Pioneers facing must-win scenario against Carson-Newman

Pioneers facing must-win scenario against Carson-Newman

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The math is simple for the Tusculum University women's soccer team heading into its final regular-season match against Carson-Newman University on Wednesday at Pioneer Field.

If the Pioneers (7-9-0, 3-6-0 South Atlantic Conference) are able to defeat their rivals, Tusculum will clinch a berth in the upcoming SAC Women's Soccer Championship tournament, which begins on Saturday. If the Pioneers and Eagles play to a draw, or if Carson-Newman takes the victory, then the Pioneers' season will come to a premature conclusion.

The match begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Pioneer Field. The SAC Championship tournament starts Saturday with quarterfinal matchups hosted by the top four finishers in the league standings, which will be Lenoir-Rhyne, Wingate, Catawba and Carson-Newman in an order to be determined by Wednesday's results.

The Pioneers got an early start to their weekend schedule with a trip across the mountain to face Mars Hill on Friday evening. The host Lions struck twice early in the second half to take a 2-0 lead, but the Pioneers stormed back to tie the match on goals by Yvette Raaijen and Tina Haig. However, the Lions scored with just 1:25 left to claim the 3-2 win and leave Tusculum needing a victory over Carson-Newman to qualify for the SAC Championship tournament.

Tusculum outshot Mars Hill 21-14 in the match and had a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks over Mars Hill. Danielle Breen finished with two saves for the Pioneers, while the Lions' two keepers had six saves apiece while splitting time in goal.

Carson-Newman (9-5-1, 6-2-1 SAC) had a four-match unbeaten streak end on Saturday, as Wingate scored the winning goal with 5:10 left for a 2-1 road victory. The Eagles' lone goal came from Sydney Spadafora in the 70th minute after the Bulldogs had gone up 1-0 in the 59th minute. Jasmine Rizk had eight saves in goal for the Eagles in the loss.

The Eagles are 3-0-1 on the road in conference matches this season, outscoring their opponents by an 8-2 margin in those four contests. Emilee Futrell, a second-team All-SAC performer last season, leads the Eagles with seven goals and 16 points in 14 matches so far this season as 10 different Eagles have scored at least one goal. Rizk has started all 15 matches in goal and is fifth in the SAC in goals against average at 0.95 and second in save percentage at .825.

Tusculum leads the all-time series with Carson-Newman by a 19-17-2 margin, including a 2-1 win on the road last year which snapped the Eagles' streak of 18 straight SAC regular season matches at home without a loss. Carson-Newman has been nationally-ranked in its last two visits to Pioneer Field, winning 4-2 in 2015 and 3-0 in 2017.

Raaijen and Haig share the team lead in goals with four for the Pioneers this season. Raaijen's four goals have come on a total of five shots on goal, of which three were penalty kicks. The three penalty kick goals by Raaijen are tied for second in the SAC behind the six converted by Abigael McGarel of Lenoir-Rhyne.

In goal, Breen ranks seventh in the SAC in save percentage at .786 and tenth in goals against averaged with a 1.59 mark. Her three solo shutouts are seventh-best in the conference.

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