BRISTOL, Tenn. – In a match that it could not afford to lose, the King University women's soccer team used a first half offensive explosion to build an insurmountable lead to defeat Mount Olive College 5-1 and earn a bid to the Conference Carolinas Tournament.
The match between Mount Olive and King became a battle for the final spot in the conference tournament field, with the Trojans needing a win to advance while King could extend its season with a win or a tie. With the win, the Tornado clinched the No. 8 seed in the tournament will travel to face top-seeded Lees-McRae College on Monday at 7:00 p.m.
Just 25 seconds into the match, the Rayna Spears fired a shot that was saved by Mount Olive goalkeeper Stephanie McCoy. It would be an omen of things to come, as the Tornado would place half of its 18 shots on goal en route to its most productive offensive output in the Division II era.
Spears got on the board first, scoring in the seventh minute off a corner kick from Lindsay Curtis. Just nine minutes later, Shalisa Barnett added her second goal of the season on a free kick from 25 yards away that she perfectly placed just out of the goalkeeper's reach and into the top of the net.
Rachel Thorpe, the Tornado's most prolific goal-scorer, scored in the 28th minute on what may have been King's best-looking goal of the season. Keely Easterling was 20 yards to the King side of the field when she turned and played a ball to Paula Doran that hugged the line and slipped just past a defender. Doran angled toward the left post, then played a cross to Thorpe on the right side of the box that she struck from 12 yards away and found the left side of the net to give the Tornado a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 advantage in the first half. It was Thorpe's 12th goal of the season, giving her the most by a Tornado player since Morgan Shelton's 14 goals in the 2011 season.
After the Trojans inched closer with a goal early in the second half, one of King's unsung heroes gave the Tornado a three-goal advantage once again. Senior defender Bekah Ramstack, playing her final home match, scored her first career goal to set off a wild celebration on the Tornado sideline. Lindsay Curtis played a free kick into the box from 20 yards away that deflected off a handful of players before senior Devon Shanklin saved it from going out of bounds. Ramstack collected the ball from three yards away and finished to push the advantage to 4-1.
In the 77th minute, Cassie Garland's second goal of the season made the advantage 5-1. Garland scored from just in front of the goal after she was given a perfect touch pass from Spears.
In all, five different Tornado players scored goals, another five were credited with assists, and goalkeeper Nicole Dagher made four saves.