Shahdad, Bobcats upset No. 7 Cobras in extra time thriller

Box score

HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- The Lees-McRae College men's soccer team recorded perhaps its most influential result of the season on Saturday night, upsetting No. 7 Coker College by a 1-0 score line in extra time of a Conference Carolinas matchup.

Lees-McRae (11-4-1, 8-2 CC) edged the conference-leading Coker (13-2, 8-1 CC) Cobras in shots by a 10-9 margin, including a 2-0 advantage in extra time. Both goalkeepers played exceptionally well, recording nine saves between them as Lees-McRae's Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) stopped six attempts at goal to keep his fifth clean sheet of the season. Coker's James Sweeney recorded three saves for the Cobras. Lees-McRae freshman Preston Shahdad (Charlotte, N.C.) scored the lone goal of the match, tallying his second match-winner of the season in extra time.

The Cobras tested Rusling early, forcing the sophomore keeper to make a pair of saves in the first 18 minutes of play as the match went into the interval deadlocked at 0-0. Lees-McRae began to push forward with more urgency early in the second half, forcing Sweeney to make a pair of stops in the opening 15 minutes of the period on attempts from Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) and James Galvani (High Wycombe, England).

The match remained scoreless through the end of regulation, sending the teams into extra time with the Cobras holding a narrow 9-8 advantage in attempts at goal. Neither side would muster a shot in the first 10 minutes of extra time, with the first attempt at goal coming off the foot of Bobcat senior Luke Duffy (Wakefield, England) in the 102nd minute to force Sweeney's third save of the match.

Shahdad's winner came just under a minute and a half later, as the freshman took possession of a loose ball in the area and hammered the finish into the back of the net to give the Bobcats the thrilling one-goal victory.

Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Tuesday, travelling to Gaffney, S.C. to take on Limestone College in a pivotal conference battle to close out the Bobcats' regular season league schedule. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m.

- LMC -