LMU breaks second-half tie, beats Pioneers 3-1

LMU breaks second-half tie, beats Pioneers 3-1

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Two goals in the final 26 minutes gave Lincoln Memorial University a 3-1 victory over Tusculum University in South Atlantic Conference women's soccer action Wednesday at Pioneer Field.

Rachel Taylor scored the go-ahead goal in the 65th minute and Ermelinda Pantaleao added an insurance goal eight minutes later for the Railsplitters (9-3-0, 3-3-0 SAC), who outshot the Pioneers (6-7-0, 2-4-0 SAC) by a 28-5 margin in the match.

Jamila Thombs scored to tie the match in the 61st minute for the Pioneers, who received a career-high 11 saves for reigning SAC Defensive Player of the Week Danielle Breen just three days after she established her previous high of 10 saves in a 1-0 win over Wingate.

Lincoln Memorial had the first five shots of the match against the Tusculum defense, scoring on the fifth shot in the 22nd minute. Thenia Zervas converted a blast from 20 yards to the upper right corner past Breen for a 1-0 Railsplitters lead with 23:20 left in the first half.

The Pioneers' first shot came in the 26th minute as Thombs took a blast from a sharp angle that was grabbed by LMU keeper Emanuely Costa. Breen made a strong save on the Railsplitters' Itzel Ballesteros as she kicked away a strike to the short side in the 28th minute.

Ballesteros shot just high of the crossbar from 20 yards in the 32nd minute, and Breen made perhaps her best save of the match in the 37th minute as she dived to her left to deny the Railsplitters' Jessica Cravero from 10 yards. Lincoln Memorial took the 1-0 lead to halftime with an 11-3 edge in shots over Tusculum.

Breen made three saves on Ballesteros in a 60-second span early in the second half, include a shot and rebound attempt with 33 minutes to play. Ballesteros had seven shot attempts in the match for LMU, while Cravero had a team-high nine.

Tusculum leveled the score in the 61st minute as a clearing attempt in the back end was blocked by the Pioneers, and Thombs outmuscled the LMU defender to the loose ball. Thombs then took a quick shot to the short side that went past Costa for her second goal of the year and a 1-1 tie with 29:18 left.

Lincoln Memorial came back to regain the lead about 3 1/2 minutes later as a shot from a sharp angle by Cravero was saved by Breen, but came to Taylor who scored her seventh of the season for a 2-1 Railsplitters lead with 25:49 remaining. Taylor nearly extended the LMU lead in the 72nd minute as she was the surprise shooter out of a free kick huddle and fired the ball off the right post from the top of the box.

In the 73rd minute, the Railsplitters gained some insurance as a corner kick by Zervas was headed by Pantaleao in the box. The ball hit the lower part of the crossbar and was grabbed by Breen as she came back toward her line, but the goal was awarded and LMU led 3-1 with 27:43 left.

Breen had four more saves for the Pioneers over the final 20 minutes, including one on Taylor that was knocked over the crossbar from 20 yards away. Meanwhile, the LMU defense did not allow a shot attempt by the Pioneers after Thombs' goal, a span of nearly 30 minutes.

Costa finished the match with one save for the Railsplitters, who also had a 7-3 edge in corner kicks over the Pioneers. Each team was called for six fouls and neither squad was flagged for offsides.

Tusculum will return to the road on Saturday with a SAC match at Catawba starting at 5:30 p.m.