Photo Courtesy of Sammy Croft
BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team will open its 2017 regular season Thursday afternoon with a non-conference match at Newberry College. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. from Newberry, S.C.
About the Bobcats – Lees-McRae finished its 2016 campaign with a record of 7-12-0 overall and 6-5-0 in Conference Carolinas contests. Following the regular season, the Bobcats earned their first trip to the semifinal round of the conference tournament since 2014. As for the 2017 edition of Lees-McRae, the team will return 15 players from a season ago including All-Conference Carolinas Second Team honoree Alexis Feely. In addition to the 15 returners, the team will also have 12 newcomers to the squad this fall.
About the Wolves – Newberry posted a record of 7-11-1 overall and notched a mark of 4-6-1 in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) last season. The Wolves played their best soccer on their own pitch as they posted a 5-2-0 in home matches in 2016. Newberry, which was picked to finish eighth in the SAC Preseason Poll, figures to be led by Alyssa Ortega. Ortega started 19 matches in 2016 and led the team in both points (31) and goals (15) last season.
Record Watch – Lees-McRae's junior goalkeeper Alexis Feely has already etched her name into the program's record book despite having two years of eligibility remaining, The Wake Forest, N.C. native already ranks in the top 10 in program history in saves (5th - 218), save percentage (9th - .801) and shutouts (8th – 11).
Preseason Poll – The Bobcats were picked to finish third in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Poll earlier this month. The third place nod was the highest for the team in the preseason since 2014 when it was picked to finish third also. In addition to the team ranking, Feely along with Katie Jo Daniel and Riley Neese were recognized as players to watch for the Bobcats in 2017.
Series History/Season Openers – Despite both teams playing in the southeast region, Thursday's match will be the first ever meeting between the Wolves and Bobcats. Additionally, Lees-McRae has posted a record of 1-8-1 in season-opening matches since 2007. Lees-McRae's lone victory in a season-opening tilt came at the beginning of the 2008 season where it defeated North Greenville, 2-1.