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Queens' defense shuts down Pioneers in 12-5 victory

Queens' defense shuts down Pioneers in 12-5 victory

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Queens held Tusculum scoreless for the final 34 minutes, 12 seconds of an 11-5 victory in South Atlantic Conference men's lacrosse action Saturday afternoon at Dickson Field.

Jesse Oliver had two goals and an assist and Kealan Pilon finished with a goal and two assists for the Royals (3-4, 1-2 SAC), who outshot the Pioneers 40-27 and won 18 of the 21 faceoffs in the match. Eric Fitz scored two goals for the Royals, who never trailed and scored all five second-half goals after leading 7-5 at halftime.

Chris Ryan led the Pioneers (3-5, 1-2 SAC) with two goals, while Liam Macdonald had a goal and two assists. Keegan Bell and Dallas Wade also scored for the Pioneers, who were tied with the Royals twice in the first quarter but allowed two goals in the final 30 seconds of the period to fall behind 5-3 after the opening 15 minutes.

The Royals took a 1-0 lead exactly halfway through the first quarter on a goal by Justin Swick, and went ahead 2-0 as Mackenzie Tallant scored with 6:19 remaining in the period. The Pioneers came back as Macdonald and Wade scored just over a minute apart to tie the game at 2-2 with 4:31 left in the quarter.

Oliver pushed the Royals on top 3-2 with three minutes to play in the first, but a man-up goal from Ryan tied the score at 3-3 with 35 seconds left. Queens then scored back-to-back goals off the faceoff from Drew Flack and Griffin Stechmiller to grab a 5-3 lead.

Tusculum moved within 5-4 as Bell scored with 12:24 left in the first half, but Quinn Tallant and Laszlo Henning pushed the Royals in front 7-4 midway through the second quarter. A goal from Ryan pulled the Pioneers within 7-5 with 4:12 remaining in the first half, but that would be the final goal of the half and, for the Pioneers, the game.

In the third quarter, goals from Fitz, Oliver and Pilon extended the Queens lead to 10-5, and Fitz and Reed Murphy scored in the first and last minutes of the fourth quarter, respectively, to close out the Royals' victory.

Flack won 18-of-20 faceoffs for the Royals in the match, and collected a game-high 13 ground balls. Stechmiller had four ground balls for Queens, and Ryon Bellamy finished with two ground balls and a pair of caused turnovers. For the Pioneers, Connor Coleman had four ground balls and two caused turnovers, with Quinn McKitrick finishing with two ground balls and two caused turnovers.

Tusculum finished the match 1-for-2 on the man advantage while successfully killing off their only man-down opportunity. The Pioneers had 18 clears in 22 attempts, while Queens was just 12-for-17 on clears but 9-for-11 in the second half.

Patrick Thomas finished with 15 saves in goal for the Pioneers, while Anthony Valenza had 10 stops for Queens. Thomas has finished in double figures in saves in six of eight games this season for Tusculum.

The Pioneers will return to the road next Saturday with a visit to Newberry for a 4 p.m. SAC match against the Wolves, who are in their first season as a varsity program.

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