Bobcats edge Cardinals, 8-7, on last-second winner

BOONE, N.C. --- Senior attack Jessica Travers (Asheville, N.C.) scored with 12 seconds left on the clock, and Olivia Gudewich (Frederick, Md.) added a game-high four goals to lead the Lees-McRae College women's lacrosse team to a thrilling 8-7 victory over visiting Wheeling Jesuit University in non-conference play on Thursday evening at Watauga High School.

Lees-McRae (2-1) converted 5-of-6 free position shots in the contest while recording 45 ground balls and forcing 24 turnovers by Wheeling Jesuit (1-3). The Cardinals controlled 13-of-17 draws and scooped up 49 ground balls, while outshooting the Bobcats by a 27-18 margin.

Gudewich paced the Bobcats with four goals, swelling her team-high total to 11 for the season. Katelin Rooney (Naples, Fla.) added two strikes and a game-high nine ground balls, while Travers tallied her second goal of the campaign and Jenah Tracy (Naples, Fla.) chipped in an assist.

Ximena Dupont (Fort Myers, Fla.) recorded five ground balls and four caused turnovers, while Mia Emmerson (Orlando, Fla.) and Taylor Drake (Jupiter, Fla.) posted eight and seven grounders, respectively. Emmerson also made a season-high 14 saves for the Bobcats.

Jessie Tufnell led the way for Wheeling Jesuit with three goals and one assist, while Allie Fetty added two strikes, one helper, and a game-high seven draw controls. Sara Fitzsimon chipped in one goal and a contest-best nine ground balls, as Cassidy Forsen forced a game-high five turnovers. Stephanie Katona, Fetty, and Forsen each posted six grounders for the Cardinals.

The Bobcats struck first just over seven and a half minutes into the game, taking an early 1-0 lead on a converted eight-meter shot by Rooney before Katona and Tufnell answered for Wheeling Jesuit, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 advantage. Gudewich countered with a pair of strikes for the Bobcats, lifting Lees-McRae to a 3-2 lead with five minutes to go before Tufnell evened the margin at 3-3 heading into the intermission.

After Gudewich opened the second half with her third of the day at the 27:37 mark, the Cardinals answered with a pair of strikes, claiming a narrow 5-4 advantage when Tufnell completed her hat trick with 15:22 to play. The Bobcats responded with three straight goals, taking a 7-5 lead on Drake's sixth of the season at the 6:37 mark.

Wheeling Jesuit quickly countered with a pair of goals, evening the tally at 7-7 on Fitzsimon's first strike of the day with 2:17 left on the clock. The Bobcats would come through in the clutch with less than 30 seconds remaining, when Ximena Dupont forced a turnover and sprung Tracy down the sideline. Tracy made a quick move inside and found Travers on the doorstep, putting the senior in perfect position to rip the winner past the Cardinal goalie with 12 seconds ticks left on the clock.

Lees-McRae returns to action on Thursday, March 14 when the Bobcats travel to Young Harris, Ga. to take on Young Harris College in non-conference play at 2 p.m.

- LMC -