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SAC-leading Pioneers shut out Coker, 2-0

SAC-leading Pioneers shut out Coker, 2-0

HARTSVILLE, S.C. --- A pair of second-half goals lifted Tusculum College to a 2-0 victory over Coker College in a South Atlantic Conference women's soccer match Wednesday afternoon.

Rachel Roberts and Nyssa Garrison scored just under seven minutes apart for the Pioneers (8-2-2, 6-0-1 SAC), who moved four points clear of Carson-Newman, Wingate and Catawba for first place in the conference with four league matches remaining. Tusculum dominated play against Coker, outshooting the Cobras (2-7-0, 1-6-0 SAC) by a 32-6 margin in a match that was scheduled for this past Saturday but was moved due to the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

The Pioneers peppered 15 shots on the Cobra goal, but keeper Shelby Middleton was able to keep Tusculum off the board until Roberts scored her second goal of the season with 19:55 left. Garrison then added an insurance tally off a cross from Katja Andersson with 12:58 remaining as the Pioneers recorded their fifth consecutive victory, all coming by shutout.

Tusculum did not take its first shot until nearly 11 minutes had passed in the first half, but then had a flurry of six shots in a span of eight minutes that required Middleton to make a pair of saves. The Pioneers finished the first half by taking the final 11 shots to increase their margin to 14-2, but the match was scoreless at intermission thanks to six saves by Middleton.

The Pioneers continued their pressure in the early moments of the second half, but back-to-back shots from Andersson and Cheyenne Upton went off the post and crossbar, respectively, to keep the score tied. The Pioneers had the first nine shots of the second half to increase their edge to 23-2, but Middleton had four more saves in the first eight minutes for the Cobras.

Tusculum finally converted on the first goal of the match at 70:05 when Roberts made a move around a Coker defender and scored to the far side past Middleton for a 1-0 Pioneer lead. The next shot of the match doubled the Pioneer advantage, as Garrison put home the feed from Andersson for her second of the year and a 2-0 Tusculum edge with 12:58 left.

Coker had three corner kicks in the final seven minutes and had two shot attempts, but could not put anything past Pioneer keeper Miriah Martin who had three saves in her fifth straight shutout, sixth of the season and 14th of her career. Martin has not allowed a goal since the second half of the Pioneers' 2-2 draw with Lenoir-Rhyne on Sept. 17, a span of exactly 505 minutes.

The five straight shutouts for the Pioneers had not been done since Sept. 12-22, 2014 when Tusculum had four wins and a tie. The Pioneers had not earned five consecutive shutout wins since Oct. 23-Nov. 5, 2013, when Marissa Williams became the last Pioneer keeper to register five straight clean sheets. The 505-minute scoreless streak is Tusculum's longest since playing 534 minutes, 14 seconds without conceding a goal during the 2014 shutout run.

Tusculum finished the match with a 6-3 edge in corner kicks, while the Cobras were whistled for eight fouls to seven by the Pioneers. Middleton finished the match with 13 saves for the Cobras.

The Pioneers return home to host Mars Hill  Friday afternoon in a SAC match from Pioneer Field, beginning at 5 p.m.

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