Second-Half Rally Not Enough as Sixth-Seeded Bobcats Edge No. Three Seed AndersonNovember 9, 2011
ANDERSON, S.C. – Lees-McRae freshman James Smith knocked home the game-winning goal with just 39 seconds remaining in overtime, as No. 6 seed Lees-McRae slipped past third-seeded Anderson, 3-2, in opening round action of the 2011 NCAA Men’s Soccer Southeast Region Wednesday afternoon at Trojan Stadium.
Trailing by a pair of goals at the half, Anderson (17-4) rallied with two second-half scores in an 11-minute span to send the contest into extra time. The overtime frame was nothing new to the two squads, as AU and Lee-McRae have squared off seven times in the past five seasons, with five of those contests being decided in overtime.
Lees-McRae (15-5-1) avenged a regular-season setback at the hands of the Trojans and snapped AU’s home win streak at 16. The Bobcats advance to meet second-seeded Flagler Friday afternoon at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. Kick-off versus the Saints is slated for 4:30 at the Coker Soccer Field.
Both teams entered the opening round as tournament tested, with the Bobcats making their fifth consecutive appearance, while Anderson made its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
The Trojans threatened to get on the scoreboard first, as senior Scott Clapperton fired a low rocket to his right in the 10th minute of action, but Lees-McRae keeper Thomas Rusling made a diving stop to his left for the save.
Lees-McRae struck first however, as sophomore forward James Galvani put the Bobcats on the scoreboard at the 14:57 mark and LMC nearly went ahead by two scores in the 23rd minute, but Galvani’s shot bounced high off the crossbar.
The Trojans suffered misfortune in the 26th minute, as two-time SAC Player of the Year, Lasse Sohrweide, went down with an injury and did not return.
The Bobcats capitalized on good fortune in the 32nd minute when freshman Ryan Gillespie pounced on a free kick that ricocheted off a defender and found the back of the net from 20 yards away, putting LMC ahead, 2-0, with the score remaining the same through the remainder of the half.
The Trojans’ offense got untracked early in the second half, as senior defender Kevin Butler headed in his first goal of the season just inside the right post off a corner kick from junior Ben Jones.
As the Trojans gained momentum, Jones collected a cross into the box from teammate Ryan Messick and recorded the equalizer with a header into the left side of the net in the 58th minute.
Anderson appeared to have notched the go-ahead goal at the 62:34 mark, but the celebration was premature as the Trojans were whistled for offsides, negating the score.
The two teams battled to a stalemate over the remaining 28 minutes and through nearly the full overtime before Smith recorded the game-winner.
The Trojans outshot Lees-McRae, 16-8, on the afternoon and held a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks, but the Bobcats put three shots on-goal with all three finding the net. AU recorded seven attempts on-goal, with Rusling notching five saves in the effort.