Photo courtesy of Gerry Wall
BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College women's soccer team looks for its first win this week when the Bobcats host Newberry on Wednesday (Oct. 3) for a 2 p.m. kickoff and then jump back into conference play facing Converse on Homecoming Saturday (Oct. 6) at 1:45 p.m. Video and live stats for both matches will be available at www.lmcbobcats.com.
About the Bobcats - LMC looks for its first win of the season facing one non-conference opponent followed by a Conference Carolinas opponent. The Bobcats are 10th in the league in goals with seven, tied for ninth with five assists and also 10th in the league in points with 19. Autumn Esposito and Sarah Giarusso share the team lead in goals with two each, while three other Bobcats have each netted one goal apiece on the season. Lauren Paulsen's three assists lead the team and are also tied for fourth in the conference, while Esposito also has two assists on the year. Esposito is also the team's points leader with six, while Giarusso has four, Paulsen has three and three other Bobcats each have totaled two points so far on the season. Alexis Feely has been a mainstay in net for the Bobcats, owning a 2.84 goals against average (GAA), a .797 save percentage and the second-highest save total in the nation at 94. Her GAA is 10th in the league, while her save percentage is third.
Last Time Out - The Bobcats dropped their last Conference Carolinas match on Saturday (Sept. 29) in heartbreaking fashion to Mount Olive 4-3 in overtime. Mount Olive struck in the fourth minute for the opening goal when Kaylee Larson set up Jaelyn Brown for her fourth of the season. The Bobcats would knot the game at one-all after a corner kick from Pali Smith was cleared right to Tegan Dean. The sophomore stashed home her first collegiate goal in the 21st minute, beating Mount Olive's keeper low left for the score. The Trojans would re-gain the lead in the 39thminute when a Lees-McRae foul just outside the box set up Elena Esparica on the far edge for a free kick. Esparica was able to bend her free kick just enough to get over LMC keeper Feely for her first of the season. Mount Olive would take their 2-1 lead to the half. The Bobcats would tie the match yet again when Giarusso made a run into the box before being taken down and being awarded a penalty kick. The sophomore scored her first career goal on the attempt, drawing the match even in the 61st minute. Giarusso would put the Bobcats ahead with her second of the game in the 71st minute, deflecting a ball past Mount Olive keeper Marlayna Frutiger that was sent in by Paulsen. As the minutes ticked down, the Trojans mounted one final push. After being awarded a free kick about 40 yards out, Mount Olive pushed their 10 field players into the box, and had Frutiger take the free kick. The Trojan goalkeeper lofted a perfect ball that was saved and deflected off the cross bar by Feely. Brown was there to tap it home for her second of the game, tying the match in the 89th minute. The two teams would head to overtime, and almost completed a full extra session before a hustle play from Jordyn Davis created a 2-on-1 with keeper Feely and a defender. Davis crossed the ball over to Kaylee Mariani who scored her first of the season in the 97th minute to get the Trojans the win. Mount Olive held a slim 14-13 edge in shots, and also a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal. Alexa Todd led the Bobcats with four shots total putting two on goal, while two of Giarusso's three total shots were on frame. Six other Bobcats each recorded one shot in the contest. Feely (0-9-0) made eight saves in the loss. LMC also out-worked Mount Olive in corner kicks eight to three.
About the Opponents - Newberry enters the week at 3-5-0 including a 0-4-0 mark in South Atlantic Conference (SAC). Newberry is tied for fifth in the SAC in goals with 17, while also being tied for third in assists with 14 and fourth with 48 points. Daphne Heyaime leads the Wolves and is tied for fourth in the SAC in goals with seven, while six other Bobcats have scored on goals on the season. Jacqueline Aldrete leads the Wolves and is also tied for third in the league in three assists. Heyaime and Ragan Hill are both tied for seventh in the conference. Katelin Morris and Salley Slice each have also recorded two assists on the season. Heyaime's 17 points lead the team and are third in the conference, while Slice is the only other player with double-digit points on the season (10). Seven other Wolves have registered points on the season. Jayleen Gant plays the majority of the minutes in net for Newberry, posting a 2.27 GAA, a .712 save percentage and 37 saves. Her GAA is 11th in the league, her save percentage is eighth and her saves are the third-highest total in the conference.
Converse comes into the week with a 1-7-0 overall record as well as a 0-5-0 record in Conference Carolinas. The Valkyries will take on UNC Pembroke on Wednesday before coming to LMC. Converse has scored six goals on the season, recorded two assists and also registered 14 points. Five different Valkyries have each netted one goal on the season, while A.C. Albritton has tallied the lone assist on the season. The five goal-scorers have two points each on the year, while Albritton has one point. Darian Bankston is Converse's main goalkeeper with a 3.11 GAA, a .711 save percentage and 54 saves.
Series History vs. Opponents - This will be the second all-time meeting between LMC and Newberry, with Newberry leading the series 1-0. The Wolves won the first meeting last season 2-0.
This will be the 19th all-time meeting between LMC and Converse, with Lees-McRae leading the all-time series 16-2. The Bobcats won last year's meeting at Converse 2-1.