GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum broke a 9-9 tie early in the second half and went on to a 16-13 win over Mars Hill in South Atlantic Conference women's lacrosse action Wednesday night at Pioneer Field.
Emily Gleason scored a career-high five goals and Sierra Haas scored all three of her goals in the final 10 minutes as the Pioneers (3-8, 1-2 SAC) won for the third time in four home matches despite having three of their top four scorers on the sidelines. Megann McKinney also scored three goals for the Pioneers, who were outshot 31-29 by the Lions (2-6, 0-3 SAC) but received a season-high 13 saves from freshman goalkeeper Kate Pipkin in their first home game in more than a month.
Olivia Hokanson led the Lions with four goals, with Gabby Gianikos adding two goals and two assists. Kiersten Foust finished with a goal and two assists, and Scout Black and Molly Tobias each had a pair of goals for Mars Hill.
Tusculum dashed to a 5-0 lead in just over seven minutes as Gleason scored twice and McKinney, Bailey Lowery and Eliza Ryan added goals. Mars Hill finally got on the board with 17:55 left in the first half on a goal by Tobias, but Claire Stanton answered to give Tusculum a 6-1 lead. An exchange of goals by Hokanson and Gleason left the Pioneers ahead 7-2 with 2:13 left in the first half, but Black closed out the first half with 1:34 to go as Tusculum took a 7-3 lead to intermission.
The Lions wasted little time in opening the second half in the scoring column, as Gianikos scored just 20 seconds into the half to cut the Pioneer lead to 7-4. Hailey Sanders responded just 22 seconds later for Tusculum, but the Lions rattled off three quick goals to tie the game, the latter two 18 seconds apart by Hokanson, to cut the Pioneer lead to 8-7 with 25:34 left.
A goal from McKinney restored Tusculum's two-goal lead at 9-7 with 23:20 remaining, but Mars Hill fought back to tie the game on goals by Gianikos and Foust, the latter with 22:25 left to force a 9-9 tie. The deadlock would last all of 12 seconds, as McKinney put the Pioneers back on top for good followed by goals from Savannah Elliott and Gleason, the latter with 17:11 to play for a 12-9 Tusculum lead.
Rebecca Dallman helped the Lions cut the margin to 12-10 with 12:26 left, but back-to-back goals from Haas extended the Tusculum advantage to 14-10 with 7:28 remaining. The teams exchanged the final five goals, as tallies from Black, Hokanson were answered by the Pioneers' Gleason and Haas, before Foust capped the scoring with 1:08 left.
In addition to her five goals, which broke her personal best of four goals set three previous times, Gleason had a team-high five draw controls for the Pioneers. Sanders added four draw controls, while Stanton had three along with a pair of caused turnovers. Ryan finished with a game-high three caused turnovers for the Pioneers, and also had a pair of ground balls.
For the Lions, Hokanson led the team with six draw controls with three apiece from Gianikos and Black. Taylor Burgess and Gianikos each had four ground balls, with Burgess, Tobias and Black each recording a pair of caused turnovers.
Mars Hill had a 19-15 advantage in ground balls and committed 19 turnovers to 23 by Tusculum. The Pioneers were 16-for-21 on clears, with the Lions going 16-for-25 including just seven in 15 tries in the first half.
Pipkin's 13 saves surpassed her season best of 10 saves set twice, and came in just 50 minutes, 11 seconds of playing time as Brooke Wagner made three saves and allowed one goal in the second half. Alexandria Holleran finished with 10 saves in goal for the Lions.
Tusculum will return to the road on Saturday at Newberry, with game time at 1 p.m. against the Wolves who are in a four-way tie with the Pioneers, Wingate and Lincoln Memorial at 1-2 in conference matches.