Pioneers eliminated by Lenoir-Rhyne, 1-0 in SAC quarterfinals

Pioneers eliminated by Lenoir-Rhyne, 1-0 in SAC quarterfinals

HICKORY, N.C. --- Hannah Van Eerden scored with 14:03 remaining to give Lenoir-Rhyne University a 1-0 victory over Tusculum University in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Women's Soccer Championship Tuesday afternoon.

Van Eerden's goal lifted the third-seeded Bears (11-5-1) into the semifinals on Friday against second-seeded Lincoln Memorial, which will be played at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

The sixth-seeded Pioneers (8-7-3) were outshot 24-4 by the Bears and were unable to put a shot on goal against Lenoir-Rhyne keeper Loren Sterling, who earned her sixth shutout of the season in a rematch of last year's SAC quarterfinal between the teams, which saw the Pioneers advance on penalty kicks.

Hannah Graham kept Tusculum in the match by making nine saves, including a penalty kick early in the second half. Lenoir-Rhyne also had a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks over Tusculum in the match, and had 12 shots in each half.

Lenoir-Rhyne had the first five shot attempts of the match, but three were blocked by the Tusculum defense and just one went on goal, off the foot of Abbie Brown in the 14th minute. Tusculum's first shot attempt came in the 17th minute when Jordan Newby directed a header over the frame.

Graham stood tall for the Pioneers during a 90-second sequence late in the half, that saw her make saves on the Bears' Judith Verdaguer, Stephanie Figueiredo and Van Eerden. The Bears had a total of seven shots in the final 8 1/2 minutes of the half along with four corner kicks, but were kept off the scoreboard.

In the second half, the Bears were awarded a penalty kick 4 1/2 minutes into the half, but Graham made the save on Abigael McGarel to keep the match scorless. Graham would add three more saves over a three-minute stretch, including two on Brown, as the match remained tied into the 75th minute.

With just over 14 minutes left, McGarel crossed to Van Eerden, who shot into the right corner for her fifth goal of the season and a 1-0 Lenoir-Rhyne lead. Tusculum tried to battle back, but the final shot attempt by the Pioneers was blocked with just over nine minutes remaining.

Despite the loss, Tusculum finishes with an eighth consecutive winning season and a 20th straight year at .500 or better.