty kick shootout, 5-4, to advance to the final of the Conference Carolinas Tournament for the first time since 2000.
Lees-McRae (13-4-2) outshot Limestone (13-5-1) by a 23-4 margin, including a 16-2 advantage in the second half. Mary Dorn (Shallotte, N.C.) scored perhaps her most clutch goal of her career, tallying her fourth goal of the season late in the second half. Vanessa Jarrett tallied Limestone's goal early in the second period, as Dominique Evans notched an assist.
Kaitlyn Briggs (Oviedo, Fla.) recorded one save in 110 minutes of work for Lees-McRae, while Kristin Alderin-Fleagle made six stops for the Saints. Briggs also made a key stop in the shootout to help the Bobcats advance to the final.
The match remained scoreless until the opening seconds of the 51st minute, when Jarrett flicked a cross from Evans into the bottom corner to give Limestone an early 1-0 lead. Lees-McRae turned up the pressure shortly thereafter, outshooting the Saints by a 15-1 margin over the final 40 minutes of regulation.
Dorn pulled the Bobcats back on terms in the 79th minute, settling a free ball 25 yards from goal and sending a brilliant strike into the bottom corner to knot the score at 1-1, and send the match into extra time.
Meagan Thornton (Millville, N.J.) nearly grabbed the winner midway through the first extra time period, making a brilliant 60-yard run from her own half and into the box, before Kristin Alderin-Fleagle made a clutch save to keep the match level. Emily Jones (Leonardtown, Md.) took the lone attempt at goal in the second extra time period, forcing a save from Kristin Alderin-Fleagle in the 103rd minute.
Briggs came up big in the penalty shootout, stopping Limestone's first attempt before the Bobcats failed to convert their initial try. Each team converted its next four tries to send the penalty kick shootout into sudden death, when Vickie Rich (Arlington Heights, Ill.) converted her attempt after a Limestone miss to send the Bobcats into the conference tournament final.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday when the top-seeded Bobcats host third-seeded Belmont Abbey College in the Conference Carolinas Tournament final at 1 p.m. on Tate Field. The Bobcats won the teams' regular season meeting by a 1-0 score line in Banner Elk.
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