GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum held off a North Greenville rally in the closing minutes as the Pioneers defeated the Crusaders 13-12 in non-conference women's lacrosse action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
Emily Gleason, Rachel Holmes and Juliette Cusano scored three goals apiece for the Pioneers (2-2), who led 13-8 with 10 minutes remaining but saw the Crusaders (3-2) scored four goals in six minutes to cut the margin to one. However, the Pioneers allowed just one shot in the final four minutes after the Crusaders moved within a goal.
Rachel Kellogg led North Greenville with five goals and Kaitlin Yenson and Hanna Hawkins scored twice apiece for the Crusaders, who were outshot 34-18 and had 13 failed clears in 29 attempts. Tusculum also had a 17-10 edge in draw controls and a 22-16 advantage in ground balls over North Greenville in the match.
North Greenville opened the scoring just over three minutes into the first half on a goal by Jillian Chiesa, but Tusculum tied the match 43 seconds later off the stick of Savannah Elliott, and added two goals from Gleason to go up 3-1 with 22:27 left in the first half. Back-to-back goals from Kellogg and Emily Colson tied the score at 3-3 with 17:26 remaining in the half, but the Pioneers responded with four straight goals in a span of just over four minutes. Cusano and Holmes scored to push the Pioneers in front 5-3 with 6:20 to play in the half, then Holmes scored twice in 18 seconds for a 7-3 Tusculum lead. Kellogg scored with 2:20 left in the half as Tusculum carried a 7-4 lead into intermission.
The second half saw an outburst of nine goals in the first 11 minutes, as goals from the Crusaders' Hawkins sandwiched tallies from the Pioneers' Holmes and Cusano as Tusculum maintained its three-goal lead at 9-6 with 24:02 left. A goal from the Pioneers' Eliza Ryan 26 seconds after Hawkins gave the Pioneers a 10-6 lead, but Kellogg and Yenson scored 30 seconds apart to trim the Pioneer edge to 10-8 with 22:43 remaining.
Tusculum answered quickly yet against as Megann McKinney scored 30 seconds after Yenson for an 11-8 Tusculum lead, and the Pioneers tacked on goals from Sierra Haas and Cusano to carry a 13-8 advantage into the final 10 minutes. However, Yenson scored with 9:57 left and Kellogg added her fourth of the afternoon with 6:28 to play to bring the Crusaders back within 13-10. Kellogg scored again with 5:39 to play, and Monica Colwell cut the deficit to 13-12 with 3:53 remaining.
North Greenville won the ensuing draw, but a turnover gave Tusculum the ball back with 3:40 to go. The Pioneers looked to run down the clock, but lost the ball with 2:54 remaining. North Greenville had a shot for the tie, but Tusculum keeper Kaele Lawless, who came on after Kellogg's goal with 5:39 left, made the save on a shot from the Crusaders' Taylor Kennington and the Pioneers were able to run down the clock in their offensive end.
Haas and Elliott each had a goal and an assist for the Pioneers, while Madison Malone had an assist along with four draw controls and a game-high four ground balls. Cusano led all players with seven draw controls for the Pioneers, while Erin Sims had four draw controls and three caused turnovers. For North Greenville, Kellogg, Chiesa and Hawkins had three draw controls apiece and Colwell finished with three caused turnovers. Colwell, Christy Beaman and Candace Petit each had three ground balls for the Crusaders in the match.
Kate Pipkin started in goal for the Pioneers and made three saves in 54 minutes, 21 seconds of playing time. Lawless allowed the 12th goal to the Crusaders but had the one key save in the final 5:39 of action. Crusader goalie Sydney Taylor was busy between the pipes, with 17 saves in the match.
The Pioneers will be back home on Monday to host Concordia-St. Paul in a non-conference match at Pioneer Field, starting at 5 p.m.