Virginia-Wise holds on to defeat Tusculum, 14-13

Hayley Bartlett scored four goals for the Pioneers against Virginia-Wise
Hayley Bartlett scored four goals for the Pioneers against Virginia-Wise

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Virginia-Wise built a 10-4 halftime lead and held on to defeat Tusculum College 14-13 in non-conference women's lacrosse action Wednesday evening at Pioneer Field.

The Cavaliers (1-0) scored the first two goals of the match and never trailed against the Pioneers (2-1), turning a 6-4 lead into a 10-4 advantage at intermission by scoring the final four goals of the first half in a span of 5 minutes, 26 seconds.

Kristen Gobbi led UVa-Wise with four goals on five shots while Catherine Dina added four goals for the Cavaliers, who had a slim 26-23 edge in shots but held an 18-11 advantage in draw controls over the Pioneers.

Hayley Bartlett paced Tusculum with four goals while Madison Malone had two goals and six assists for the Pioneers, who forced the Cavaliers into 16 turnovers in the second half in outscoring Virginia-Wise by a 9-4 margin.

Virginia-Wise took a 2-0 lead on goals by Rachel Cole and Jesse French in the first six minutes, before Tusculum scored its first goal of the match from Savannah Elliott with 23:07 left in the first half. The teams then exchanged the next four goals, with two tallies from the Cavaliers' Gobbi answered by the Pioneers' Bartlett and Elliott. Hannah Marshall and Ashley Wells then scored back-to-back goals to give Virginia-Wise a 6-3 lead with 10:54 left in the opening half.

Bartlett's second goal of the game cut the Virginia-Wise margin to 6-4 with 10:15 to go in the half, but goals from McKayla Grasham, Gobbi, Dina and Sydney Steinberg sent the Cavaliers to the half with a 10-4 advantage. Virginia-Wise outshot Tusculum 16-8 in the first half while both teams committed nine turnovers.

The Pioneers came out with two quick goals to start the second half from Bartlett and Malone to cut the deficit to 10-6, but French came back with her second of the game for an 11-6 Cavaliers lead with 26:26 remaining. Tusculum rallied with three straight goals in a four-minute span from Sierra Haas, Emily Gleason and Rachel Holmes to whittle the UVa-Wise lead to 11-9 with 20:32 left.

The Cavaliers and Pioneers exchanged the next six goals, as two from Dina and one from Gobbi were answered by Calyn Kelly, Bailey Lowery and Malone, the latter with 5:27 remaining to pull the Pioneers within 14-12. Bartlett cut the margin to one at 14-13 with 2:10 left, and the Pioneers had possession in the final minute but had two shots go wide before the Cavaliers killed off the final seconds.

Tusculum caused 17 of the Cavaliers' 25 turnovers, led by Christen Craig who had five caused turnovers along with two ground balls. Malone, Gleason, Claire Stanton and Shelby Gray had two caused turnovers apiece, with Gray leading the team with four ground balls. Holmes, Malone, Gleason and Juliette Cusano had two draw controls each.

Marshall led Virginia-Wise with four ground balls while Cole had seven draw controls and Grasham finished with five. Marshall also had a team-high three caused turnovers for the Cavaliers, who finished with nine as a team.

Brooke Wagner came on in relief of Kaitlin Winnie in goal just over 13 minutes into the first half and finished with six saves for the Pioneers, while Melanie Reilly had seven saves for the Cavaliers.

Tusculum will be on the road Saturday at Pfeiffer in a non-conference match beginning at 4 p.m.