Lee holds on for 1-0 win over Tusculum

Lee holds on for 1-0 win over Tusculum

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Jake Molony scored on a header off a rebound in the 18th minute for the only goal of the match as Lee defeated Tusculum 1-0 in non-conference men's soccer action Wednesday night at Pioneer Field.

Backup goalkeeper Daniel Hrenko made five saves in the final 30 minutes for the Flames (6-6-4), who snapped a three-match winless streak in their regular-season finale. The Pioneers (2-7-6) were shut out for the first time in five matches and saw their three-match unbeaten streak snapped.

Tusculum nearly scored in the first 10 minutes for the third straight match, but a shot from the right wing by Farid Benletaief hit the outside of the right post in the sixth minute. Ayuk Tambe also had a chance for the Pioneers in the 18th minute, but his shot from 10 yards was stopped by Lee goalie Tristen Putnam.

Less than 30 seconds later, the Flames opened the scoring as Molony, who was a late addition to the Flames' starting lineupm, connected on a diving header off the rebound of a shot from Jared McWhorter for his first goal of the season.

Tusculum's last shot of the first half was a header from Tambe off a free kick that Putnam snagged with just over four minutes remaining. The Pioneers trailed 1-0 at intermission and were outshot by the Flames 6-4 in the opening half.

The Flames threatened in the first minute of the second half as Samaan Williams collected a through ball, but Pioneer keeper Ivan Safranic stepped up to make the save. Williams just missed the upper right corner about 4 1/2 minutes later as the Flames lead remained at 1-0.

Putnam was called to the bench with 30 minutes to go and replaced by Hrenko, who had played a total of 28 minutes spanning two appearances without facing a shot on goal. Hrenko was tested early as he stopped Edgar Cervantes on a header off a corner kick in the 64th minute.

In the 71st minute, Connor Green broke down the left side and fired a shot from a sharp angle that was stopped by Hrenko and then caromed off the goalpost before being covered by the Lee keeper. Williams had another good look in the 72nd minute, but Safranic was able to knock down his shot from close range.

The Flames had a chance in the 79th minute as Jose Orellana had a one-on-one chance with Safranic, but the Tusculum keeper disrupted the play and Orellana's shot went wide to the left. Tusculum came back in the 80th minute, but Hrenko was equal to a shot attempt from the Pioneers' Andreas Kvam.

Tusculum would have two more good chances in the closing minutes on a shot from 15 yards by Tambe with 2:20 left, and a blast from the left wing by Kvam with 1:22 remaining that were each directed away by Hrenko. The Pioneers had a cross in the final seconds, but Hrenko came off his line to smother the pass as time ran out.

Lee finished the match with five corner kicks to three for Tusculum, and the Flames were whistled for 13 fouls compared to six by the Pioneers. The Flames were also flagged twice for offsides to once for the Pioneers, and Lee was shown the only two yellow cards displayed in the match.

Safranic finished with three saves in goal for the Pioneers, while Putnam had two saves in 60 minutes before yielding to Hrusko who had five stops in the final 30 minutes of play.

The Pioneers will wrap up the regular season Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Field against Wingate in a South Atlantic Conference matchup. The team will honor its three seniors prior to the start of Saturday's match.

- TC -