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Mars Hill defeats Pioneers in double overtime, 2-1

Mars Hill defeats Pioneers in double overtime, 2-1

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Paige Thompson scored with 6:46 left in the second overtime period to give Mars Hill University a 2-1 victory over Tusculum University in South Atlantic Conference women's soccer action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.

Thompson took a short pass from Sanne Martinsen and chipped her first goal of the season to the far post for the Lions (3-10-0, 2-6-0 SAC), who tied the game on a goal by Martinsen with 3:36 left in regulation.

Sonja Ballmert scored early in the second half for the Pioneers (7-5-3, 4-3-2 SAC), who were playing their third consecutive overtime game and fourth in the last five matches. Tusculum outshot Mars Hill 15-9 in the match, including 11-3 after halftime.

The Pioneers nearly took the lead in the opening minute as Kaitlyn Watson's shot from close range was stopped by a sprawling Clare Witt in the Mars Hill goal. In the third minute, a header off a corner kick by Tusculum's Kenzie Ellenburg was cleared from the post by the Lions' Kanani Thomas to keep the match scoreless.

Mars Hill's first shot came in the 22nd minute as the Pioneers' Hannah Graham made a save on Martinsen. Graham made saves off free kicks from the Lions' Martinsen in the 25th minute and Leah Hairfield in the 26th minute, then stopped Hairfield on a blast from 30 yards in the 34th minute.

Mars Hill outshot Tusculum 5-4 in the first half, with the final shot coming in the 36th minute from Elise Podsiad that Graham stopped on a dive through a screen.

In the second half, the Pioneers grabbed a 1-0 lead at 51:07 as Nicole McMillen served the ball from the left side into the box, where Sonja Ballmert volleyed home her fourth goal of the season past Lions' substitute keeper Tonje Jorgensen.

The Lions came back a minute later as Hairfield had a shot toward the top corner that was deflected away by Graham. Watson had a chance for the Pioneers in the 59th minute, but Jorgensen came out to smother the shot from 10 yards out.

In the 66th minute, the Lions' Thompson had an attempt from 15 yards away that was covered by Graham to preserve Tusculum's 1-0 lead. The Pioneers nearly got an insurance goal with just under 15 minutes to play, but Ellie Tomassoni's attempt just missed the left post.

The Tusculum defense had not allowed a shot for more than 20 minutes when Martinsen saved a loose ball at the end line near the right corner and sent a cross toward the front of the goal that caromed off Graham's hands and behind her. Martinsen's seventh goal of the year sent the game to overtime tied 1-1.

Tusculum had all four shot attempts in the first overtime period, with Jorgensen making a save on Watson in the opening minutes. In the second extra period, it was Martinsen who set up Thompson for her first goal of the season and the Lions' victory.

The Pioneers finished the game with a 7-1 edge in corner kicks and were called for 14 fouls to eight by the Lions. Tusculum was also flagged four times for offsides to one by Mars Hill.

Graham made seven saves in goal for the Pioneers, while Witt had one stop in the first half and Jorgensen had five in the second half for the Lions.

Tusculum will head to the road for the final week of the regular season, beginning Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Columbus State.

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