GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Coker built an eight-goal lead and held for a 17-13 victory over Tusculum in South Atlantic Conference men's lacrosse action Friday night at a rainy Pioneer Field.
Ethan Irizarry scored five goals and Rylee Marsh added three goals and two assists for the Cobras (6-5, 3-3 SAC), who were outshot 46-29 and lost 28 of 34 faceoffs to the Pioneers, but managed to overcome the lopsided stat differential to win for the third time in as many visits to Tusculum all-time.
Nate Wade led the Pioneers (4-6, 2-3 SAC) with a school-record eight points on five goals and three assists, while faceoff specialist Ethan Bohannon shattered the program records for faceoffs won (26) and ground balls (24). As a team, the Pioneers won 28 of 34 faceoffs against the Cobras, and had a 50-29 edge in ground balls including 35-15 in the second half.
Wade's eight points broke the program single-game record of seven points, set seven previous times, while his five goals tied his career high and marked the eighth time in school history that a Pioneer scored at least five goals in a game. He scored all five of his goals and had seven of his eight points in the second half as the Pioneers nearly completed their second straight comeback from a large second-half deficit.
Bohannon's 24 ground balls are the third-most in a game in NCAA Division II since becoming an official stat in 2014, while his 26 faceoff wins (in 31 attempts) are tied for the third most in Division II this season and tied for 12th in the Division II record books since 2010. He broke the school-single game records of 17 ground balls and 22 faceoff wins set by Alexander Kleinberg against North Greenville on April 7, 2015.
Keegan Bell and Tyler Klarner each scored a pair of goals for the Pioneers, who trailed 8-2 at halftime and 10-2 midway through the third quarter before rallying to within 14-12 with just under five minutes to play. Last Saturday, the Pioneers came back from an 8-1 halftime deficit to beat Newberry 12-11 in double overtime, after scoring twice in the final minute to force overtime.
Coker opened the scoring just over 90 seconds into the first quarter on a goal by DeShaun Ormond, but Tusculum came back to tie the game at 1-1 on a goal by Liam Macdonald. The Cobras would close the first quarter with four straight goals to go on top 5-1, and extended the lead to 6-1 on the second goal of the evening by Andrew Dappen with 7:16 left in the first half.
Andrew Kransberger broke the Pioneer drought at 23 minutes, 16 seconds as he scored with 3:46 to go in the first half, but back-to-back goals from the Cobras' Matt Murphy and Brooks Long gave Coker an 8-2 lead at the half.
Coker's lead ballooned to 10-2 on goals by Denton Wilks and Marsh, the latter with 7:41 left in the third quarter, before Wade went to work for the Pioneers. He scored four goals and assisted on one from Klarner in the final 6:54 of the third quarter, as the Pioneers cut the margin to 11-7 entering the final period.
Goals by Irizarry and Marsh sandwiched a tally from the Pioneers' Klarner as Coker led 13-8 with 10:49 left, but Bell scored twice in just under a minute and a half to pull the Pioneers back within 13-10 with 8:23 remaining. Irizarry restored the Cobras' four-goal lead at 14-10 with 5:55 to play, but Chris Ryan got on the board for Tusculum with 5:17 left, followed by Wade's fifth of the night just 22 seconds later, as the Pioneers trailed 14-12 with 4:50 remaining.
With Tusculum's defense selling out to force a turnover, the Cobras scored three virtual empty-net goals in the final three minutes, two from Irizarry, while the Pioneers could only muster a goal from Dallas Wade with 1:50 left which cut the margin to 15-13 but capped the scoring for Tusculum in the match.
Ormond starred on defense for the Cobras, coming up with 12 ground balls and forcing a pair of turnovers, while also winning two faceoffs late in the match. Charles Stafford added five ground balls and had three caused turnovers for Coker, which killed off its only man-down opportunity in the third quarter.
Kransberger had six ground balls for the Pioneers, while Macdonald and Eric Varlas each had four ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers. The Pioneers were whistled for two penalties, with Coker converting on one of its man-up opportunities in the first quarter.
Will Bender started in goal for the Pioneers and had two saves while playing nearly all of the first half. Patrick Thomas came on late in the opening half and finished the match with three saves. For Coker, Chris Hagy made nine of his 15 saves in the second half.
Tusculum will be on the road Wednesday at Lincoln Memorial for a 4 p.m. match against the Railsplitters.