Photo Courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. – The Lees-McRae College men's soccer team will begin its 2019 season with matches on the road at Mars Hill on Thursday and Lenoir-Rhyne on Sunday. Both contests are scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.
New Year, New Coach – Lees-McRae will be under new leadership in 2019 as Shane Calvert was named the program's new head coach in early August. Calvert comes to Banner Elk after spending the past two years as the Head Boys Soccer Coach/Director of Operations/Summer Camps Coordinator at the Darlington School Soccer Academy in Rome, Georgia. Calvert, who is the tenth head coach in the history of the program, also has collegiate coaching stints at Wofford (2015-2017), Clemson (2014-2015) and Tusculum (2005-2007) during his career.
Fourth in the Preseason Poll – After finishing fifth in the Conference Carolinas standings in 2018, the Bobcats were picked to finish fourth in the league in the annual preseason coaches' poll. Anders Stoakes, Agustin Ortiz and Johannes Oeksnevad were selected as players to watch for the team this fall.
Starting the Season Strong – Historically, the Bobcats have fared well in their season openers. Lees-McRae has posted a record of 15-12-3 in season openers dating back to the program's days as a junior college.
About the Opponents – Mars Hill was 6-7-2 overall and 2-6-2 in South Atlantic Conference (SAC) play last season. The Lions were a much different team at home than on the road last fall. MHU went 5-2-1 in games played on its home field compared to a 1-5-1 mark in road or neutral site contests.
Lenoir-Rhyne is coming off its third straight double-digit win campaign in 2018. The Bears figure to be just as talented on the pitch in 2019 as they were picked to win their conference in the league's preseason poll last month. Furthermore, L-R has three preseason All-Conference players in Carles Montoliu Lobo, Victor Cascon and Goncalo Garcia.
Series Histories vs. Opponents – Given the locations of both Mars Hill and Lenoir-Rhyne in relation to Banner Elk, it's no surprise that these three schools have seen a lot of each other over the years. The Bobcats have held the edge against Mars Hill with a record of 12-4-1 since the first meeting back in 1991. Lenoir-Rhyne, however, has edge against Lees-McRae with a record of 7-5-4 since 1992, including a thrilling 2-1 double overtime victory in Banner Elk last season.