Pioneers, Eagles play to 1-1 draw in regular-season finale

Pioneers, Eagles play to 1-1 draw in regular-season finale

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Tusculum University and Carson-Newman University played to a 1-1 draw in South Atlantic Conference men's soccer action Wednesday night at Pioneer Field.

With the tie, the Pioneers (6-6-3, 5-3-2 SAC) clinched the fourth seed in the SAC Championship tournament and will host Anderson in a quarterfinal match on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Eagles (10-3-3, 6-1-3 SAC) won a share of the SAC regular-season championship with Queens and will be the number-one seed, with a home quarterfinal match against Coker on Saturday.

Each team scored in the second half in the evenly-played Senior Night match, which saw Carson-Newman finish with an 11-10 advantage in shots over Tusculum. Henrique Devens scored in the 56th minute to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead, but the Eagles responded in the 83rd minute as Thaylan Silva scored on a free kick.

Neither team mustered up much offense in the first half, putting one shot on goal apiece. Carson-Newman had a shot off a corner kick by Rik van Dijk in the sixth minute, while Tusculum's shot came in the 22nd minute from Edgar Cervantes on a header.

The action picked up in the second half, starting in the 52nd minute on a header by Nikola Vujicic following a corner kick by the Pioneers' Fabian Proesch, but Carson-Newman keeper Bram Kaarsgaren lunged to make the stop.

At 55:45, the Pioneers went ahead 1-0 as Sokho De Souza carried toward the end line on the right side, then crossed through traffic to Devens who went back to the opposite post from 15 yards away for his ninth goal of the season.

Vujicic, who had scored a goal in six straight matches, nearly made it seven in a row in the 59th minute but his diving header was grabbed by Kaarsgaren. Carson-Newman's Tobias Solem Karlsen had a pair of headers that were denied by Tusculum keeper Sam Gilbert, the first in the 60th minute and the second six minutes later.

Tusculum nursed the 1-0 lead into the 83rd minute, when Carson-Newman was awarded a free kick following a foul and subsequent yellow card issued to the Pioneers. On the free kick, Silva rifled a shot from 25 yards for his fifth of the season and a 1-1 deadlock with 7:53 remaining.

The goal by Silva would end up being the last shot on goal in the match for the Eagles, who had one more shot in the second half and one in each of the overtime periods. Tusculum's best chance in overtime came with just under three minutes left in the first extra period, when Devens tried to sneak a shot past Kaarsgaren to the short side but the keeper was able to block the attempt with his legs.

Tusculum was called for 15 fouls in the match and four yellow cards, while Carson-Newman was issued one card and whistled for nine fouls as a team. The Eagles had a 13-6 advantage on corner kicks, but Carson-Newman was flagged six times for offsides compared to three times for Tusculum.

Gilbert finished the match with three saves for the Pioneers, while Kaarsgaren had six stops for the Eagles for the evening.

Tusculum's SAC quarterfinal match with Anderson will be a rematch of the regular-season meeting between the schools on Oct. 6 at Pioneer Field, which the Trojans won by a 1-0 score on a goal by Harry Ward in the 23rd minute. It will also be the second straight year that the Pioneers and Trojans have squared off in the SAC tournament, following their meeting in last year's championship match which Tusculum won by a 2-1 score.