Williamsburg, KY – In just their second season in existence the University of the Cumberlands women's lacrosse team has already achieved several program milestones, while earning national recognition in the process. A big part of the Patriots success has been the emergence of freshman midfielder Samantha Tullar (FR/Randolph Center, VT) and goalie Emily Crump (FR/Dallas, TX).
Tullar has recorded 95 goals, 115 points, 107 draw controls, and 28 ground balls. She is the NAIA leader in goals, goals per game, points, and points per game, while being ranked second in draw controls. Crump has made 88 saves and has posted a .534 save percentage so far this season.
This season has been filled with first for Patriots including their first win over a ranked opponent (eighth-ranked Columbia) and their first win over a NCAA Division II opponent (Erskine). UC also went 2-0 in overtime games this season and moves to 3-0 in overtime games in program history, while winning a program-high 11 games.
"The overtime games against Charleston and Columbia were my favorite moment of the season," said Crump. "They were fun games and it was exciting to watch us rally from behind."
"It's exciting when we play together and we enjoy the feeling of winning as a team," said Tullar.
This season Tullar has hit an individual milestone becoming the first player in program history to record 100 points. Tullar's third goal at 21:00 mark against Montreat helped her reach the century mark, which she did just 15 games into her career. Tullar is averaging 7.19 points per game this season.
"It was incredible," said Tullar. "It was the most points I've scored at any level and getting to share that moment with this team was really special."
While Tullar and the Patriots offense is averaging 14.00 goals per game, which is top in the AAC, Crump has helped the UC backline limit opponents to 8.25 goals per game which is the best in the conference and fourth in the NAIA.
Crump missed the first six games of the season due to injury, but has been a force since getting on the field. She has posted a 6-3 record and has made double-digit saves in six games, including a career-high 17 saves against fifth-ranked Georgetown. At one point in the season Crump recorded ten or more saves in five straight games.
"It was an amazing feeling to get on the field and help the team," said Crump. "Once I shook off the jitters of the first game, the team came together and has worked well."
Tullar and Crump, along with Katherine Brewer (FR/Seymour, TN), Angelica Makoski, and Kimberly Persaud (FR/Orlando, FL) are part of the freshmen class that joined the ten returning players from last year's team. Together they have finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, including going 6-2 in the AAC to finish in a three-way tie for second place. The Patriots will face eighth-ranked Columbia in the semifinals of the AAC Tournament Friday at 5 p.m.
"I'm looking forward to polishing our skills and see how much we have improved since the first meeting," said Tullar.
Crump added, "I'm excited to see how well we play in the tournament and to see us continue to get better each game."
On the other side of the bracket, top seed Tennessee Wesleyan will face the winner of Reinhardt-Point in the semifinals on Friday. The winners of the two semifinals will advance to the championship game, Saturday at 3 p.m. The AAC champion will earn an automatic berth into the NAIA National Invitational May 3-6 in Greenville, S.C.
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