GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University men's soccer team hosts a pair of matches to begin its 2018 season this weekend at Pioneer Field.
The Pioneers welcome Emmanuel for a 7:30 p.m. match on Friday, and follow with a contest against local rival King on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Tusculum head coach Allen Vital begins his eighth season at his alma mater coming off a 2017 campaign that saw the Pioneers compile a 2-8-6 overall record. The six draws were a program single-season record, and Tusculum trailed by more than one goal for just 47 minutes, 41 seconds out of the 1565 minutes, 50 seconds played during the year.
The Pioneers scored 18 goals in their 16 matches last season, and every single goal scorer from a year ago is back on this year's roster. Tusculum is led by second-team preseason All-SAC forward Edgar Cervantes, who had three goals and an assist for seven points as a freshman. Fellow sophomore Oscar Rubio Jimenez added a team-high four goals and nine points last year, while seniors Ayuk Tambe and Jonny Winter added three goals apiece.
On defense, junior Georgios Charkoutsakis is a second-team preseason All-SAC honoree after fighting through injuries last season. Sophomore defender Clément Dagorn and senior midfielder Shawn Foster are also back after starting for most of last year, along with junior goalkeeper Alejandro Quiriti who had a 1.85 goals against average in nine starts in 2017.
Emmanuel is in its first season as a full member of NCAA Division II and finished 6-7-3 overall last year, while taking sixth place in Conference Carolinas with a 4-4-2 mark. It is the first all-time meeting between the Lions and the Pioneers.
King turned in a record of 5-9-2 last season and went 1-8-1 in Conference Carolinas, placing them in a tie for 10th place. The teams played to a 2-2 draw in Bristol last season, leaving the Pioneers with a 17-8-3 edge in the all-time series over the Tornado.