BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The King College men's soccer team scored two goals in the first half, and held off a furious rally by Lees-McRae College en route to a narrow 3-2 victory in Conference Carolinas play on Tuesday evening on Tate Field.
Lees-McRae (3-10-3, 2-5-2 CC) dominated possession for much of the match, outshooting King (2-14, 2-8 CC) by a 24-7 margin, including a 15-3 advantage in the second half. James Smith (Eastbourne, England) and Scott Alford (Hillsborough, N.C.) each found the back of the net for the Bobcats, as Brandon Starling (Fuquay-Varina, N.C.) added an assist and Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) recorded four saves.
Luis Alonso paced the Tornado with two goals, including the winner early in the second half, as Cheo Armstrong added a strike of his own. Joshua Feener tallied five saves between the pipes for King, as Thomas Dube chipped in a team-high three shots on frame.
King got off to a flying start in the 11th minute, taking an early 1-0 lead when Armstrong converted from the penalty spot after a hand ball in the area. The Tornado would double the advantage to 2-0 midway through the 15th minute, when Alonso ran onto the end of a long ball from the back and chipped it over the keeper for his first tally of the night.
The Bobcats nearly halved the advantage to 2-1 at the 20-minute mark, when Starling's strike off a cross from Preston Shahdad (Charlotte, N.C.) was negated by the linesman's flag. Smith narrowly missed a spot on the score sheet eight minutes later, sending a glorious effort just left of the woodwork off a corner.
The second half opened with a flurry of goals, the first of which coming off the foot of Alford in the 49th minute when the sophomore forward ran onto a through ball from Starling, and slotted the finish into the bottom corner to halve the margin to 2-1. Alonso countered less than a minute later, nodding home a free header off a deflected cross to give the Tornado a 3-1 lead.
Lees-McRae again cut the margin to one midway through the 50th minute, capitalizing on a Tornado miscue in the area when Smith smashed a penalty into the upper 90 to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Bobcats relentlessly pushed forward in search of an equalizer over the next 20 minutes, peppering the Tornado goal with six glorious opportunities in that span. Shahdad looked arguably the most dangerous of the Bobcats in the second half, unleashing a trio of tremendous efforts toward goal over the final 25 minutes, including a skillful half volley in the 69th minute that nearly dipped into the top corner from distance.
Feener stood tall for King in the final minutes, making a tremendous diving stop on a late effort by Smith to preserve the one-goal advantage and seal the win for the Tornado.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday when the Bobcats host Mount Olive College in conference play. The Bobcats will honor their 2012 senior class prior to kickoff, which is slated for 4 p.m. on Tate Field.
- LMC -