Nov. 10, 2010

MORROW, Ga. - This time of the year in men's soccer, it's all about surviving and advancing. The Clayton State Lakers did just that on Wednesday.

Playing host to Lees-McRae in the preliminary game of the 2010 NCAA Division II National Tournament, the Lakers held on nearly for dear life against the determined Bobcats and pulled off a thrilling 2-1 victory over Lees-McRae at Laker Field. 19th-ranked Clayton State, the Peach Belt Conference regular season co-champions, improves to 17-3 overall.

The Lakers will now Peach Belt rival Flagler on Friday at 4 p.m. in the first round, being hosted at Montevallo. Lees-McRae, champions on Conference Carolinas and last season's NCAA Division II national runner-up, finishes its season 13-5-3.

Clayton State took control early behind the play of junior forward Ryan Pugh. The Peach Belt Conference Player of the Year gave the Lakers a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute on a breakaway goal off an assist by Kevin Rodriguez.

The score stayed 1-0 until the 42nd minute when Pugh struck again. He scored in front of the goal off a cross from Leighton Fredericks. That gave Clayton State a 2-0 lead at halftime.

Lees-McRae came out more intense in the second half. In fact, the Bobcats cut the Clayton State lead in half as James Galvani scored on a shot from the top of the penalty box to the left corner of the net. Lees-McRae had numerous opportunities to tie the game, but could not convert down the stretch as the Lakers played containment defense.

Clayton State goalkeeper Brian Garcia recorded two saves in the victory, while Bobcat goalkeeper Thomas Rusling recorded three saves. The shots were even 12-12 for both teams.