Pioneers host Coker in key SAC matchup Sunday

Pioneers host Coker in key SAC matchup Sunday

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Three games in three weeks remain for the Tusculum University men's soccer team as they have an opportunity to climb into the top eight and earn a berth in the upcoming South Atlantic Conference playoffs.

Fresh off a season-high for goals in a 6-3 win at Catawba on Saturday night, the Pioneers (4-6-2, 3-3-1 SAC) welcome Coker to Pioneer Field for their only match of the week on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.

Tusculum begins the week tied for sixth place in the SAC with Anderson and Lincoln Memorial at 3-3-1, but both the Trojans and Railsplitters own the season tiebreaker over the Pioneers via head-to-head victories.

In a match that was even on the stat sheet, it was a goal in the 70th minute by Lincoln Memorial with a man up that gave the Railsplitters a 2-1 victory Wednesday night at Pioneer Field. Nikola Vujicic continued his scoring surge with a goal in the 50th minute, his third in as many matches. Both teams finished with 11 shot attempts and Sam Gilbert made four saves in goal for the Pioneers in the loss.

On Saturday, Tusculum scored three goals in each half of a 6-3 win at Catawba. Sokho De Souza scored two goals, Vujicic scored in a fourth straight game and Edgar Cervantes had two assists for the Pioneers, who peppered 22 shots on the Indians' goal. Sander Johansen, Pau Peiro and Henrique Devens also scored for the Pioneers, with Peiro's goal his first in 63 career matches.

Coker (7-5-0, 3-4-0 SAC) is directly behind Tusculum in the SAC standings, the first of three teams out of the top eight with nine points. Coker has lost three straight matches since climbing into the national rankings at 15th, including a 1-0 double-overtime loss to Carson-Newman on Oct. 12 and back-to-back 2-1 losses to Newberry and Queens last week.

The Cobras, who are also idle this week before facing the Pioneers, are led on offense by Christian Provenzano who is tied for the SAC lead in both goals and points with 10 goals and three assists for 23 points in 11 matches. In six conference matches, Provenzano has scored six goals including two each against Anderson and Catawba. Provenzano had a streak of seven straight matches with a goal come to an end in the loss to Carson-Newman.

In goal, junior Guilermo Falo Ejea has started all 12 matches and has a 1.22 goals against average and an .817 save percentage, with five shutouts for the Cobras.

Remarkably, the road team has won all six regular-season meetings in the series since Coker joined the SAC in 2013. Last year, the Pioneers won at Coker 6-0 in the regular-season finale. The teams also met in the 2016 SAC Championship tournament semifinals, with the Pioneers winning by a 2-0 score.

Devens and Vujicic share the team lead with five goals apiece, with Vujicic currently matching Devens for the longest goal-scoring streak on the team this season with four in a row. Devens is tied for sixth in the SAC in points with 14 and is tied for fourth with 35 shot attempts.

Gilbert, who has started nine straight matches for the Pioneers, is ninth in the SAC in goals against average at 1.61 and ranks eighth in save percentage at .686.

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