GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University men's soccer team faces an uphill battle in its effort to defend its South Atlantic Conference tournament championship, following a pair of league losses last week.
The Pioneers fell 2-1 to Queens and 1-0 to Anderson to drop to 1-2-1 in the SAC and 2-5-1 overall, but Tusculum will be home this week for a pair of games -- a non-conference matchup with Shaw on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and a SAC battle with Wingate on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
In a rematch of the first round of last year's NCAA Division II Tournament, Queens avenged their loss to Tusculum with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday night. The Pioneers trailed 2-0 at halftime but cut the deficit to 2-1 on a goal by Edgar Cervantes in the 60th minute. Sam Gilbert had seven saves in goal for the Pioneers in the loss.
On Sunday, the Pioneers hosted Anderson in another rematch, this one of last year's SAC Championship tournament final which Tusculum won 2-1. However, this time the Trojans were victorious by a score of 1-0 on a goal midway through the first half. The Pioneers outshot the Trojans 12-7, but wound up being shutout for just the second time in eight matches.
Shaw, which snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-3 draw against King last Tuesday, earned its first win since the season opener with a 4-0 victory at Mars Hill on Saturday. Brandon Linares scored in the first half and the Bears added three goals in the final 30 minutes for the win. Theo Delaleu made three saves for his first shutout of the year.
The Bears are led on offense by Linares, who has four goals and two assists, along with Danny Cameron who has three goals. Delaleu has compiled a 2.28 goals against average and made 41 saves in eight starts for the Bears. Shaw, which plays an independent schedule, is facing Tusculum for the first time.
Wingate opened the season with five wins and two ties before falling for the first time at Newberry on Saturday by a 3-2 score. The teams exchanged penalty kick goals in the first half, before the Wolves scored twice in 18 minutes to go up 3-1. Mattia Ditommaso got a goal back for the Bulldogs in the 71st minute, but the Wolves held on for the win to drop Wingate to 5-1-2 overall and 3-1-1 in the SAC. Wingate enters the week ranked fourth in the Southeast Region by the United Soccer Coaches, one of five SAC schools in the regional poll.
The Bulldogs, who played at Mount Olive on Wednesday night, are led on offense by Elliot Cutts with six goals and by Paul Ngongo who has five goals and two assists. Jens Bergendorff has played every minute in goal for Wingate and has three shutouts and a 1.08 goals against average. The Bulldogs are 14-12-0 all-time against the Pioneers, including a 3-1 loss at Pioneer Field in last year's SAC quarterfinals.
Henrique Devens, who had his streak of four straight games with a goal come to an end at Queens, is tied for seventh in the SAC with four goals and tied for tenth with nine points. Gilbert is eighth in goals against average at 1.33 and seventh in save percentage at .733.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.