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Cusano scores winning goal in 16-15 victory over Young Harris

Cusano scores winning goal in 16-15 victory over Young Harris

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Juliette Cusano scored the winning goal with 1:25 left as Tusculum University defeated Young Harris College 16-15 in non-conference women's lacrosse action Sunday at Pioneer Field.

Cusano's fifth goal of the match settled a back-and-forth contest that featured seven ties and saw each team give up a three-goal lead. The Pioneers (2-1) trailed 12-9 midway through the second half before tying the game at 13-13 with 9:05 to go. The Mountain Lions (1-2) scored twice in a span of 42 seconds to tie the game with 2:22 left, but would not have possession again until the final seconds.

Cusano and Tia Tuininga each scored five goals to lead the Pioneers, while Anna Luckie led the Mountain Lions with four goals and four assists and Taylor Greenberg chipped in with four goals. Young Harris outshot Tusculum 34-32 in the match, but the Pioneers won 18 draws to 14 by the Mountain Lions. Kylie Marek won each of the last two draws for Tusculum, finishing the game with seven to match Cusano for the team lead.

Young Harris opened the scoring on a goal by Leigh Anne Turner just 1:28 into the first half, but Tuininga tied the game just over four minutes later to spark a four-goal run by the Pioneers. Goals from Cusano, Tuininga and Britany Lowery gave Tusculum a 4-1 lead with 16:29 left in the half, and the score would remain there until Greenberg scored with 5:42 left in the half. That goal would spark a 3-0 run over a two-minute span to boost the Mountain Lions into a 4-4 tie on a Greenberg goal with 3:54 remaining. Tuininga's third of the half sent the Pioneers to intermission with a 6-5 lead.

Goals from Marek and Megann McKinney sandwiched a Greenberg tally as Tusculum led 7-5 with 26:28 remaining. The Mountain Lions tied the game with 24:56 left on a goal by Turner, with goals from Tuininga and Cusano answered by Luckie and Mary Deatrick for a 9-9 deadlock with 19:11 to go. Deatrick's tying goal was followed by goals from Greenberg and Deatrick again in a span of 33 seconds as the Mountain Lions went up 11-9 with 18:38 to go. Luckie made it 12-9 Young Harris with 15:37 to play, but Tuininga and Cusano teamed up to pull the Pioneers back within 12-11 with 12:42 left. A goal from Turner gave Young Harris a 13-11 lead with 12:15 left, but the Mountain Lions would go scoreless for over nine minutes as McKinney and Cusano scored back-to-back to tie the game at 13-13 with 9:05 to go.

Emily Youngblood gave the Pioneers the lead back at 14-13 with 8:34 left, and Tusculum added an unusual goal with 5:00 to play as the ball was knocked out of Tuininga's stick and was scooped up by Young Harris keeper Rachel Robb. As Robb swung around after collecting the ball, it rolled out of the netting and into the goal to give Tusculum a 15-13 advantage. Luckie scored on a free-position shot with 3:04 left and Channing Milford came through with Tusculum down a player on a yellow card violation with 2:22 remaining. Marek would win the ensuing draw control and Cusano scored on a drive to the goal with 1:25 left. Marek then won the next draw and the Pioneers ran the clock until the final seconds, leaving Young Harris no time for a potential tying shot.

Eliza Ryan led the Pioneers with five ground balls and two caused turnovers, with four ground balls from Hailey Sanders. Tuininga had three draw controls and two caused turnovers for the Pioneers, who caused nine of the Mountain Lions' 17 turnovers in the match. For Young Harris, Gwenyth Gibbons and Sarah Beckwith led field players with three ground balls each, with Milford collecting a team-high seven draw controls and Aubrie Valvo earning a pair of caused turnovers.

Tusculum was 17-for-25 on clears and Young Harris went 14-for-17 on clears, but just 4-for-7 in the second half. Tusculum had 20 fouls to 14 for Young Harris, while each team had three free-position goals.

Kate Pipkin played all 60 minutes in goal for the Pioneers and finished with 12 saves. For Young Harris, Maddy Meyers played the first half and made three saves, with Rachel Robb playing most of the second half and collecting five saves.

The Pioneers will host Belmont Abbey on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Pioneer Field. The Crusaders (3-2) have won three in a row since opening the season with losses to South Atlantic Conference powers Lenoir-Rhyne (20-15) and Queens (23-7).

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