#1 Wingate defeats #25 Tusculum 2-1 in conference, regional showdown

#1 Wingate defeats #25 Tusculum 2-1 in conference, regional showdown

WINGATE, N.C. --- Top-ranked Wingate University completed a perfect regular season with a 2-1 victory over 25th-ranked Tusculum College in a South Atlantic Conference men's soccer match Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (14-0-0, 11-0-0 SAC) scored twice in the first 26 minutes, then limited the Pioneers (13-3-0, 8-3-0 SAC) to five shot attempts in the matchup between the top two teams in the NCAA Southeast Region rankings to earn their 14th straight victory. Wingate will host Brevard in the quarterfinal round of the SAC Tournament Tuesday night.

Tyler Linkous scored the lone goal for the Pioneers, who are the number-two seed in the SAC Tournament and will host Mars Hill in a quarterfinal match Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Field.

Wingate scored on the first shot of the game, which was an own goal from the Pioneers as a cross by Nate Evans was inadvertantly headed home by the Tusculum defense at 12:23 for a 1-0 Bulldog lead.

After a round of offense pressure by Wingate produced two shots on goal and a corner kick, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 2-0 at 25:18 as Aksel Juul scored his fifth goal of the season off assists from Mateo Correa and Jon Ander.

Tusculum got its first shot attempt in the 27th minute off the foot of Andre De Giorgi, and cut the deficit in half at 31:52 as Linkous put home a rebound of a save by Wingate goalkeeper Pablo Jara for his third of the season. Wingate led 2-1 at the half and had a 6-4 edge in shots over the Pioneers.

In the second half, Tusculum could muster just one shot attempt which came from De Giorgi in the 58th minute and went wide of the Wingate goal. Tusculum keeper Jorge Alvarez kept the Pioneers in the contest by making four saves in each half, but Wingate's defense denied Tusculum at every turn as Jara finished with one save.

Wingate finished the match with a 10-5 advantage in shots, with all 10 of their attempts ending on goal. The Pioneers were called for 13 fouls to 12 by the Bulldogs, and each team was shown two yellow cards. Wingate also had a 5-3 edge in corner kicks in the contest.

Tusculum and Mars Hill will meet in the SAC Tournament for the third time in the last five seasons. The Lions beat the Pioneers 2-0 in the quarterfinal round in 2012, but Tusculum came back in 2014 with a memorable win in penalty kicks in the semifinals en route to the tournament championship.