GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University men's soccer team has earned the number-three seed in the South Atlantic Conference Championship tournament and will host Wingate University in a quarterfinal match on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Field.
The Pioneers (9-6-1 overall) finished 6-3-1 in SAC matches to claim sole possession of third place in the final standings. Tusculum closed the regular season with a flourish, going 7-1-1 in its final nine matches while outscoring the opposition by a margin of 20-4.
The Bulldogs (8-5-1 overall) tied with Lincoln Memorial and Anderson in the standings with 18 points, but lost the three-way tiebreaker to finish as the sixth seed. Wingate was 6-4-0 in conference matches, but won just one of its five league contests played on the road.
Admission prices for Tuesday's match are $5 for adults and $3 for youth 12 and under, seniors 60 and over and active and retired military, and free for children 5 and under. College students with identification are admitted for $2, with Tusculum students who show valid identification having their admission charge covered by the Tusculum athletic department.
Tusculum leads the all-time series with Wingate by a 13-10-1 margin, though the teams have split their 10 meetings at Pioneer Field. The Pioneers are 5-1 against the Bulldogs in the SAC Championship tournament, including wins in the finals in 1999 and 2016 and a loss in the 2002 title match.
The regular-season meeting between the Pioneers and Bulldogs was won by host Wingate by a 1-0 score on Sept. 22 as Oscar Perez scored in the 37th minute and Pablo Jara made two saves in the shutout.
Leading the offense for the Pioneers are senior forward Ayuk Tambe and junior midfielder Henrique Devens, with six goals apiece. Senior forward Dario Ljubic has four goals and three assists, and senior midfielder Shawn Foster comes into the postseason having scored three of his four goals in his last two matches.
In goal, junior Alejandro Quiriti has recorded an 8-5-1 record in 14 starts with a 0.91 goals against average and a .740 save percentage. Quiriti earned six of his SAC-best eight shutouts in conference play, with a 0.68 goals against average.
Wingate, which won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2016, is led by junior midfielder Elliot Cutts with six goals and two assists for 14 points. Senior forward Nate Evans has contributed five goals to a Wingate offense that has scored just 24 goals in 14 matches.
The strength of the club is in goal, where three-time All-American Jara boasts a sparkling 0.82 career goals against average and has 32 career shutouts in 74 appearances. Jara ranks sixth in the SAC in goals against average this season at 1.54 and has allowed three or more goals in four of his last six starts.
The winner of Tuesday's match will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of the quarterfinal match between second-seeded Queens and seventh-seeded Carson-Newman. The semifinal match will be played Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and the championship match is slated for Sunday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. at Manchester Meadows. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament.
2018 South Atlantic Conference Men's Soccer Championship
Tuesday, Oct. 30 (at Highest Seeds)
Game 1: #8 Coker at #1 Lenoir-Rhyne, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: #5 Lincoln Memorial at #4 Anderson, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: #7 Carson-Newman at #2 Queens, 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: #6 Wingate at #3 Tusculum, 7:00 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 2 (Manchester Meadows, Rock Hill, S.C.)
Game 5: winner game 1 vs. winner game 2, 4:30 p.m.
Game 6: winner game 3 vs. winner game 4, 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 4 (Manchester Meadows, Rock Hill, S.C.)
Game 7: winner game 5 vs. winner game 6, 4:00 p.m.