GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Catawba scored the first four goals of the second half to break a halftime tie and defeat Tusculum 14-12 in South Atlantic Conference women's lacrosse action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
The Indians (8-2, 2-1 SAC) won their sixth straight match as Kirstyn Kruse led the way for Catawba with three goals and three assists. Nicole Hunt also scored three goals for the Indians, while Gianna Pezzulo finished with two goals and two assists.
Rachel Holmes paced the Pioneers (4-8, 2-2 SAC) with three goals and an assist, and Savannah Elliott had two goals to tie the Tusculum program career record with 100 goals. Elliott also had two assists while Hayley Bartlett scored three goals for Tusculum, which had a 20-8 edge in draw controls over Catawba but committed 30 turnovers in the match.
Pezzulo gave the Indians a 1-0 lead just 43 seconds into the first half before the Pioneers went on a five-goal run spanning nine minutes. Holmes and Bartlett each scored twice during the Tusculum surge while Emily Gleason added a goal for the Pioneers. Catawba fought back with four of the next five goals, as Kruse scored twice and assisted on the other two, to pull within 6-5 with 9:13 left in the first half. Holmes gave the Pioneers a 7-5 lead with 4:58 to go in the half, but goals 28 seconds apart from Katie Barth and Becky Frost allowed the Indians to tie the score at 7-7 with 4:19 remaining in the half.
Hunt scored with 1:22 to play in the half to put Catawba back on top 8-7, but Claire Stanton knotted the game at 8-8 with 44 seconds left as the teams went to intermission deadlocked. Catawba outshot Tusculum 18-10 in the first half, but the Pioneers won 13 of the 17 draws.
Catawba took the lead for good with 26:21 left on the first of back-to-back goals from Nicolette Salay, and built the lead to 12-8 on a goal from Hunt with 18:41 left. Elliott scored twice in a three-minute span to pull Tusculum within 12-10 with 12:48 to play, with the latter goal the 100th of her career to equal the program record set by Kelsey Crow.
However, Catawba's Barth and Hunt scored the game's next two goals to push the Indians ahead 14-10 with 3:08 left. Bartlett and Madison Malone scored nine seconds apart with just over a minute and a half remaining, but Tusculum could get no closer.
Malone led the Pioneers with seven draw controls to go along with a goal and an assist on offense, while Holmes, Juliette Cusano and Shelby Gray each had a pair of caused turnovers. Tusculum finished the game with 20 ground balls, paced by goalkeeper Brooke Wagner with four.
For Catawba, Hannah Scott had a game-high seven ground balls and had two caused turnovers, while Hunt finished with four ground balls and a game-high three caused turnovers. Frost added three ground balls and two caused turnovers for Catawba, which tallied 33 ground balls as a team and caused 15 Tusculum turnovers.
Wagner finished with nine saves in goal for the Pioneers while Madison Anselmo made seven stops for the Indians, including six in the second half. Anselmo also had two caused turnovers and four ground balls in the match.
Tusculum will be on the road Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. for a South Atlantic Conference match with Lincoln Memorial.