BANNER ELK, NC--Regular Season Champion Lees-McRae College Bobcats opened the Conference Carolinas Soccer Tournament with a 4-0 quarterfinal win over Erskine College Tuesday evening at Tate Field. The Bobcats, the top seed in the tournament after finishing conference play with a 9-1 record, will move on to face fifth seeded Belmont Abbey in semifinal action.
Conference Carolinas scoring leader Lee Squires (Sheffield, England) opened the scoring for the Bobcats in the eighth minute, with junior Matt Lacey (Norwich, England) drawing the assist. After a scramble in front following freshman Tom Brailsford's (Rotherham, England) corner kick, Sam Sharples (London, England) found Lacey at the top of the 18 yard box. With a quick move outside, Lacey beat his defender wide and managed to find Squires open in front for his 19th of the season. Fifteen minutes later, Squires would again find himself open in front of the goal, this time corralling a rebound from Berin Boracic' (Orlando, FL) free kick to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead in the 23rd minute. The Bobcats, ranked number two for the fourth consecutive week in the NSCAA/adidas National Poll increased their lead to three just before halftime when reigning Conference Carolinas Player of the Week Kyle McGimsey (Plant City, FL) found the back of the net in the 43rd minute. Brailsford once again sent the ball into play with a corner kick, allowing McGimsey to capitalize for his eighth of the season.
In the second, the Bobcats would utilize much of their depth continuing to apply pressure while playing sound defense to earn their third consecutive shutout, and tenth of the season. Freshman Anthony Mantegani (Hendersonville, TN) would add an insurance goal for the Bobcats in the 64th minute, his second of the season to close the scoring.
"We set some team goals at the beginning of the season, winning the regular season was one of them while making the Conference semi-finals was another," commented third year Head Coach Chris Whalley. "We've achieved both of them, however we need to approach things day by day and continue to do what we have been all season in order to be successful."
"We have a quality program here and the lads have worked hard all year," continued Whalley. "If we can continue working hard game in and game out we will have the opportunity to do something special."
Sean Paradise (North Point, FL) registered two saves in the Bobcats goal combining with Tom Courtney (Newcastle, England) for their second shared shutout of the season. Jimmy Turner started in the Erskine goal, registering 5 saves in 45 minutes of play. Drew Annas played the second half, picking up one save.
The #2 Bobcats improve to 17-1-1 this season and will travel to Mount Olive College to battle Belmont Abbey Friday, November 2nd at 7:30pm in Conference Carolinas semi-final action. Erskine finishes their season at 6-12-2 (3-6-1 Conference Carolinas).
PICTURED TOP LEFT: Lee Squires