King escapes Belmont Abbey with 1-1 draw

BELMONT, N.C. – For the first time this season, the King University women's soccer team face a road Conference Carolinas match as they traveled to league leading Belmont Abbey College on Saturday. The Crusaders netted a goal in just the second minute to take the lead, but Morgan Lawson kept the Tornado close in the second half, and Keely Easterling evened the score in the 78th minute as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

Just two minutes into the contest, Belmont Abbey's Amanda Steiner took a pass from Ananda Gebreyesus and punched the ball into the back of the net to give the Crusaders (7-2-1, 3-0-1 CC) the early advantage.

Belmont Abbey put pressure on the King defense all afternoon as they rifled 41 shots in the match, placing 17 on goal. However, the goalkeeper tandem of Nicole Dagher and Lawson kept the score within reach. Dagher made seven saves in the first half while Lawson accounted for a nine saves in the second half and both overtime sessions.

Rachel Thorpe ripped King's first shot of the match in the 19th minute, but the attempt sailed high. Shalisa Barnett had King's next opportunity in the 25th minute, but her shot was turned away by Crusader goalkeeper Hannah Kohls. Thorpe nearly broke through in the 40th minute has her shot got past Kohls. However, Thorpe's attempt hit the post to keep the game a 1-0 at halftime.

Belmont Abbey continued to take shots in the second half, and Lawson made her first save in the 62nd minute. She then came up with three saves in a three minute span starting in the 71st minute when she turned away Jamie Hampton's shot. Lawson then turned away two more Hampton chances to keep King within one goal.

Finally the Tornado (2-6-2, 0-1-2 CC) broke through in the 78th minute as Barnett ripped a shot that was blocked by the Crusader defense. However, the rebound bounced right to Easterling's foot, and she deposited the ball into the back of the net to knot the match at 1-1.

The Crusaders ripped five more shots in regulation, but none of them were on net before Thorpe had a shot sail high in the 84th minute as the game went to overtime.

Rayna Spears had the first scoring chance of overtime as she ripped a shot that went just high in the 93rd minute before play moved to the other end of the field. Hampton laced another shot in the 97th minute, and Cassidy Coutinho placed a shot on net a minute later, but Lawson was up to the challenge again to keep the game tied and send it to a second overtime.

The Crusaders didn't let up in the second extra session, taking three shots in the first two minutes, one of which was turned away by Lawson. From that point on, Belmont Abbey registered two more shots, but neither was on net as the match ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Tornado made 16 saves on 41 Belmont Abbey shots, setting a season-high for saves in a game. It also marked the first time since September of 2011 King has recorded 16 saves in a game. Lawson posted a season-high of nine saves while Dagher added seven of her own. Offensively, Easterling netted her second goal of the season, and her career.

King will stay on the road next week as they travel to Erskine College on Wednesday evening. Kickoff from Due West, S.C., is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.