GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Following a 14-8 victory at Barton in the season opener on Saturday, the Tusculum University men's lacrosse team will gear up for two matches in a span of four days. The Pioneers will travel to number-one ranked Limestone on Friday at 7 p.m., then host Maryville (Missouri) on Monday at 1 p.m. in the home opener at Pioneer Field.
Tusculum (1-0) earned its first victory in a season opener since the program's inaugural season of 2014 when the Pioneers beat Barton on Saturday. The 14 goals is the most-ever scored by the Pioneers in a season opener, while the eight goals allowed is the fewest ever given up to start a season.
The Pioneers are 1-17 all-time against ranked opponents, including 0-8 against teams ranked in the USILA Top 10. Tusculum's only win against a ranked team was their 11-10 double-overtime win against 16th-ranked Catawba in the final game of the 2019 regular season on April 20, 2019.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
AJ Hems scored four of his career-high five goals in the first half as the Pioneers won 14-8 at Barton on Saturday. Tusculum led 6-3 at halftime, and scored three times early in the second half to build their lead to as many as nine goals.
Nate Raymond had two goals and an assist for the Pioneers, while Jordan Daniel had a goal and two assists as the Pioneers outshot the Bulldogs by a margin of 43-33. Tusculum had nine different players score goals in the win, while Ross Geiger had four saves in goal.
Limestone (1-0), which finished as the NCAA Division II runner-up last season, beat Lees-McRae 25-11 in their season opener last Friday at Saints Field. Larson Sundown scored six goals and Taz DeLaney and Grant Rodgers scored three goals apiece for the Saints, who outshot the Bobcats 34-25 and won 32 of the 39 faceoffs in the match.
Sundown earned Conference Carolinas Player of the Year honors and was an All-American as led the Saints with 70 goals and 40 assists for school-record 110 points last season. Tyler Papa was All-American after scoring 54 goals and 23 assists for 77 points, and Clark Walter also took All-America honors with 53 goals and 14 assists for 67 points.
Limestone is 4-0 all-time against Tusculum, winning 17-6 in their last previous meeting in Gaffney on March 7, 2018. Friday's match will be the second time that the Pioneers have played the Saints when ranked number one, with the other contest a 16-5 Limestone win on Feb. 6, 2016 at Pioneer Field. Limestone has been ranked in each of the four previous matchups, including 14th when the Saints won 22-2 at Pioneer Field in the 2019 season opener.
Maryville (0-1) lost its season opener to Florida Tech 11-8 on Monday at home in St. Louis. Jai Benson scored three goals and an assist and Jacob Allen had two goals and two assists for the Saints. Florida Tech dominated on faceoffs, winning 20-of-22 in the match and all nine in the second half.
A fourth-year program, Maryville went 9-6 last season after combining for six victories in its first two years. Jayden Fraser ranks second in program history in career goals (41) and points (69), while goalkeeper William DeVinney is in his third year as a starter for the Saints.
Monday's match will be the first-ever meeting between Tusculum and Maryville, who will play Lincoln Memorial on Saturday before coming to Greeneville to face the Pioneers on Monday. The Saints will return to the region for games at Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday, Feb. 28 and at Catawba on Sunday, March 1.
FOLLOW THE GAMES
Live video and live stats links for the matches with Limestone and Maryville are available at www.TusculumPioneers.com.