Ljubic scores twice in Pioneers' 2-0 win over Mars Hill

Ljubic scores twice in Pioneers' 2-0 win over Mars Hill

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Dario Ljubic scored both goals in Tusculum University's 2-0 victory over Mars Hill University in South Atlantic Conference men's soccer action Saturday afternoon at Pioneer Field.

Ljubic scored in the 34th and 60th minutes for the Pioneers (7-6-1, 5-3-1 SAC), who celebrated Senior Day by outshooting the Lions (6-6-2, 2-5-2 SAC) by an 18-4 margin to win their fourth consecutive home match.

Alejandro Quiriti made two saves to earn his SAC-leading seventh shutout of the season, which ties him with Andy Goellner (2011) and Jorge Alvarez (2016) for fourth-most in a single season in program history. Quiriti also moved into fifth place on the career shutout list at Tusculum with his eighth clean sheet in a Pioneer uniform.

Quiriti was called upon early as he stopped a header from close range by the Lions' Sebastian Bertilsson in the 10th minute. Quiriti's only other save came in the 19th minute on an attempt by Mars Hill's Sam Roe.

Tusculum's Ayuk Tambe nearly broke the deadlock in the 30th minute, but he sent a loose ball in the box just over the crossbar from close range, moments after shooting wide on a header.

In the 34th minute, Pau Peiro dished to Ljubic on the left side, whose shot from 20 yards curled over Mars Hill keeper Brian Salzman to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead at 33:18.

The second half started with three yellow cards and nine combined fouls until the Pioneers' Oscar Rubio Jimenez squared one off the crossbar from 15 yards in the 55th minute. Jonny Winter had a bid for a goal in the 59th minute, but Salzman made a lunging save toward the post to force a corner kick.

At 59:39, a long throw from the Pioneers' Shawn Foster found the head of Ljubic in the box, and he went far side past Salzman for his fourth goal of the season and second of the afternoon, as the Pioneers went ahead 2-0 with just under 30 minutes on the clock.

Tusculum's Endjick Albert nearly made it 3-0 Pioneers with 16 minutes left, but his high shot went off Salzman's hands, off the crossbar and back into Salzman's hands. The Pioneers looked to have scored the third goal with just under three minutes left, but the goal was negated by an offsides flag.

Meanwhile, the Tusculum defense held Mars Hill without a shot attempt until Bertilsson had a try that was blocked with 1:20 to go. Tusculum outshot Mars Hill 11-1 in the second half, forcing Salzman to make five of his seven saves after halftime.

Tusculum held a slim 6-5 edge in corner kicks over Mars Hill, while the Lions were called for 16 fouls to 13 by the Pioneers. Tusculum was flagged three times for offsides, while Mars Hill was called once.

Tusculum will be on the road for the final two matches of the regular season, beginning Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Lee.