Pioneers defeat Lees-McRae 2-0 in home opener

Henrique Devens scores for the Pioneers in the 68th minute (photo by Mikala Brown)
Henrique Devens scores for the Pioneers in the 68th minute (photo by Mikala Brown)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University earned a 2-0 victory over Lees-McRae College in non-conference men's soccer action Wednesday evening at Pioneer Field.

Playing in their home opener, the Pioneers (1-3-1) received goals from Edgar Cervantes in the 40th minute and Henrique Devens in the 68th minute, while Sam Gilbert made four saves for his first career shutout. The Pioneers outshot the Bobcats (1-4-1) by a 16-13 margin and had a 6-2 edge in corner kicks in the victory.

Devens' goal was his third in as many games for the Pioneers, and gave Tusculum insurance after Cervantes' goal late in the first half sent the Pioneers to the locker room with a 1-0 advantage.

Tusculum had the first shot on goal off the foot of Sokho De Souza in the 6th minute which was stopped by Lees-McRae keeper Anton Sundstrom. Sundstrom then denied Georgios Charkoutsakis on a redirect header in the 9th minute, and Oscar Rubio Jimenez just missed the post in the 16th minute.

Gilbert's first save came in the 24th minute on a shot by the Bobcats' Agustin Ortiz, and he watched in the 32nd minute as Donovan Branch chipped a header over the crossbar. Gilbert's second save of the first half came in the 38th minute as he stopped Ortiz on a free kick.

The Pioneers went up 1-0 with 5:26 left in the first half as Jimenez carried down the left side and made a short cross to Cervantes in the middle, who went far side on Sundstrom for his first goal of the season. With just over a minute left in the half, the Pioneers nearly went up 2-0 as the deflection of a cross came to Tusculum's Clement Dagorn, who rolled the ball toward the line only to see Sundstrom pounce just before crossing.

In the second half, Luke Murphy put a shot wide of target in the 57th minute and then hit the crossbar after breaking behind the defense in the 62nd minute. Just six minutes later, the Pioneers were able to build their lead to 2-0 as Devens carried down the left side, beat a pair of defenders and went past Sundstrom to the far post at 67:16.

The Bobcats tried to rally in the final 15 minutes, but Gilbert made saves on shots by Harvey McMorrow in the 77th minute and Matt Dunn in the 84th minute. McMorrow also missed the near post in the 83rd minute after a cross left him alone with Gilbert from 15 yards out. Tusculum's last chance came with 2:40 to go as Sundstrom punched a shot by Xavi Sandoica over the frame.

Sundstrom finished the match with five saves for the Bobcats, who were even in fouls with the Pioneers at 13 apiece.

The Pioneers will return to South Atlantic Conference action on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Newberry.