Pioneers back on the road this week, play SAC opener on Saturday

Pioneers back on the road this week, play SAC opener on Saturday

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- After a busy week that included two wins and a trip to Florida, the Tusculum University women's soccer team will continue its stretch of season-opening road matches with two contests in North Carolina this week, including their South Atlantic Conference opener.

The Pioneers will carry a 2-2-0 record to Lees-McRae for a non-conference match with the Bobcats on Wednesday at 7 p.m., then head to Hickory, North Carolina to battle Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday at 1 p.m. in their first of 10 SAC matches this season.

The Pioneers went to Young Harris Tuesday night and came away with a 2-1 victory over the host Mountain Lions. Brooke Radcliffe scored the tying goal in the 34th minute and Ellie Tomassoni netted the game-winner in the 65th minute for the Pioneers, who matched the Mountain Lions in shots (12) and corner kicks (5). Cecilie Ting Mortensen made four saves in goal for the Pioneers to pick up her first win in a Tusculum uniform.

After flying to South Florida on Thursday, the Pioneers squared off with Barry on Friday night and defeated the Buccaneers by a score of 2-0. Tina Haig scored the first goal of the match off a rebound in the 59th minute, and Chelsea Sheerin collected an insurance goal on an open-net breakaway with seven seconds remaining. Mortensen earned her first career shutout with five saves for the Pioneers, who were outshot by the Bucs 14-8.

On Sunday, the Pioneers fell 5-0 at Nova Southeastern thanks to a natural hat trick by Dejah Holman, who scored in the 12th, 28th and 57th minutes to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead. Nova Southeastern, which is 4-0 and has outscored its opponents 31-0 so far this season, had a 29-6 edge in shots over the Pioneers in the win.

Lees-McRae carries an 0-3 record into Wednesday night's match with the Pioneers, having dropped their Conference Carolinas opener at home to Southern Wesleyan on Saturday by a 3-2 score. The Bobcats opened the season with a 6-1 loss at Lenoir-Rhyne on Sept. 5, and fell 1-0 to Francis Marion on Sept. 8. Freshman Lianna Smith has been the breakout star for the Bobcats, as the freshman has scored all three goals for LMC. Junior Hope Sanborn has started all three matches in goal and has a .825 save percentage with 33 saves.

Lees-McRae leads the all-time series with Tusculum by a 7-5 margin, though the Pioneers won their meeting last year in Banner Elk by a score of 4-0.

Lenoir-Rhyne has played each of its first four games at home, a stretch that will extend to cover the first seven matches of the year. The Bears entered the week with a 4-0 record, having beaten Lees-McRae, USC Aiken, Limestone and UNC Pembroke before hosting Mars Hill on Wednesday. Hannah Van Eerden has been the top scorer for the Bears through four matches, netting five goals to share the SAC lead, while Abigael McGarel has scored four times and Aqsa Mushtaq three. Nine different players have scored for the Bears, who are outscoring their opponents by a 19-2 margin.

The Bears will host Mars Hill in their conference opener on Wednesday at 5 p.m. before welcoming the Pioneers on Saturday. The Pioneers faced the Bears twice last season, losing 3-1 at home in the regular season matchup and 1-0 on the road in the SAC Championship quarterfinals. Lenoir-Rhyne has a 16-12-3 edge in the all-time series.

Mortensen ranks third in the SAC with 22 saves and seventh in the conference in save percentage at .759. As a team, the Pioneers are sixth in the SAC in goals per game (1.00) and rank second in goalie saves with 26.

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