MARS HILL, N.C. --- Nikola Vujicic scored for the sixth consecutive match and Tusculum University clinched a berth in the South Atlantic Conference Men's Soccer championship with a 2-0 victory at Mars Hill University Friday night at Meares Stadium.
Edgar Cervantes also scored in the first half for the Pioneers (6-6-2, 5-3-1 SAC), who will have the opportunity to defend their SAC Championship title from last season. Sam Gilbert made four saves in goal for the Pioneers for his second shutout of the season.
Vujicic scored with 3:34 left in the first half to become the first Tusculum player with a goal in six straight matches since Paul Hopkins scored in seven in a row during the 2004 season. Of note, Vujicic has been a substitute during each game of his scoring streak.
The Pioneers went out to a 1-0 lead after 11 minutes on the first shot on target in the match, which Cervantes got behind Lions keeper Brennan Whalen for his fourth goal of the season off an assist by Sokho De Souza.
Mars Hill did not take its first shot until the 27th minute, and did not have a shot on goal until Roberto Haddad was stopped by Tusculum keeper Sam Gilbert in the 30th minute.
In the 42nd minute, Vujicic connected for his seventh goal of the season off a Luke Murphy assist to double the Tusculum lead to 2-0. Tusculum carried the 2-0 lead into halftime with a 7-4 edge in shots over Mars Hill.
The Pioneers had early pressure in the second half, but Whalen made saves on Henrique Devens and Murphy in the 50th minute, followed by a shot off target by Devens. Meanwhile, the Tusculum defense shut down the Mars Hill attack as the Lions had just one shot attempt in the final 30 minutes.
Tusculum outshot Mars Hill 14-9 in the match, with both Gilbert and Whalen finishing with four saves. Tusculum was called for eight fouls and one card, while Mars Hill had seven fouls and a pair of cards. The Lions also had a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks over the Pioneers.
The Pioneers will celebrate Senior Night on Wednesday, November 6 when rival Carson-Newman visits Pioneer Field for a 7:30 p.m. start. The Eagles enter the weekend in sole possession of first place in the SAC standings, three points ahead of second-place Tusculum and Wingate.