Tusculum beats Lincoln Memorial 11-4 to advance to SAC semifinals

Tusculum beats Lincoln Memorial 11-4 to advance to SAC semifinals

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum men's lacrosse team defeated Lincoln Memorial 11-4 in South Atlantic Conference Championship quarterfinal action Tuesday night at Pioneer Field.

The third-seeded Pioneers (11-3) scored five goals in the first quarter and never trailed to advance to play Wingate in the semifinals Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Queens University in Charlotte. The sixth-seeded Railsplitters had their season come to an end with a record of 8-7.

Ben Boyd led the Pioneers with four goals and an assist, including the 100th goal of his career, with Dallas Wade and Liam Macdonald each scoring a pair of goals and Tyler Klarner registering a goal and two assists to lead Tusculum into the conference semifinal round for the second straight season. Kevin Haggerty tied his season high with 16 saves in goal for the Pioneers, who held the Railsplitters scoreless in the fourth quarter to nail down the victory.

Nick Borriello led Lincoln Memorial with two goals, while Robert Tucker and Billy Kopsky added goals for the Railsplitters, who were outshot 32-31 by the Pioneers but allowed Tusculum to score four man-up goals in six opportunities while going just 1-for-6 with the man advantage.

Tusculum struck quickly to take a 2-0 lead over Lincoln Memorial, as Nate Wade scored just 1:02 into the game followed 10 seconds later by Macdonald. Tucker scored with a man advantage to pull the Railsplitters within 2-1 with 12:22 left in the first quarter, but the Pioneers responded with three goals in 3 1/2 minutes. Klarner made it 3-1 with 9:43 left in the first quarter, followed by man-up goals from Dallas Wade and Chris Ryan for a 5-1 Pioneer lead with 6:16 to go in the period.

In the second quarter, Borriello scored just under two minutes into the period to bring the Railsplitters back within 5-2, but Macdonald answered with the man up for a 6-2 Tusculum lead with 9:26 to play in the half. Boyd then became the first player in program history to reach 100 career goals as he scored with 8:17 left in the quarter. Boyd added his second of the quarter with 1:57 left as Tusculum went to the half with an 8-2 lead.

Lincoln Memorial sustained offensive pressure in the third quarter and it paid off on goals from Kopsky and Borriello, which brought the Railsplitters to within 8-4 with 3:52 to play in the quarter. However, Boyd netted his third of the game with 59 seconds left as Tusculum went to the final quarter with a 9-4 lead.

The fourth quarter saw the Pioneers register both goals, the first on a man advantage by Dallas Wade with 9:54 left, and the final goal of the game off the stick of Boyd with 5:20 remaining.

Tusculum finished with a 10-9 edge in faceoffs and a 23-22 advantage in ground balls. Alexander Kleinberg went 10-for-19 in the circle and had a team-high five ground balls for the Pioneers, while Joel Edgar had four ground balls and Ross Parsons collected three to go along with a pair of caused turnovers.

Haggerty equaled his season high of 16 saves set in an overtime loss to SAC champion Lenoir-Rhyne on March 18, making nine saves in the first half and seven in the second half. He has recorded at least 10 saves in seven of the Pioneers' last eight games, with a .613 save percentage and a 8.18 goals against average over that span.

Kyle Fleck and Kyle Arcuri led the Railsplitters with four ground balls apiece, with Kopsky adding three. Joe Medel played all 60 minutes in goal for Lincoln Memorial and finished with six saves.

Tusculum and Wingate will meet for the second time in less than a week, after the Bulldogs rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to beat Tusculum 10-9 Saturday afternoon in Greeneville. The Bulldogs moved up three spots to 11th in the latest USILA Division II Poll, while the Pioneers dropped one position to 20th following the loss.

Thursday's winner will play the winner of the other semifinal game between top-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne and fourth-seeded Queens for the championship on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Queens.