GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- After qualifying for the South Atlantic Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship tournament on the final goal of the regular season, Tusculum University will face Queens University of Charlotte in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Queens Sports Complex.
The Pioneers (7-6, 3-5 SAC) earned the sixth and final spot in the SAC Championship tournament with a thrilling 11-10 double-overtime win over 16th-ranked Catawba on Saturday night at Brevard, North Carolina. AJ Hems scored 11 seconds into the second extra session to send Tusculum to the postseason for the third time in the last four years.
Tusculum has won both of its previous SAC quarterfinal contests, beating Coker 12-9 on the road in 2016 and defeating Lincoln Memorial 11-4 at home in 2017. The Pioneers and Royals have never met in the postseason, but Queens is 5-1 all-time against Tusculum and 3-0 at home. The Royals beat the Pioneers 16-8 in their regular-season meeting at Pioneer Field on March 23.
The Pioneers are led on offense by senior Keegan Bell, who ranks second in the SAC with a school single-season record 43 goals and is tied for fourth in the league with 58 points, also a single-season Tusculum record. Junior Liam Macdonald leads the SAC with 36 assists and has added 19 goals for 55 points to rank second on the team. Freshmen Nate Raymond and Kale Lawrence have had productive rookie seasons with 17 and 16 goals, respectively, as Tusculum has seven players in double figures in goal scoring.
Junior long pole Joel Edgar is ninth overall in the conference annd fourth among non-faceoff men with 52 ground balls, and sophomore Connor Coleman has 30 ground balls and a team-high 14 caused turnovers. In goal, freshman Ross Geiger has started all 13 games and has a 13.31 goals against average and a .483 save percentage.
Tusculum's strength is in its man-up offense, which has converted on a SAC-best 38.9 percent of its attempts (14 goals in 36 chances). Bell is third in the conference with six man-up goals for the Pioneers.
Queens opened the season with wins in 11 of its first 12 games, but lost to Catawba 13-12 and Wingate 11-9 on the final two Saturdays of the regular season to drop to 11-3 overall and third place in the SAC with a 6-2 record. The Royals defense allowed10 or more goals just five times, led by goalkeeper Kyle Hornik who is second in the SAC in goals against average at 8.99 and first in save percentage at .581.
Sophomore Quinn Tallant is the Royals' leading scorer with 33 goals, while sophomore Kealan Pilon led Queens in points with 51 on 30 goals and 21 assists. Junior Drew Flack has excelled on faceoffs for the Royals, winning 63.8 percent (169-for-265) and picking up 78 ground balls, while senior Griffin Stechmiller has 71 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers.
The winner of Tuesday's match will play second-seeded Catawba in the semifinals on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at Wingate. The top-seeded Bulldogs will face either fourth-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne or fifth-seeded Newberry in the other semifinal on Friday at 4:30 p.m. The championship match will be Sunday at 4 p.m. at Wingate.
South Atlantic Conference Men's Lacrosse Championship
Tuesday, April 23 - Quarterfinals
#6 Tusculum at #3 Queens, 4 p.m.
#5 Newberry at #4 Lenoir-Rhyne, 7 p.m.
Friday, April 26 - Semifinals (at Wingate)
Lenoir-Rhyne/Newberry winner vs. #1 Wingate, 4:30 p.m.
Tusculum/Queens winner vs. #2 Catawba, 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 28 - Finals (at Wingate)
Semifinal winners, 4 p.m.