GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Shorter University scored six unanswered goals midway through the second half and went on to defeat Tusculum University 16-12 in non-conference women's lacrosse action Wednesday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
McKinley Puckett scored seven goals and Aubrey Geiger had two goals and four assists for the Hawks (1-0), who outshot the Pioneers (0-1) 18-7 in the second half and 35-21 overall. Amani Robinson added three goals and an assist for Shorter, which trailed 10-8 with 21:09 left before holding Tusculum scoreless for nearly 13 minutes in the season opener for both teams.
Brittany Lowery had four goals and Juliette Cusano, Emily Youngblood and Rachel Holmes each scored twice for the Pioneers, who also received a goal and two assists apiece from Bailey Lowery and Jessica Spiegel.
Shorter scored twice in the first five minutes as Puckett and Robinson teamed up to give the Hawks a quick 2-0 lead. Tusculum answered with four straight goals, two from Brittany Lowery, one from Bailey Lowery and the latter from Holmes for a 4-2 lead with 11:54 left in the first half. Puckett scored twice to tie the game at 4-4 with 8:39 left in the half, and the teams exchanged goals the rest of the half which left the score tied 7-7 at intermission.
Jessie Hilliard scored 19 seconds into the second half to put Shorter back ahead 8-7, but Cusano scored twice in 32 seconds for a 9-8 Pioneer lead with 25:18 remaining. Spiegel made it 10-8 Tusculum with 21:09 to go, but Puckett scored twice to tie the game at 10-10, the latter with 17:11 left.
Geiger's second goal of the game gave Shorter the lead for good at 11-10 with 15:50 left, and Puckett scored twice more and Robinson once as Shorter took its biggest lead at 14-10 with 11:17 to go. Youngblood scored twice off assists from Spiegel to bring the Pioneers back within 14-12 with 4:08 to play, but Bailey Skiles and Robinson closed out the scoring for the Hawks in the final four minutes.
Shorter had a 26-18 advantage in ground balls, led by Allie Perry who had seven ground balls and three caused turnovers to go along with nine draw controls and a goal and three assists. Tayler Ferqueron had four ground balls for the Hawks, and Alexis Mount had three ground balls, a pair of caused turnovers and a game-high nine draw controls.
For the Pioneers, Eliza Ryan had four ground balls and also contributed a pair of assists. Brittany Lowery finished with three caused turnovers and three draw controls, and Cusano had a team-high four draw controls to go with a pair of caused turnovers.
Shorter had the edge in draw controls by an 18-12 margin, while the Hawks were whistled for 42 fouls to 21 by the Pioneers. Tusculum was 4-for-6 on free-position shots and Shorter was just 2-for-7 in the game.
Kate Pipkin played all 60 minutes in goal for the Pioneers and made 12 saves, while Peyton Reid had four saves and played just over 55 minutes between the pipes for the Hawks.
Tusculum will return to action on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at North Greenville for a 4 p.m. match with the Crusaders.