GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Wingate rallied from deficits in both the first and second halves to defeat Tusculum 17-14 in South Atlantic Conference women's lacrosse action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
The Bulldogs (4-11, 3-3 SAC) trailed 6-2 in the first half before taking the lead early in the second half, then overcame a 10-8 Pioneer lead with eight consecutive goals before holding off a late surge by the Pioneers (6-9, 4-3 SAC), who had their four-game winning streak come to an end.
Kendall Wells and Nina Cifolilli led the Bulldogs with four goals apiece, while Emily Ketron and Ellie Gottschalk had three goals apiece. Joanna King dished out a game-high five assists for Wingate, with four coming during the Bulldogs' 8-0 second-half run.
Madison Malone tied her single-game career high with five goals to lead the Pioneers, with three goals from Savannah Elliott and two apiece from Erin Sims, Juliette Cusano and Megann McKinney. The Pioneers outshot the Bulldogs 34-32 in the game, but were held scoreless for more than 16 minutes after Elliott gave Tusculum a 10-8 lead with 21:39 to go.
Tusculum opened the scoring on a goal by McKinney with 1:26 gone in the first half, but Gottschalk tied the score just 30 seconds later. The Pioneers went ahead 4-1 as Cusano, Elliott and Malone scored in a 3 1/2 minute span, but Ketron responded 24 seconds after Malone's goal to leave Tusculum ahead 4-2 with 21:45 left in the first half. Sims put the Pioneers up 5-2 30 seconds after Ketron's goal, and Malone gave the Pioneers their largest lead of the day at 6-2 with 19:44 to play in the half.
Wingate closed the half by scoring five of the final six goals, including a pair from Cifolilli which brought the Bulldogs with 6-4 with 16:55 left in the half. Malone scored to give Tusculum a 7-4 lead with 14:15 remaining, but it would be the Pioneers' last goal of the half as Ketron, Morgan Akers and Wells scored in a span of nearly 3 1/2 minutes, with the equalizer from Wells coming with 9:12 left in the half to tie the game at 7-7.
Gottschalk gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 8-7 with 25:21 to play, but the Pioneers scored twice in 25 seconds as Malone and Elliott combined to put Tusculum back on top 9-8 with 23:31 to go. Elliott then scored on a highlight-reel behind-the-back goal off a Malone feed to push the Pioneers ahead 10-8 with 21:39 to go. Cifolilli cut the margin to 10-9 with 20:33 remaining and Casey Roux tied the score at 10-10 with 18:51 remaining. The run continued as Wells scored twice in just over a minute, followed by goals from Cifolilli, Ketron and Akers which gave Wingate a 15-10 lead with 10:12 to go.
Wingate capped the run as Wells scored her fourth goal of the game with 5:42 remaining for a 16-10 Bulldogs lead, but the Pioneers surged back as McKinney and Cusano scored 18 seconds apart to cut the margin to 16-12. Sims and Malone then scored 32 seconds apart as the Pioneers pulled within 16-14 with 3:10 remaining, but a free-position goal by Gottschalk capped the scoring with 1:52 remaining.
Hailey Sanders led the Tusculum defense with three ground balls, while Cusano had two ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers to go along with a team-high six draw controls. Rachel Holmes contributed a pair of ground balls and three draw controls, with Shelby Gray leading the team with three caused turnovers.
Wingate was led by Roux who had three ground balls and two draw controls, with Sierra Street leading all players with seven draw controls to go along with a pair of caused turnovers. Ketron had six draw controls and two ground balls for Wingate, which finished with a slim 17-16 edge in draw controls.
Brooke Wagner started in goal for the Pioneers and played a total of 27 minutes, 37 seconds across two stints in goal, finishing with two saves, while Kate Pipkin had six saves in 32 minutes, 23 seconds of relief. Arion Pierre played the first 38 minutes, 21 seconds in goal for the Bulldogs and made six saves before yielding to Marley Blycher, who had six saves in the final 21 minutes, 39 seconds and earned the victory.
Tusculum will close its regular season on the road on Saturday, April 21 at Catawba beginning at 4 p.m.