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Second-half goals send Pioneers to 2-1 win over Wingate

Nikola Vujicic scored the winning goal in the 64th minute against Wingate (photo by Chuck Williams)
Nikola Vujicic scored the winning goal in the 64th minute against Wingate (photo by Chuck Williams)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Second-half goals from Sokho De Souza and Nikola Vujicic rallied Tusculum University to a 2-1 win over Wingate University in South Atlantic Conference men's soccer action at Pioneer Field Sunday afternoon.

De Souza scored in the 58th minute and Vujicic followed just under six minutes later for the Pioneers (3-5-2, 2-2-1 SAC), who trailed 1-0 before the Bulldogs had a player sent off in the 53rd minute. Wingate (6-2-2, 3-2-1 SAC) opened the scoring in the 38th minute on a goal from Mikkel Fahlen Bruun, but saw the lead slip away in losing at Pioneer Field for the third time in its last four visits.

Tusculum finished the match with a 13-10 advantage in shots over Wingate, including 10-8 in the second half. Pioneer keeper Sam Gilbert had two saves in the win, while the Bulldogs' Jens Bergendorff came up with four saves.

Neither team had a shot attempt until the 17th minute, when Gilbert came off his line to knock away a shot attempt from the Bulldogs' Elliot Cutts. Tusculum's first shot came moments later from Edgar Cervantes, but it was blocked by the defense.

In the 38th minute, Cutts found Bruun on a through ball, and he chipped over Gilbert from 15 yards away for his second goal of the season and a 1-0 Wingate lead. The goal would be the final shot of the first half, which saw Tusculum hold a modest 3-2 edge in attempts.

The game's momentum changed early in the second half, as Wingate's Devin Scully was issued a yellow card in the 52nd minute. Just two minutes later, a hard foul resulted in another card to Scully and his ejection with 36:57 remaining to be played.

The Pioneer attack strengthened with the man advantage, and Vujicic was stopped by Bergendorff in the 56th minute. Two minutes later, Henrique Devens carried the ball down the left side and crossed through the box to De Souza, who fired back off the far post and into the net for his first goal of the year and a 1-1 deadlock with 32:18 remaining.

Tusculum continued to bring the offense after De Souza's goal, earning three corner kicks in a minute's span and nearly scoring off the third as a header from Cervantes was grabbed by Bergendorff.

The Pioneers then netted the go-ahead goal with 26:30 to play as Bergendorff came off his line to track down a bouncing pass, but Devens beat the defender to the spot and chipped a pass over Bergendorff to Vujicic, who had streaked behind the defense and headed home his third of the year and second in as many games.

Now trailing, Wingate quickly looked to re-level the score and nearly did a minute after Vujicic's goal as Cutts was open inside the six but chipped over the crossbar. Gilbert came up with a sprawling save on Mattia DiTommaso in the 70th minute, and the Pioneer defense knocked down a chance by Stuart Hendry with Gilbert recovering.

The Bulldogs continued to seek the equalizer but put two shots off the framework, one on a blast from Niclas Vittur that hit the near post in the 75th minute and the second a bicycle kick off a corner from Neophytos Scottis in the 81st minute that caromed off the crossbar. However, the Pioneer defense locked down in the closing minutes and did not allow a shot attempt in the final eight minutes.

Wingate was whistled for 14 fouls to 11 for the Pioneers, and the Bulldogs were shown four of the seven cards issued in the match. Wingate had a 6-5 edge in corner kicks, but the Bulldogs were called three times for offsides to two by the Pioneers.

Tusculum will wrap up a stretch of four straight home matches on Wednesday night against Lincoln Memorial, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Field.






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