GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University women's soccer team carries a streak of three consecutive home shutout victories into South Atlantic Conference play against a pair of regionally-ranked opponents this week, starting Wednesday at home against Lincoln Memorial at 5 p.m. and continuing at Catawba on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
The Pioneers (6-6-0, 2-3-0 SAC) opened the season with nine straight road matches, but have yet to allow a goal in their three home wins over Anderson, Shaw and Wingate. Last week, the Pioneers shut out Shaw 2-0 on Wednesday evening, then came up with a stunning 1-0 win over Wingate on Sunday despite being outshot 26-4 by the regionally-ranked Bulldogs. The wins lifted Tusculum into a three-way tie for sixth place in the SAC standings with Queens and Lincoln Memorial, all at 2-3-0.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
Tusculum shut out Shaw 2-0 on Wednesday behind goals from Yvette Raaijen in the first half and Tina Haig in the second half. Danielle Breen made three saves to earn the victory for the Pioneers over the Bears, who had won three straight prior to the match.
On Sunday, Tusculum grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute on a goal by Brooke Radcliffe, and made it stand for 90 minutes despite Wingate hitting the crossbar three times and the goalpost twice. Breen was outstanding for the Pioneers, making several acrobatic saves among her career-best 10 stops, and the Tusculum defense stood tall in the second half after playing one down for the final 18 minutes.
Lincoln Memorial (8-3-0, 2-3-0 SAC) was ranked as high as sixth in the United Soccer Coaches Division II national poll, but has lost three following a 4-0 start. Last week, the Railsplitters routed Lees-McRae 8-0 on Wednesday but fell 1-0 to Catawba on Saturday. LMU begins this week ranked seventh in the United Soccer Coaches Southeast Region rankings.
Jessica Cravero is the top scorer for the Railsplitters with eight goals and 18 points which ranks her second in the SAC in both categories. Itzel Ballesteros and Rachel Taylor have each scored six goals, and Thenia Zervas has a league-high nine assists. In goal, Emanuely Costa has started all 11 matches and has a 0.76 goals against average and a save percentage of 8.37, both third-best in the SAC.
The Pioneers enjoy a 16-10-3 lead in the all-time series with the Railsplitters, including three straight shutout victories. LMU's last win came on Oct. 22, 2014 at home by a 2-1 score, and their last victory in Greeneville was 2-1 in double overtime on Oct. 20, 2011 (0-3-1 since).
Catawba leaped from ninth to fifth in the United Soccer Coaches Southeast Region poll after wins at Coker (3-0) and Lincoln Memorial (1-0) last week. Peyton Pruitt had the only goal against LMU on a header in the 61st minute and Shelby Thompson made four saves for her second shutout of the year. The Indians will host eighth-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne Wednesday night before Saturday's matchup with the Pioneers.
Maddie Capel leads the Indians in scoring with four goals and three assists for 11 points, while Jovana Sanchez and Courtney Reavis have three goals apiece. Thompson is fourth in the SAC with a 0.93 goals against average in eight starts.
The Indians have a 12-9-4 advantage in the all-time series with the Pioneers, but Tusculum has won the last four meetings including a 3-1 win at home last Sept. 29 and a 2-1 overtime victory in their last trip to Salisbury on Oct. 21, 2017.
Breen, the reigning SAC Defensive Player of the Week, has played 311 minutes in goal for the Pioneers, leaving her one full game shy of qualifying for the SAC goalkeeper leaders. If she were qualified, Breen would rank fourth in goals against average at 0.85 and would be tied for the SAC lead in save percentage at .870. Haig leads the Pioneers with three goals, while Radcliffe and Raaijen each have two goals and two assists.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.