GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Both Tusculum University and Carson-Newman University have plenty to play for when the schools clash in men's soccer Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Field for the final match of the 2019 regular season.
The Pioneers and the Eagles are both assured berths in upcoming South Atlantic Conference Men's Soccer Championship tournament, but seeding is at stake with Wednesday's outcome. For Carson-Newman, a win would give the Eagles the outright SAC regular-season championship, while a draw would ensure no worse than a tie with Queens while retaining the top seed in the tournament for Carson-Newman.
Tusculum, which will celebrate Senior Night prior to the game, will look to earn a home match in Saturday's quarterfinal round. A win over their rivals would lock up a top-four finish in the standings for Tusculum. The Pioneers could still earn a home contest with a draw on Wednesday, or could fall as far as seventh in the standings with a loss depending on results of other matches.
RECAPPING THE WEEK
The Pioneers won their third straight match on Friday night with a 2-0 victory at Mars Hill. Edgar Cervantes scored for the second straight game to open the scoring in the 11th minute, and Nikola Vujicic made it six matches in a row with a goal as he gave the Pioneers a 2-0 lead in the 42nd minute. Sam Gilbert had four saves in goal for his second shutout of the season for Tusculum.
The three straight wins for Tusculum are a season high and left the Pioneers with a 3-1-1 record in away conference matches for the season. Tusculum is 2-2-0 at home in league action heading into Wednesday's contest with Carson-Newman.
Carson-Newman (10-3-2, 6-1-2 SAC) had a chance to win the outright SAC championship on Saturday against Wingate at home, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw with the 19th-ranked Bulldogs. The Eagles led 1-0 after 13 minutes and 2-1 in the 51st minute, but the Bulldogs responded with goals in the 34th and 72nd minutes to walk away with the draw.
The leading scorer for the Eagles has been Thaylan Silva, who has registered four goals and a SAC-best eight assists for 16 points. Tobias Solem Karlsen is the team leader in goals with six, while 17 different players on the Carson-Newman roster have registered either a goal or an assist. Bram Kaarsgaren has made 14 starts in goal and leads the SAC in both goals against average (0.89) and save percentage (.822).
Wednesday's match will mark the first time that the Pioneers have concluded their SAC regular-season schedule against the Eagles. Tusculum leads the series 17-13 with five draws, including a 1-0 win on the road last season and a 2-0 victory in the SAC semifinals.
Vujicic has scored seven goals this season, including each of the last six matches. His six-goal streak is the longest for a Pioneer since Paul Hopkins scored in seven in a row during the 2004 season. Vujicic has been a substitute in each of those six matches, and has played just 258 of the 540 minutes over that span.
Henrique Devens was kept off the scoreboard against Mars Hill, but is tied for fourth in the SAC in goals with eight and tied for third in points with 21. Devens is one of seven players who have scored six goals in conference matches, and his 16 points in league play is tied for the conference lead.
Gilbert has moved into seventh in the SAC in goals against average at 1.51 and is also seventh in save percentage at .710. He has played every second in goal during the conference schedule for the Pioneers and ranks seventh in goals against at 1.39.
Links to live stats and video for Tusculum University athletic events can be found through tusculumpioneers.com.