Lynchburg, Va. – The winningest season for the Transylvania men's lacrosse team drew to an end in the opening-round match of the 2019 NCAA Tournament as the Pioneers fell 15-5 against the Lynchburg College Hornets on Wednesday evening at Shellenberger Field.
Taking on the Hornets, the runners-up of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, the Pioneers entered the second-round contest looking for their program's first NCAA Tournament win in three appearances.
But the seasoned Hornets, in their 13th-overall NCAA Tournament appearance, began the night showing off their established pedigree as they scored the first eight goals of the night to create instant distance from Transylvania.
After weathering a 7-0 start in the first quarter by the Hornets, Transylvania punched back against the Hornets, sharpening on both sides of the field. The Pioneers found the back of the net with 10:40 left in the half by taking advantage of a man-up situation: Corbyn Buchart delivered a well-timed pass to Kayd Aquino as the sophomore delivered the first goal of the night for the Pioneers.
Though Lynchburg countered with two more goals, the Pioneers blanked the Hornets for the final 5:49 of the half while closing the first half with back-to-back scores. Peyton Bray created offense for the Pioneers with the second goal of the day with 5:41 left off of a successful face-off, and Nic Bailey found Buchart for the third Pioneer goal with 3:15 remaining in the half.
The Pioneers emerged from halftime a different team, creating their fair share of scoring chances in the third quarter. The Hornets remained steady on defense and thwarted every quality shot by the Pioneers as they increased their lead to 13-3 by the end of the quarter.
Despite being outgained on ground balls 46-25, the Pioneers began to increase their frequency of possession over the final 20 minutes of play. Though Lynchburg captured the majority of the face-offs, goalie Michael Webb also stepped up in the final half, stopping a high volume of Hornet shots which became more laborious for the home team as the night carried on.
Transylvania got back on the scoreboard with 13:16 remaining in the game as Quinn Fox won a physical battle and struck the net from the left side, cutting Lynchburg's lead to 13-4. The Pioneers later scored again on a man-up opportunity as A.J. Teague found Bailey for the fifth goal of the night.
After being held scoreless for the first 10:51 of the quarter, the Hornets finally broke through against Webb for a goal. A backfield turnover by the Pioneers late in the contest quickly translated into Lynchburg's last score of the game with 2:58 to go.
Bailey and Buchart each finished the game with 2 points apiece for the Pioneers while T. J. Toivonen led Transylvania with four ground balls. Webb finished the match with 11 saves in facing 26 shots. Transylvania committed four fewer turnovers than Lynchburg but the Hornets made good use of the 14 turnovers they found against the Pioneers with multiple takeaways leading to successful counterattacks.
The Pioneers were nearly perfect on rides to end their season, going 23 for 24 on clears.
Lynchburg will move ahead to play Salisbury in the third round of the NCAA Tournament while the Pioneers' season comes to an end with an overall record of 14-5. Wednesday's result served as the slimmest margin for the Pioneers in their three games against ODAC opponents in the NCAA Tournament round.
The 2019 season presented the Pioneers with a series of firsts and successes, including the program's first-ever wins over Sewanee and Wittenberg, a six-game win streak to close out the pre-NCAA Tournament slate, an 8-0 run through Heartland Collegiate Lacrosse Conference play, and top-10 national rankings in numerous categories.
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