GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's soccer team opened its South Atlantic Conference schedule Wednesday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Queens University of Charlotte at Pioneer Field.
Kate Guildford scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second half for the Pioneers (2-2-1, 1-0-0 SAC), who were outshot 18-8 by the Royals but scored on each of their first two shots on goal in the match.
Elise Gallo also scored for the Pioneers, who were led by goalkeeper Hannah Graham's eight saves in the match. The only goal for the Royals (3-2-0, 0-1-0 SAC) came from Eirinn McCafferty in the 24th minute as Graham had four saves in each half.
Queens had the first chance just 35 seconds into the match as a shot from Lulu Phan was stopped by Graham. Naomi Matthusen also was denied by Graham in the seventh minute and in the 13th minute, the latter stop on a dive by Graham following a turnover about 20 yards from goal.
The Royals grabbed a 1-0 lead at 23:05 as McCafferty took a pass from Emma Rose Stockton near the corner and played a shot from 20 yards out that bounced in front of Graham and skipped into the goal. Queens nearly scored again less than two minutes later, but an offsides flag negated what would have been a goal from close range.
After each of its first three shot attempts went off target, Tusculum put a shot on goal and a goal on the board at 40:33 as Carly Mill sent a through pass to Gallo, who blasted a shot past Queens keeper Rachel Quest from 30 yards for her first goal of the season and a 1-1 tie.
The Pioneers nearly took the lead just before halftime, but a shot from Sonja Ballmert sailed just over the crossbar with 19 seconds remaining. Queens outshot Tusculum 9-5 in the first half.
In the second half, the Pioneers needed less than five minutes to gain the lead as quick passes from Ballmert and Nicole McMillen set up Guildford, who turned and chipped a shot over Quest from 20 yards for her first goal of the year and a 2-1 Tusculum lead at 49:33.
Trailing for the first time, the Royals looked for the equalizer but Graham made a lunging save to her left on a try toward the far post by Charlotte Ring in the 67th minute. The Pioneers nearly cashed in an insurance goal on a corner kick, but a header from Kenzie Ellenburg was cleared at the post by the Royals' McKenzee Johnson with 18:25 to go.
Graham made another save on Phan in the 79th minute, and the Pioneers looked ready to clamp down on the victory. However, the Royals' Summer Bishop collected a service at the corner of the box, made a move and tried to go far post behind Graham. Ellenburg was on the spot for the Pioneers as she dropped back behind Graham and sent the shot out of danger with 2:56 left.
Queens had a pair of corner kicks in the final minute, but were unable to organize their attack and the Tusculum defense sent the final effort down the field as time ran out.
Phan led all players with five shot attempts for the Royals, while Matthusen and Stockton had four apiece. Queens had nine shots in each half, putting five on target in the first half and six in the second half.
Tusculum was whistled for 14 fouls in the match to nine for Queens, and the Pioneers were shown the only two cautions. Each team was flagged twice for offsides, while the Pioneers had a 4-3 edge in corner kicks despite the late flurry from the Royals.
With the Pioneers' scheduled home game Sunday against Lenoir-Rhyne rescheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 26, Tusculum will play its next contest on Wednesday, Sept. 19 with a non-conference match at Lees-McRae.