GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Wingate scored the final four goals, including the game-winner with 2:46 left, as the 14th-ranked Bulldogs stunned 19th-ranked Tusculum 10-9 in South Atlantic Conference men's lacrosse action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
The Pioneers (10-3, 6-2 SAC) led 9-6 after a goal by Nate Wade in the first minute of the fourth quarter, but that would be the final goal of the game for Tusculum as Wingate scored three goals in just under four minutes to tie the game at 9-9.
Alex Llerandi gave the Bulldogs the lead for good with 2:46 left, and Wingate survived a flurry in front of its goal in the final seconds to escape with the win. The loss snaps a five-match winning streak for the Pioneers, whose three losses this season have come to ranked opponents including a pair of one-goal defeats.
The victory gives Wingate the number-two seed in the upcoming SAC Championship tournament, while Tusculum will be the third seed and host sixth-seeded Lincoln Memorial Tuesday night at Pioneer Field in a quarterfinal matchup. The winner will face Wingate Thursday in the semifinals in Charlotte.
Ryan Vogrig led Wingate with four goals, while Jeremy Sullivan and Ryan Ormerod had two goals apiece. Wade was the only Pioneer to score more than one goal as he netted a pair, while Ben Boyd had a goal and two assists and Tyler Klarner and Andrew Kransberger each had a goal and an assist for Tusculum.
The Pioneers took a 1-0 lead with 13:16 left in the first quarter on a goal by Chris Ryan, which was his 100th career point. Vogrig scored about 2 1/2 minutes later to tie the score at 1-1, but goals from Ross Parsons and Liam Macdonald gave the Pioneers a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Kransberger scored with 11:56 left in the first half to push the Pioneer lead to 4-1, but Vogrig and Sullivan answered for the Bulldogs as they pulled within 4-3 with 8:38 to play in the quarter. Boyd responded 24 seconds after Sullivan's goal to give the Pioneers a 5-3 lead, which they carried all the way to halftime.
A goal from Klarner extended the Pioneer lead to 6-3 with 11:43 left in the third quarter, but Ormerod and Daniel Godwin tallied two minutes apart to bring the Bulldogs back within 6-5 with 4:48 to play in the quarter. The Pioneers' lead went back to three after goals from Cam Rogers and Wade, but Vogrig tallied with 25 seconds remaining in the period to cut the margin to 8-6 heading into the final 15 minutes.
After Wade gave the Pioneers a 9-6 lead with 14:13 left, Tusculum kept Wingate off the board for the next five minutes before Sullivan converted off a turnover to bring Wingate back within 9-7. Another turnover set up Vogrig for his fourth goal of the game with 7:46 remaining which pulled the Bulldogs to within 9-8, and Ormerod netted the equalizer with 5:29 to play.
Llerandi's goal with 2:46 left off another Tusculum turnover gave Wingate the 10-9 lead, but the Pioneers would control possession for the rest of the game. The Pioneers had three shots in the final 75 seconds, including one from Ryan in the closing seconds that was stopped by Bulldog goalkeeper Will Sheridan just before time expired.
Wingate finished the game with a 35-29 advantage in shots over Tusculum along with a 26-23 edge in ground balls. The Pioneers won 13 faceoffs to 10 by the Bulldogs, while both teams were 0-for-1 with the extra man. Tusculum finished with 12 turnovers in the game, including eight in the second half, while Wingate had eight turnovers in the match.
Kransberger and Joel Edgar shared the team high with six ground balls for the Pioneers, with Alexander Kleinberg winning 13-of-22 faceoffs and collecting four ground balls. For Wingate, Vogrig, Drew Thompson and Wyatt Weiseman had three ground balls apiece along with Austin Murphy.
Kevin Haggerty finished with 12 saves in goal for the Pioneers, making seven stops in the second half, while Sheridan had seven of his 10 saves after halftime for the Bulldogs.
Tusculum and Lincoln Memorial have met three times, with the road team winning each meeting. All three meetings have been decided by one goal, including a 13-12 Tusculum win in Harrogate on March 29 on an overtime goal by Dallas Wade.