The Lee women’s soccer team put together another stellar defensive performance in shutting out visiting Auburn Montgomery 2-0, Thursday evening at the Lee Soccer Field.
The victory was the eighth straight shutout for the four-time NAIA national champions. The Lady Flames move to 10-1 overall and 7-0 in the Southern States Athletic Conference.
With the loss the WarHawks fall to 9-2-1 overall and 4-2 in SSAC play.
The two clubs played tight defensively for the first 30 minutes of the opening half. The Lady Flames broke the scoreless tie at the 30:56 mark on a header by Laura Thacker. Leah Fortune provided the assist off a corner kick.
In the second half Lee would add an insurance goal in the 77th minute as Fortune headed home a beautiful long cross from Amy Cochran.
The WarHawks had some good scoring opportunities throughout the match. Lee’s senior midfielder Caroline Scales came up with a huge team save early in the second half to help preserve the shutout.
“Tonight was a very good performance of soccer by both teams, and I am really pleased with how we responded to some tough situations over the course of the game,” remarked Coach Matt Yelton.
“We have several players that are nursing some injuries and a few others that have been really sick, but the character of this team to fight through adversity is really high, and they made me very proud tonight.”
Both teams recorded 11 shots. Auburn Montgomery had five on goal while the Lady Flames had seven shots that were on frame.
Lee held the advantage in corner kicks, registering five and scoring off of one of them. AUM recorded three corner kicks.
Guiding Lee’s defense was senior goalkeeper Leah Wilson, who had four saves in the shutout victory. Holly Clarke had five saves and allowed two goals in the defeat for the WarHawks.
Yelton spoke about his team’s performance, particularly on the defensive end.
“The quality of our defenders was outstanding in keeping a very good AUM team from scoring tonight. Our defense has been very strong all season, but I thought they played exceptionally well tonight. I don’t really want to single out any one individual because tonight’s performance as a team was very good against an extremely well coached and disciplined team from AUM.”
Yelton added, “The SSAC is a very tough league and we have put ourselves in a good position for the remainder of the season, but we have four more games to go and want to make sure we give every game our best effort.”
The Lady Flames will continue to do battle in the tough SSAC on Saturday as they head to Montgomery, Ala. to tangle with Faulkner University. The match is set for a 5 p.m. start.
WARHAWKS 3, FLAMES 2
With less than three minutes remaining it appeared the Lee men’s soccer team would pull off the upset against visiting and 6th-ranked Auburn Montgomery on Thursday afternoon.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first half, the Flames tied the contest at the 65:07 mark on a goal by Sias Reyneke. The score came after it deflected off the body of AUM goalkeeper Vignir Johannesson. Sebastian Vallejo was credited with the assist.
Reyneke came right back to put the Flames on top 2-1 with 69:56 showing on the clock. Lee’s defense took control and seemed to be holding the Montgomery club at bay until the final minutes ticked away. Agust Arnarson then suddenly broke the hearts’ of the Lee fans and players after ripping in a shot off a cross to send the contest into the first overtime period, tied at two.
The Flames had at least three chances to put the contest out of reach earlier, when three shots hit the bar and kicked away. Shots were almost identical for the entire 102 minutes. AUM had 19 shots and six were on goal. Lee took 16 shots and had nine on target in the rugged Southern States Athletic Conference battle. Both goalkeepers, Tom Halsall and Johannesson, registered three saves apiece.
After a scoreless 10 minutes in the opening overtime and the Flames still suffering from the shock of the tying WarHawk goal, the visitors pulled victory from the jaws of defeat when Arnarson gained possession of the ball off a misplayed cross and drilled it into the back of the net.
The victory allowed AUM to improve to 5-1 in the SSAC race and 10-2-1 overall. The Flames slipped to 3-4 in league action and 7-5-1 overall.
“It was heartbreaking tonight,” said coach Paul Furey, who also had sensed victory until the final minutes of regulation. “We had it but couldn’t hold it. It is tough when the boys leave it all on the field like they did and then get it taken away from them. I was proud of our effort. I know the boys wanted and expected more.”
The Flames will have to regroup quickly and head for Montgomery, Ala., and face Faulkner University on Saturday evening. “We will pull up our socks from here and get ready to go,” noted Furey. “I think most can see that this team is coming together and gaining confidence from each match we play.”