Pioneers open season with 17-5 victory over Lees-McRae

Pioneers open season with 17-5 victory over Lees-McRae

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Sierra Haas, Rachel Holmes and Savannah Elliott scored three goals apiece as Tusculum opened its 2018 women's lacrosse season with a 17-5 victory over Lees-McRae Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.

Juliette Cusano added a pair of goals and an assist for the Pioneers (1-0), who received goals from 11 different players in the victory. Haas, Megann McKinney and Bailey Lowery each had a pair of assists as Tusculum scored the first five goals of the match and led 10-2 at halftime.

Tiffany Laster led the Bobcats (0-1) with two goals, but Lees-McRae was outshot 25-8 and committed 23 turnovers in the contest. Lees-McRae was just 11-for-20 on clear attempts while Tusculum was successful on all 13 of its clear opportunities.

Elliott scored all three of her goals in the first 15 1/2 minutes, including a nifty behind-the-back goal that gave Tusculum a 3-0 lead just 4:43 into the match. After Sydney Starkey put the Bobcats on the scoreboard with 12:34 to go in the half, the Pioneers ran off four straight goals, including two in a row from Holmes, to take a 9-1 lead with 6:46 to play in the opening half. Tusculum outshot Lees-McRae 14-4 in the first half to take a 10-2 lead at intermission, as Haas and Elliott each had three goals for the Pioneers and Holmes and Cusano had two each.

The Pioneers scored two quick goals, from Eliza Ryan and Claire Stanton, to go on top 12-2 with 26:16 to play. A goal from Erin Sims extended the Tusculum lead to 13-2 with 20:39 left, but Lees-McRae countered with three in a row from Laster, Sara Henderson and Constance Madden to trim the deficit to 13-5 with 11:42 remaining. The Pioneers closed out the contest with the final four goals, coming from Holmes, McKinney, Lowery and Emily Gleason.

Tusculum was efficient in its shooting against Lees-McRae, putting 22 of its 25 shot attempts on target. The Pioneers also had a 15-8 advantage in draw controls, led by five apiece from Holmes and Madison Malone and four from Cusano. Beth Haynes led the Bobcats with four draw controls.

The Pioneers also finished the match with a 20-14 edge in ground balls, led by three apiece from Malone, Cusano and Jordan Smith. Laster had a team-high five ground balls for the Bobcats, and also had three caused turnovers to lead all players.

In goal, freshman Kate Pipkin played the first half and made one save for the Pioneers, while Brooke Wagner played the second half and also made one stop. Dayna Decesare was in goal for all 60 minutes for the Bobcats, finishing the afternoon with five saves.

The Pioneers will return to action on Sunday, Feb. 11 against defending NCAA Division II runner-up Florida Southern. The match against the Mocs will begin at 11 a.m. at Pioneer Field.