Kerrigan double lifts Bobcats to outright conference title

BANNER ELK, N.C. --- Junior Kaitlyn Kerrigan (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.) recorded her first career brace to lead the Lees-McRae College women's soccer team to a thrilling 2-1 extra time victory over Mount Olive College on Saturday afternoon, pacing the Bobcats to their second consecutive Conference Carolinas regular season title on Senior Day.

With the win, Lees-McRae (11-5-1, 10-1 CC) claims the program's second straight outright league title, while also securing the top overall seed in next week's Conference Carolinas Tournament. The Bobcats outshot Mount Olive (7-9-1, 6-5 CC) by a 24-3 margin in the match, including a 13-1 advantage in the second half.

Prior to kickoff, Lees-McRae honored its 2012 senior class, paying tribute to the accomplishments and contributions made by seniors Mary Biehner (Wilmington, N.C.), Mary Bowers (Alexandria, Va.), Jessica Cardenas (Bakersfield, Calif.), Mary Dorn (Shallotte, N.C.), Lauren Griffin (Kernersville, N.C.), and Emily Jones (Leonardtown, Md.) in a pre-match ceremony.

Kerrigan paced the Bobcats with a career-high two goals on a match-best seven shots, tallying her first collegiate brace to account for all of Lees-McRae's scoring on the afternoon. Biehner got the start between the pipes for the Bobcats before being subbed off for junior Alicia Pierson (Brooksville, Fla.), who was called upon to make one save in the match.

Carolin Edenhofner made seven saves for the Trojans while playing the full 93 minutes, as Maddy Robak found the frame with both of her team-high two shots, one of which stroked the back netting. Lauren Power also added an assist for Mount Olive.

The Bobcats got off to a flying start in the sixth minute, taking an early 1-0 lead when Kerrigan collected the clearing attempt off her own corner and delivered a stunning finish inside the far post from 25 yards distance.

Dorn nearly doubled the advantage to 2-0 in the 13th minute, flicking a header on frame that was parried wide by Edenhofner. The Trojans would level against the run of play in the 31st minute, when Robak nodded a corner from Power inside the far post to pull Mount Olive back on terms at 1-1.

The score remained knotted at 1-1 through the interval, with Lees-McRae nearly netting the breakthrough in the 62nd minute when LeeAnn Sullivan (Greensboro, N.C.) forced a fantastic save by Edenhofner with a driven strike from distance.

Neither side would find the winner before time, sending the match into extra time. Lees-McRae notched the lone scoring chance of extra time in the 93rd minute, when the Bobcats were awarded a penalty kick after freshman Sarah Mahar (Jacksonville, Fla.) was pulled down after a tremendous run into the area. Kerrigan delivered from the spot, beating the keeper low and to the right for the extra time winner and the outright conference title.

Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Monday, October 29 when the top-seeded Bobcats host eighth-seeded King College in the quarterfinal round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament at 4 p.m. on Tate Field.

- LMC -