Briggs, Bobcats play to 1-1 draw with Bearcats

HICKORY, N.C. --- Molly Ames (Greensboro, N.C.) tallied her first collegiate goal and Kaitlyn Briggs (Oviedo, Fla.) made seven saves to lead the Lees-McRae College women's soccer team to a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Lander University on Friday evening at the Lenoir-Rhyne Classic.

Lander (0-0-1) outshot Lees-McRae (0-0-1) by a 21-15 margin, including a 10-7 advantage in the second half, as the Bearcats took three corners to the Bobcats' one. The Bobcats created numerous scoring chances in the opening 15 minutes, controlling the run of play for much of the first half as the teams finished the period level in shots at 6-6. Both sides

Meagan Thornton (Millville, N.J.) paced the Bobcats with three shots, while Kaitlyn Kerrigan (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.), MaryBeth Sullivan (Greensboro, N.C.), and Sarah Mahar (Jacksonville, Fla.) each made two attempts at goal. Briggs tallied seven saves for Lees-McRae in the contest, as Ames tallied her first career goal late in the second half.

Jamie Shaw led the way for Lander with five shots, as Casey Black scored her first goal of the season off an assist from Nina Morales. Noel McDaniel tallied four shots, while Kimberly Kesler, Kendall Couch, and Morales each made three attempts at goal. Kelsey Blair posted nine saves in a superb effort between the pipes for the Bearcats.

Lees-McRae nearly got off to a flying start in the opening 30 minutes, launching a trio of shots toward frame and forcing the Bearcat keeper to make a pair of sensational saves to preserve the deadlock. The Bobcats continued to press the attack throughout the remainder of the half, nearly tallying the breakthrough in the 44th minute when Emily Jones' (Leonardtown, Md.) effort was parried away by Blair.

The match remained deadlocked at 0-0 until the early moments of the 75th minute, when Ames launched a shot from 30 yards distance that found the back of the net to give the Bobcats a 1-0 advantage. Lander answered quickly 22 seconds later, when Black netted the equalizer off a cross from Morales to level the score at 1-1.

Both keepers were called upon to make several big saves down the stretch, keeping their sides level to close out regulation and send the match into extra time. Neither side would put a shot on frame until the 102nd minute, when Briggs made the first of two crucial saves to keep the score knotted at 1-1 for the Bobcats. Blair made several key stops of her own in the second extra time period, maintaining the deadlock as the Bobcats and Bearcats ended the match level at 1-1.

"I'm extremely proud of the girls' effort today," said Bobcat head coach Nick Whiting. "They battled for 110 minutes and did some things really well. I give full credit to Lander, which is a quality team that is going to be ranked high in the region this year. This is definitely a performance we can build on, and I am looking forward to Sunday [against Georgia College & State]."

Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Sunday when the Bobcats take on Georgia College & State University in Hickory, N.C. to conclude the Lenoir-Rhyne Classic at 2 p.m.

- LMC -