By: Jake Miller
HARTSVILLE, S.C.- Coker women's lacrosse snuck by sixth-seeded Tusculum 18-17 in a South Atlantic Conference tournament quarterfinal on Tuesday (Apr. 25).
Coker came out of the gates firing, jumping out to a 7-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and change. Haley McCusker started the scoring just 1:02 in off a free position goal, before scoring again before the three-minute mark to put Coker up 2-0. Faith Kent scored her 100th career goal at the 4:45 mark of the first half, before a Mackenzie Baker goal put Coker up by four. Kent would set up Coker's next two goals, finding Karah Huntsinger and Claudia Jenkins a little over one minute apart. Just after the 10-minute mark of the first half, McCusker netted her third, her second from a free position to stretch Coker out to a touchdown lead. Tusculum got on the board shortly after, but Baker responded with another marker to get Coker back to a seven-goal lead. The Pioneers netted back-to-back goals over a five minute stretch, before the home team responded with lightning-fast tallies from McCusker and Jenkins. The Pioneers scored three of the final five goals in the half, but Coker took a 12-6 lead to the break.
Kent opened the second half scoring a man-up goal just 17 seconds in, getting Coker back up by seven. Tusculum scored four goals over the next five minutes to make it just a three-goal contest with plenty of game left. McCusker and Baker responded by going back-to-back to get the home team some breathing room and a five-goal cushion. Two Tusculum tallies in under two minutes put the pressure on the home team once again, before Kent struck for a third time for a much-needed answer just after the halfway point of the second. Tusculum scored two consecutive goals yet again and put the pressure on the home team later on in the half. Kent's fourth of the game with nine minutes left put Coker up 17-14, but Tusculum did not go quietly.
The visitors responded with three goals in under four minutes to tie the game at 17, leaving the Cobras with a chance to make something happen late in the game. McCusker made a move on her defender and scored one-on-one against the Tusculum netminder, to put Coker up 18-17 with exactly three minutes left in the half. The Cobra defense was able to shut down any opportunities in front of Cassie Williams, which translated to the offense holding the ball and running out the clock.
McDonald's Player of the Game- Haley McCusker