Pioneers to host Lees-McRae in 2019 home opener

Pioneers to host Lees-McRae in 2019 home opener

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Following four consecutive road matches to start the 2019 season, the Tusculum University men's soccer team will play its home opener this week while searching for its first victory of the year.

The Pioneers will host Lees-McRae in a non-conference game on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Pioneer Field, then will travel to Newberry for a South Atlantic Conference contest on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Tusculum enters the week with a record of 0-3-1, having played to a 1-1 draw at Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday in the SAC opener after losing 3-2 in overtime at King on Wednesday. The overtime loss at King was the first loss in extra time for the Pioneers since Sept. 20, 2017 at Queens, snapping a streak of one win and five ties.

The Pioneers visited King on Wednesday and were defeated in overtime by a score of 3-2 after the Tornado were awarded a penalty early in the extra period and converted the kick for the win. Henrique Devens and Arthur Le Gall scored goals in the second half for the Pioneers, who rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits in the second half to force the extra period. The Pioneers outshot the Tornado 18-10, as three of the five goals in the match were scored on penalty kicks. Alejandro Quiriti had two saves in goal for the Pioneers in the loss.

On Saturday, a goal by Devens in the 60th minute lifted the Pioneers into a 1-1 tie at Lenoir-Rhyne. Sam Gilbert made five saves for the Pioneers, all coming in regulation as the Pioneers were outshot 23-7 by the Bears. For Devens, it was the first time in his two-year Tusculum career that he has scored goals in back-to-back games.

Lees-McRae is 1-3-1 after losing on Saturday in double overtime to Erskine by a 3-2 score. The Bobcats held a 2-1 lead on goals by Johannes Oeksnevad and Harvey McMorrow, but the Flying Fleet tied the match with 4:20 left in regulation and got the win 2:27 into the second overtime period. Lees-McRae was outshot 14-11 and Anton Sundstrom had seven saves in goal for the Bobcats.

Wednesday's match will be the fourth of the season for the Bobcats against a SAC opponent, including losses to Lenoir-Rhyne (4-0) and Anderson (3-0) and a 1-1 draw with Mars Hill in their season opener on Sept. 5. The Bobcats also have a 1-0 victory in their conference opener against Southern Wesleyan. Four different players have scored the four goals for the Bobcats, and Sundstrom has a 2.11 goals against average and a .711 save percentage in goal.

The Bobcats beat the Pioneers 4-3 at home last season on a late goal, their second straight win over Tusculum, but the Pioneers have a 14-6-1 edge in the all-time series with Lees-McRae.

Newberry begins a stretch of four consecutive home games on Wednesday night against Mount Olive before hosting the Pioneers on Saturday. The Wolves are 3-2-0 overall, matching their win total from last season, and 1-1-0 in the SAC, having beaten Anderson 3-1 on the road last Wednesday and falling 3-1 at Carson-Newman on Saturday. Against Anderson, Liam Marolany scored the go-ahead goal in the 68th minute and Leroy Zeller made eight saves after the Wolves were outshot 21-12 by the Trojans. At Carson-Newman, it looked as though Newberry would go into overtime but the Eagles scored the go-ahead goal with 1:09 left and an insurance tally with 19 seconds left.

Troy Paul is the leading scorer for Newberry with three goals and an assist, with four other players accounting for one goal apiece. Zeller has played all five games in goal for the Wolves and had 26 saves and a 1.40 goals against average, along with five shutouts.

Tusculum has a 18-0-3 lead in the all-time series with Newberry, including a 5-0-3 mark on the road. The Pioneers beat the Wolves 2-0 at home last season for their 13th victory without a loss or tie against Newberry at Pioneer Field.

Devens is tied for eighth in the SAC with two goals and tied for 12th with five points. Devens is also tied for fifth in the conference with nine shots on goal, and is one of seven players in the league who has successfully converted a penalty kick.

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