Pioneers earn 13th straight conference tournament bid
ROCK HILL, S.C. --- The Tusculum College women's soccer team will travel to Anderson University for a Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Tournament quarterfinal match Tuesday at 1 p.m.
The Pioneers (10-7-1, 5-4-0 SAC) are seeded fifth in the eight-team field while the Trojans (9-9-0, 5-4-0 SAC) earned the fourth seed. Newberry also finished 5-4 to join Tusculum and Anderson in a three-way tie in the final SAC standings, but the Wolves earned the third seed by virtue of their win over sixth-seeded Lincoln Memorial – which defeated both Anderson and Tusculum in the regular season. In the head-to-head tiebreaker for fourth place, Anderson gained the nod via their 1-0 double-overtime victory over Tusculum on Oct. 15.
Tusculum will be making its 13th straight appearance in the Food Lion SAC Tournament, a streak extending to the Pioneers' first year of eligibility for the league playoffs in 1999. The Pioneers have an impressive 10-2 record in conference quarterfinal matches, including a 1-0 road overtime victory at Carson-Newman last season.
Other than a five-game winning streak from Sept. 21 through Oct. 8, the Pioneers have scuffled to find consistency throughout the season. The Pioneers alternated wins and losses for their first six matches, including losses to nationally-ranked Columbus State (2-1) and Armstrong Atlantic State (5-1). The win streak came to an abrupt end with a 5-0 loss at Wingate on Oct. 11, a setback that led to four straight winless matches including two double-overtime losses and a tie.
Junior Tramicka James stepped to the forefront in wins over Catawba and Carson-Newman, scoring the game-winner with 18 seconds left in a 2-1 win over the Indians and netting her 100th career point with an assist in a 3-0 win at Carson Newman. Tusculum nearly pulled off a huge upset in their regular-season finale, taking a 1-0 lead into the second half against fifth-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne before the Bears scored two quick tallies to escape with a 2-1 win.
Pioneer head coach Mike Joy also reached a milestone in his squad's victory over Carson-Newman, collecting his 200th victory as head coach at Tusculum in a 15-year career at the school. Joy has a 200-91-20 record with the Pioneers and a 286-116-25 mark in 20 years as a collegiate head coach.
James has lived up to the focus placed on her entering her junior season, leading the SAC and ranking among the NCAA Division II leaders in goals (15) and points (34). In her 60-match career, James has netted 43 goals and dished out 16 assists for 102 points to rank third on the Pioneer career scoring list.
Support for James in the offensive department has come from junior Kim Brown, who has scored six goals, and senior Michelle Meade who has four goals and a pair of assists for 10 points. Sophomore Amy Neltner has stepped forward in the closing stages of the season, collecting a goal and two assists for four points in 18 matches.
The Pioneer midfield is led by freshman Jana Linke, who has stepped in to start all 18 matches and score three goals, including a pair of game-winners, while the defensive unit is paced by sophomore Amy Morford, senior Jessica Lee and junior Kourtney Kavic.
Freshman Marissa Williams has been a key part of the Pioneer defensive effort, starting 17 matches and posting a 1.30 goals against average and a .811 save percentage. Williams led NCAA Division II in saves for a portion of the season, and finished the regular season with 99 stops and six shutouts.
The Trojans are paced by junior Jessica Kleinberg and sophomore Allie Waters, who have shared the team lead in scoring with six goals apiece. Waters scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick in Anderson's regular-season meeting with Tusculum.
Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Neipp has started all 18 games for the Trojans, and has 86 saves and a sparkiling 0.99 goals against average to go with six shutouts. The Trojans have been outscored by a 19-18 margin this season and have not scored more than three goals in any of the squad's 18 matches.
The Tuaculum-Anderson match is the lone Food Lion SAC Tournament contest on Tuesday. The other three matches will be contested on Wednesdsay, with eighth-seeded Carson-Newman at top-seeded Lenoir Rhyne at 7 p.m., sixth-seeded Lincoln Memorial at third-seeded Newberry at 2 p.m. and seventh-seeded Catawba at second-seeded Wingate at 7 p.m.
Ticket prices are $6 for adults and $3 for children (ages 6-12) and college students. Fans showing the Food Lion MVP card can save $1 off the price of an adult ticket. No other passes or rates will be honored for admission to Tuesday’s game.
- TC -
2011 Food Lion SAC Soccer Championship – Women’s Quarterfinals
No. 8 Carson Newman at No. 1 Lenoir-Rhyne - Nov. 2, 7 p.m.
No. 5 Tusculum at No. 4 Anderson - Nov. 1, 1 p.m.
No. 6 Lincoln Memorial at No. 3 Newberry - Nov. 2, 2 p.m.
No. 7 Catawba at No. 2 Wingate - Nov. 2, 7 p.m.