Banner Elk, NC--The Lees-McRae Bobcats men's soccer team hosted Clayton State Thursday evening at Tate Field, keeping an unbeaten slate in 2007 with a 2-2 tie against the 15th ranked Lakers. The Bobcats, ranked 19th in the country, record now stands at 4-0-1.
Conference Carolinas leading scorer Berin Boracic (Orlando, FL) got the Bobcats on the board first with his seventh of the season in the 15th minute. Boracic dribbled through a pair of Lakers defenders deep inside the 18 yard box with some fancy footwork, drawing keeper Billy Hale to the right of the goal. The reigning Conference Player of the Week made no mistake in burying a shot to the far left of the net sending the Bobcats bench and home crowd into a frenzy.
Thirteen minutes later, the Lakers Jamal Geathers was the one working inside the box, finding an open shot in the 28th minute to tie the game at one. Each team shared possession of the ball for the remainder of the half, as the nationally ranked and regional rivals continued to escalate the physical play. After 45 minutes, three yellows had been assessed, two to the Bobcats and one to the Lakers, while the score remained knotted at one.
Second half play resumed as if neither team had taken a rest. From the opening kickoff, the game in early September had as much intensity as playoff game in late October. With each team now assessed two yellow cards each, the Bobcats Matt Lacey (Norwich, England) was given the game's first red in the 56th minute, putting the Bobcats down a man for the remainder of the game. Diego Cordeiro (Orlando, FL) snapped the deadlock for the home team, capitalizing on a penalty kick in the 70th minute after Dale Parker (Worksop, England) had been taken down inside the box. With twenty minutes to play, the Bobcats appeared on their way to an upset win over the Lakers, however the resilient Clayton State squad continued to pressure with the man advantage burying the equalizer in the 87th minute. Hailab Habtom managed to slip in front of the net, taking a pass from Geathers and beating Bobcats keeper Sean Paradise (North Point, FL) to force overtime.
A pair of ten minute overtime periods solved nothing, as the number two (Lakers) and three (Bobcats) ranked teams in the southeast region continued to battle back and forth. A sixth yellow card was assessed to Nate Wall (Des Moines, IA) in the 94th minute, giving each team three yellows over the course of the game and bringing the final tally to seven, (one red).
"We showed much character tonight, continuing to battle a man down against a strong Clayton State team," commented Head Coach Chris Whalley. "They have been consistently ranked nationally the past couple seasons and for us to come out with this result after the red, we're very proud of the boys. The commitment and work ethic is there, we're looking forward to our upcoming conference match ups."
Whalley now stands 2-0-1 against Clayton State in his three year tenure at the helm of the Bobcats, upsetting the then eighth ranked Lakers 3-2 on the road last season. In '05, the Bobcats shutout the Lakers with a hard fought 1-0 win.
The Bobcats will open their Conference Carolinas schedule
Saturday afternoon, hosting Erskine College. The women will play
at 5:00pm at Tate Field while the men will kick off in the night
cap at 7:30pm.
PICTURED TOP LEFT: Bobcats Senior Captain Diego Cordeiro