GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Juliette Cusano scored five of her six goals in the first half, including three straight during an 8-0 run, as Tusculum University routed Tennessee Wesleyan University 20-6 in non-conference women's lacrosse action Monday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
Emily Youngblood and Kylie Marek each had three goals and an assist for the Pioneers (1-1), who led 13-2 at halftime and finished with a 39-16 advantage in shots. The Bulldogs (0-1), ranked 10th in the NAIA preseason poll, received four goals from MiKayla Virden and two goals from Olivia Ritter in the loss.
The Pioneers also received two goals and two assists from Tia Tuininga, two goals and an assist from Megann McKinney and two goals from Jessica Spiegel as eight different players found the net for the Pioneers in the victory. Bailey Lowery had a goal and two assists and Harley Smith scored her first career goal with under eight minutes left. Tusculum outshot Tennessee Wesleyan 27-7 in the first half and 12-9 in the second half, while the Pioneer defense caused 12 of the 17 turnovers committed by the Bulldogs.
Tusculum needed just over one minute to get on the board as Youngblood opened the scoring on a free-position goal. McKinney followed just over a minute later, with Spiegel scoring twice in just under a minute for a 4-0 Pioneer lead after 7 1/2 minutes. Cusano's first of the day made it 5-0 Tusculum after 10 minutes, but Virden responded with 19:10 left in the half to pull the Bulldogs within 5-1. Tusculum would then score eight straight goals in a 13-minute span, with three from Cusano in 1:00 along with goals from Marek, Youngblood, McKinney and Bailey Lowery to give the Pioneers a 13-1 lead with 5:05 to play in the half. Virden closed the scoring with 1:45 left as the Pioneers carried a 13-2 lead to intermission.
Tuininga scored twice in three minutes, followed by goals from Marek and Cusano to extend the Pioneer lead to 17-2 with 22:50 remaining. Ritter and Virden cut into the margin with goals three minutes apart, and the teams finished the game alternating goals as tallies from Marek and Smith were answered by Ritter and Varden. Youngblood closed out the scoring with her third goal of the day with 1:04 remaining.
Cusano had three caused turnovers, three draw controls and three ground balls for the Pioneers, while Marek had a game-high six draw controls along with a pair of ground balls and two caused turnovers. Tuininga added three caused turnovers of her own and had three ground balls and two draw controls, as Tusculum finished with a 16-10 advantage on draws.
For Tennessee Wesleyan, Taylor Minauskas, Annalise Vigilante and Haleigh Barnett each finished with three draw controls. The Bulldogs were just 7-for-14 on clear attempts while the Pioneers were successful on 10 of 12 clears.
Tusculum goalkeeper Kate Pipkin played the first half and made three saves, followed by Caroline Monroe with one save. Dakota Halford had five saves in goal for the Bulldogs, with Erika Aguileta making two saves during a second-half stint between the pipes.
The Pioneers will continue their five-game homestand on Thursday against Shorter, starting at 5 p.m. at Pioneer Field.