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Pioneers defeat Queens 12-9 to move into 2nd place in SAC

Pioneers defeat Queens 12-9 to move into 2nd place in SAC

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum held Queens scoreless in eight man-up opportunities as the Pioneers defeated the Royals 12-9 in South Atlantic Conference men's lacrosse action Saturday at Pioneer Field.

Tyler Klarner had four goals for the Pioneers (8-2, 4-1 SAC) while Chris Ryan and Ben Boyd each had three goals and an assists as Tusculum remained unbeaten at home this season at 6-0 and guaranteed a winning record for the season.

The Royals (6-4, 4-2 SAC) outshot the Pioneers 44-35 but were held to just two goals in the second half as Tusculum took the lead for good late in the second quarter. Justin Swick and Laszlo Henning paced Queens with two goals apiece in the match.

Klarner scored three goals in the first half as Tusculum led 7-6 at the half, and Boyd added a pair of second-half goals and an assist as the Pioneers defeated the Royals for the first time in four all-time meetings between the schools.

After Tusculum killed off a pair of penalties in the opening three minutes, the Pioneers opened the scoring as Ryan connected off a feed from Dallas Wade for a 1-0 lead with 10:55 left in the first quarter. Queens came back to go on top 2-1 on goals by Allen Curtiss and Henning, but Ross Parsons knotted the score at 2-2 with 6:53 left in the quarter.

The Royals went back ahead 3-2 as Duncan Smith scored less than a minute after Parsons' goal, but the Pioneers struck for two goals in 80 seconds as Boyd and Klarner combined to put the Pioneers back ahead 4-3 with 2:58 left in the quarter. Henning concluded the high-scoring quarter by netting his second with 2:22 left to knot the score at 4-4.

Queens regained the lead at 5-4 on a goal by Griffin Stechmiller with 11:26 to go in the half, but Klarner scored his second of the day to level the score at 5-5. After Reed Murphy gave the Royals a 6-5 lead with 7:58 remaining in the half, the Pioneers struck for three goals in a row over a three-minute stretch.

Keegan Bell tied the game at 6-6, followed by goals from Klarner and Ryan just 52 seconds apart to give the Pioneers an 8-6 lead with 4:04 remaining in the half. Queens got one back just before halftime as Swick scored with 25 seconds left to pull the Royals within 8-7.

Tusculum scored both goals of the third quarter, and they came 45 seconds apart midway through the period. Boyd scored with 7:44 left for a 9-7 Pioneer lead, and Klarner netted his third of the day on the man advantage with 6:59 to play as Tusculum carried a 10-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Queens scored a man-down goal from Zac Bruso with 13:16 left to cut the deficit to 10-8, but Boyd got the goal back just over a minute later as Tusculum went ahead 11-8. The Pioneers then killed off back-to-back penalties totaling 90 seconds in length, including a sensational stick save by goalkeeper Kevin Haggerty on a shot from the far side.

Ryan gave the Pioneers insurance with his third of the day with 5:35 left, and Swick closed out the scoring on a rebound goal with 54 seconds remaining.

Queens won 16 of the 24 faceoffs in the game, but was edged out in total ground balls by Tusculum 29-23. The Royals turned the ball over 18 times, nine in each half, while the Pioneers had 14 miscues in the contest.

Parsons led the Pioneers with five ground balls and had three caused turnovers, while Quinn McKitrick had four caused turnovers to lead all players. Liam Macdonald had three ground balls along with a pair of assists, and Joel Edgar also had three ground balls for the Pioneers.

Jonathan Paige led all players with 12 ground balls for the Royals, going 15-for-22 on faceoffs in the game. Stechmiller and Smith each had a pair of caused turnovers, with Stechmiller finishing with three ground balls to go along with a goal and an assist.

Tusculum, which entered the day with the top man-up offense in Division II at 56.3 percent, went 1-for-5 with the extra man against Queens. The Pioneers were just 18-for-24 on clear attempts overall in the game, but a perfect 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter.

Haggerty finished with 14 saves in goal for the Pioneers, including eight on 20 shots against in the second half with just two goals allowed. His 14 saves were two shy of his season high, and mark the third time in the last four games that he has reached double figures.

Anthony Caruso started in goal for Queens and had five saves in the first half before giving way to Anthony Valenza, who made eight stops in the second half for the Royals.

Tusculum, which is in sole possession of second place in the SAC and a game behind first-place Lenoir-Rhyne, will be on the road Sunday, April 9 at Coker for a SAC match beginning at 2 p.m.

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