Photo courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team seeks its first win of the season this week, hosting regionally-ranked Limestone College for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Wednesday (Sept. 26) and the University of Mount Olive for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday (Sept. 29). Video and live stats for both matches will be available at www.lmcbobcats.com.
About the Bobcats - LMC enters the week tied for 10th in the league in goals (four), tied for ninth in assists (four) and 10th in points (12). Autumn Esposito paces the offense, leading the team in goals (two), assists (two) and points (six) while being tied for fourth in Conference Carolinas in assists. Katie Jo Daniel and Pali Smith have contributed the other goals on the season for the Bobcats, while Lauren Paulsen is tied for the team lead and also tied for fourth in the conference with two assists of her own. Behind Esposito's six points, Daniel, Smith and Paulsen have each recorded two. Alexis Feely has played the majority of the minutes in goal for the Bobcats, posting a 2.66 goals against average (GAA), an .802 save percentage and nation-leading 69 total saves.
Last Time Out - The Bobcats suffered two tough losses last week, dropping their non-conference contest to Tusculum 4-0 on Sept. 19 and falling at Erskine in overtime 2-1 on Sept. 22. Against Tusculum, the Pioneers struck quickly with their first goal in the fourth minute, coming off the foot of Brooke Radcliffe off of a Nicole McMillen corner kick. Carly Mill would net her first of the season in the 19th minute off an assist from Kaitlyn Watson to make it 2-0, before Jordan Newby would head in her first of the season off of a Yvette Raaijen free kick in the 35th minute. After taking their 3-0 lead to the half, Tusculum would score once more in the 49th minute on Emma McDonald's second of the season from Sonja Ballmert and McMillen. Tusculum totaled 18 shots to LMC's eight, with nine on goal for the visitors and four on goal for the home team. Alexa Todd led all LMC shooters with three total shots and two of them finding frame, while five others each recorded one shot in the contest. Both teams also finished the night with five corner kicks. Hope Sanborn saw her first action of the season in the contest, making five saves.
Against Erskine, the teams went back and forth for most of the first half, with Erskine totaling six shots and LMC having one going into the final minute. Smith would score her first career collegiate goal assisted by Esposito in the final minute of the first half to put the Bobcats up 1-0 at the break. As the second half ticked on, the Bobcats inched closer and closer to a victory. Erskine would knot the game at one in the 86th minute when Brittiney Gardner headed in her first of the season from Jane Ashley Meredith, and the teams would head to overtime. Erskine owned the shot advantage 4-1 in the extra session, before Gardner set up Maddie Cole for the winner and her second of the season in the final minute of the overtime period. The Bobcats totaled four shots in the contest with one each coming from Smith, Todd, Tegan Dean and Maddie Olson. Along with Smith's goal, Dean registered the second shot on goal of the contest for LMC. Lees-McRae also totaled three corner kicks to Erskine's eight. Feely recorded her fifth double-digit save effort of the season, stopping 13 shots.
About the Opponents - Limestone comes into the match with a 6-1-0 overall record including a perfect 4-0-0 in Conference Carolinas and is ranked fifth in the Southeast region. Limestone leads the conference in scoring with 27 goals on the season, while also leading the league in assists with 15 and points with 69. Megan O'Connor leads the team and shares the conference lead with eight goals, while Alex Mathis and Holly Rawcliffe has each netted four goals on the season. Seven other Saints have scored at least one goal on the season for Limestone. Millie Shaw leads the team and the conference with four assists, while nine others have also contributed assists on the season. O'Connor's 17 points also lead both the team and the conference, while Rawcliffe is the only other Limestone player with double-digit points on the season (10). Limestone is second in the conference and is one of three teams with a GAA under 1.00 (0.57). Veronica Smeltzer has logged the majority of the minutes in net for Limestone, leading the conference in GAA (0.48), being tied for seventh in saves (26) and having the second-highest save percentage in the conference at .897.
Mount Olive comes into the match at 2-2-0 and 1-1-0 in Conference Carolinas, taking on North Greenville on Wednesday (Sept. 26) before coming to Banner Elk. The Trojans come into the match fourth in the conference in goals (11), tied for sixth in assists (six) and fourth in points with 29. Raven Withaar leads the team and is tied for fourth in the league in goals with four, while six other Trojans have scored goals on the season. Kaylee Larson's three assists lead the team and are also tied for second in the conference, while three others have chipped in assists on the season. Withaar's nine points also lead the team and are tied for fifth in the league, while seven others have contributed points on the season for UMO. Haley Childress and Marlayna Frutiger have both played meaningful minutes between the pipes for the Trojans this season, with Childress's 0.67 GAA being third in the conference and Frutiger's 2.32 being ninth. Frutiger has made 14 saves to Childress's nine, while Childress's .900 save percentage leads the conference and Frutiger has a .700 save percentage.
Series History vs. Opponents - This will be the 25th all-time meeting between LMC and Limestone, with Limestone leading the all-time series 13-9 with two ties included. Limestone won last year's meeting 1-0 in Gaffney, S.C. in the Conference Carolinas tournament final.
This will be the 24th all-time meeting between LMC and Mount Olive, with UMO leading the all-time series 14-8 along with one tie in the series.