BANNER ELK, N.C. --- The Erskine College men's soccer team netted the equalizer just 23 seconds from full time, and scored just over three minutes into the second extra time period, edging Lees-McRae College by a 2-1 margin in a tightly-contested Conference Carolinas battle on Wednesday evening.
The match proved to be a hard-fought and physical battle, with Erskine (7-4-1, 4-0 CC) edging Lees-McRae (6-5-1, 4-2 CC) by a 21-13 margin in attempts on goal, including a 10-7 advantage in the second half. Erskine was awarded seven corner kicks to one for Lees-McRae in the match. The Bobcats would control possession through the center of the park for long stretches of the contest, frustrating the Fleet midfield to the tune of 16 fouls and one caution.
Jordan Wright (West Lothian, Scotland) scored the opening goal of the match for the Bobcats, netting his seventh of the campaign to account for the first strike allowed by Erskine in conference play this season. Thomas Rusling (Sheffield, England) made five saves for the Bobcats, as Wright paced the team with five shots, including three on frame.
Andrew Settlemire led the way for Erskine with a goal and an assist, netting the extra time match-winner, while attempting a contest-best nine shots. Jack Power tallied a goal of his own, as Roberto De La Vina stopped three of the Bobcats' four shots on target.
The match remained scoreless until the opening moments of the 58th minute, when Wright made a long run in from the flank and delivered a low finish into the corner to give the Bobcats a 1-0 advantage. The freshman forward nearly added a second five minutes later, forcing a skillful stop by De La Vina midway through the 63rd minute.
Wright would be dismissed from proceedings on a controversial red card late in the 76th minute, forcing the Bobcats to play the remainder of the match down to 10 men.
Erskine responded with a greater sense of urgency over the through the rest of regulation, pushing forward with pace and determination while outshooting the Bobcats, 5-0, in the remaining 14 minutes. One such push would result in the equalizer seconds ahead of the full-time whistle, when Settlemire flicked a cross to Power who then nodded home the free header to send the match into extra time.
The Bobcats answered with a true team effort throughout each extra time period, launching a series of well-orchestrated counter attacks in the first added stanza. Freshman Chris Mullins (Greensboro, N.C.) came inches away from snatch the winner late on in the 98th minute, ringing the bar from just outside the area following a concentrated buildup through the center.
Erskine would produce the heartbreaking finish early in the 104th minute, when Settlemire won a long ball 25 yards from goal before making the turn and delivering a blast into the bottom corner for the extra-time winner.
Lees-McRae returns to the pitch on Saturday, travelling to Gaffney, S.C. for a pivotal conference clash with Limestone College at 3 p.m.
- LMC -