Hems scores in double OT as Pioneers beat #16 Catawba 11-10 and clinch SAC berth

Hems scores in double OT as Pioneers beat #16 Catawba 11-10 and clinch SAC berth

BREVARD, N.C. --- AJ Hems scored 11 seconds into the second overtime period as Tusculum University defeated 16th-ranked Catawba College 11-10 in South Atlantic Conference men's lacrosse action Saturday night at Ives-Lemel Field on the campus of Brevard College.

With their first win over a ranked opponent in program history, the Pioneers (7-6, 3-5 SAC) clinched a berth in the SAC Championship tournament and will play at Queens in the first round of the tournament on Tuesday. The Indians (9-5, 6-2 SAC) would have won a share of the SAC Championship and earned the number-one seed in the tournament with a win, but fell to the number-two seed behind Wingate with the loss.

The Pioneers trailed 9-7 early in the third quarter, but held the Indians to one goal over the final 28 minutes of play. Liam Macdonald and Jordan Daniel each had a goal and two assists to lead Tusculum, Sean Dunn had two goals and an assist and Hems, Keegan Bell and Nate Raymond all had two goals apiece.

Catawba was led by Trevor Bellotte who had three goals and an assist, including the tying goal with 2:53 left in overtime. The Indians had an extra-man opportunity midway through the first overtime period, but the Pioneer defense was able to kill it off.

The Indians took an early 3-0 lead but Tusculum came back to tie the game at 5-5 on a man-up goal by Daniel with 8:45 left in the second quarter. Goals by Joe Barber and Bellotte pushed Catawba up 7-5 at halftime, and the Indians carried a 9-7 lead into the final quarter.

Goals by Raymond and Josh Pickford tied the score at 9-9 with 10:25 to go, and Raymond's second of the game pushed Tusculum ahead 10-9 with 4:17 left. After Bellotte's tying goal, both teams had chances in the final two minutes but were turned away by the defense.

Ross Geiger made nine saves in goal for the Pioneers while Kevin Geiger had 10 stops for Catawba.