Pioneers close out Florida trip with loss to Saint Leo

Pioneers close out Florida trip with loss to Saint Leo

SAINT LEO, Fla. --- Three scoring runs helped Saint Leo remain undefeated with a 24-7 victory over Tusculum in non-conference women's lacrosse action Wednesday afternoon.

Leslie Ferguson finished with six goals and two assists and Sabrina Sanacore and Kaylah Walstad each had four goals and an assist for the Lions (6-0), who scored seven unanswered goals in the first half, eight straight goals spanning halftime and six consecutive goals in the second half while outshooting the Pioneers (2-6) by a 37-15 margin.

Emily Gleason scored four goals to lead the Pioneers, who were playing their third game in a span of five days during their Florida road trip. The Lions had a 22-10 edge in draw controls over the Pioneers and forced Tusculum into nine failed clears in 16 attempts.

Saint Leo opened the scoring on goals by Walstad and Sanacone 30 seconds apart, but Tusculum cut the deficit in half on a goal by Juliette Cusano with 22:12 remaining in the first half. Ferguson then scored three straight goals in a span of 20:10 to kick off a run of seven goals in a row from the Lions over 9 1/2 minutes.

The run was halted when Gleason scored the first of three unanswered goals of her own over 2:46 of playing time to bring the Pioneers within 9-4 with 5:55 left in the half. However, the Lions scored three goals while playing a man down and fired home five goals in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the half to carry a 14-4 lead into intermission.

Saint Leo extended its run to eight straight goals after Walstad scored twice in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second half, before a goal by Tusculum's Rachel Holmes snapped the surge with 17:38 left. The Lions reeled off six straight goals after Holmes' goal, until Eliza Ryan found the net with 4:54 to play. Gleason's fourth goal of the game with 1:08 remaining closed out the scoring for both teams in the match.

Madison Malone, who had an assist for the Pioneers to extend her streak of consecutive games with a point to 53, led the Pioneers with four draw controls and three caused turnovers while also collecting a pair of ground balls. Cusano had a team-high three ground balls, three draw controls and two caused turnovers, and Christen Craig finished with three ground balls for the Pioneers.

For Saint Leo, Sarah Pierson had 10 draw controls along with a goal and an assist, with five ground balls and four caused turnovers by Walstad and three ground balls by Ferguson. Katherine Larson had two goals and an assist and four draw controls, with five draw controls by Delaney Chrisco along with a goal and an assist.

Tusculum goalie Kate Pipkin played 39 minutes, 32 seconds and finished with 10 saves. Three goalies saw time for the Lions, with starter Erin Davis making four saves in the first half and Rebecca Halley (two saves) and Emma Crafton (one save) seeing time in the second half.

The Pioneers will prepare for their South Atlantic Conference opener on Sunday, March 18 at Lenoir-Rhyne.