Late goal caps rally as Pioneers defeat Lincoln Memorial, 15-14

Late goal caps rally as Pioneers defeat Lincoln Memorial, 15-14

HARROGATE, Tenn. --- Emily Gleason scored the winning goal with 12 seconds left as Tusculum rallied from a four-goal deficit in the final eight minutes to defeat Lincoln Memorial 15-14 in South Atlantic Conference women's lacrosse Wednesday afternoon.

Savannah Elliott scored six goals and became Tusculum's career leader in goals scored with 106 as the Pioneers (5-8, 3-2 SAC) scored the final five goals of the afternoon to erase a 14-10 Railsplitters lead. Gleason finished with three goals and an assist, Rachel Holmes had three goals and Madison Malone had a goal and five assists for Tusculum, which led 7-5 early in the second half before Lincoln Memorial went on a 7-1 run to take a 12-8 lead.

Zoe Zervos led the Railsplitters (3-8, 1-4 SAC) with four goals and Amara Moss and Jasmin Click added three goals apiece for Lincoln Memorial, which led for most of the game before Tusculum mounted its comeback in the final minutes.

The Railsplitters took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Click with 2 1/2 minutes gone in the first half, and went up 2-0 when Kennedy Buechner scored with 21:51 left in the half. Holmes netted the first goal of the day for the Pioneers just 41 seconds after Buechner's goal, but Moss extended the LMU Lead to 3-1 with 16:35 left in the half.

The Pioneers would tie the score just over a minute and a half later on goals from Holmes and Malone, but Zervos responded 23 seconds after Malone's tally to restore the Railsplitter lead at 4-3. Elliott tied the game at 4-4 with 9:57 left in the half with her 101st career goal, breaking a tie with Kelsey Crow for the Tusculum career record. LMU went back ahead 5-4 on a goal by Rachel Bernhardt with 6:56 on the clock, but Tusculum would tie the game again on a goal by Elliott with 3:19 left in the half, and took its first lead at 6-5 as Gleason scored on a free-position shot with 47 seconds to play in the half.

In the second half, Elliott gave the Pioneers a 7-5 lead just 42 seconds into the half, but the Railsplitters got two quick goals from Casey Kelly and Moss to tie the game at 7-7 just 49 seconds later. Elliott's fourth goal of the afternoon put the Pioneers back ahead 8-7 with 26:34 to play, but the Railsplitters would respond with five unanswered goals in a span of nearly nine minutes, the last coming from Zervos to give LMU a 12-8 lead with 15:09 to go.

Goals by the Pioneers' Sierra Haas and Holmes were answered by the Railsplitters' Heather Roache and Zervos, leaving LMU ahead 14-10 with 10:09 remaining. However, the Railsplitters would have possession just three times in the next four minutes, putting one shot on goal, as the Pioneers ran off four straight goals to tie the game. Eliza Ryan triggered a surge of three goals in 52 seconds as she scored with 7:20 to play, followed by Gleason and Elliott to bring the Pioneers back within 14-13 with 6:28 to play. Elliott then tied the game on a free-position shot with 5:53 left.

Tusculum's defense continued to clamp down on the LMU offense, holding the Railsplitters without a shot and forcing turnovers on each of their final two possessions of the game. The Pioneers gained possession with four minutes left and never relinquished the ball, setting up Gleason for the winning goal off an assist by Elliott with 12 seconds left. Tusculum then controlled the ensuing draw and ran out the clock to clinch the win.

Malone's six-point performance extended her streak of consecutive games with a point to 41 games dating back to the 2015 season. Malone also had five ground balls and four caused turnovers to lead the Pioneers, while Holmes had four ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers. Gleason had four draw controls and two caused turnovers for the Pioneers, who caused 15 of the Railsplitters' 21 turnovers in the contest.

Kelly led the Railsplitters with four ground balls and three caused turnovers, while Moss had three ground balls, a game-high six draw controls and two caused turnovers. LMU caused 18 of Tusculum's 20 turnovers on the afternoon, including four by goalkeeper Shannon Novak who also finished with a game-high eight ground balls.

Tusculum outshot Lincoln Memorial 33-28 in the match and had a 26-24 advantage in ground balls, while the Railsplitters had a 16-15 edge in draw controls. Tusculum had 12 clears in 17 tries and LMU recorded 14 clears in 20 attempts.

Brooke Wagner started in goal for the Pioneers and had six saves in 32 minutes, followed by Kaitlin Winnie who played 28 minutes and recorded two saves to earn the win in relief. Novak made nine saves for the Railsplitters, with seven coming in the first half.

Tusculum will be home on Saturday at noon to face eighth-ranked Queens University of Charlotte in a SAC match from Pioneer Field. The Royals are a perfect 25-0 all-time in SAC regular-season matches and have won all three conference regular-season and tournament championships.