GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum University men's soccer team earned its second straight shutout to open the 2018 season with a 3-0 victory over King University Sunday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
The Pioneers (2-0-0) struck for two goals just over three minutes apart midway through the first half, and goalkeeper Alejandro Quiriti saved a penalty kick in the second half to preserve the clean sheet for Tusculum. The Pioneers had never opened a season with two consecutive shutout wins in recorded school history.
Rian Marques, Henrique Devens and Sander Johansen scored goals for the Pioneers, who outshot the Tornado (1-1-0) by a 12-9 margin and extended their unbeaten streak over King to nine matches (six wins, three ties) dating to 2000.
Playing in oppressive heat and humidity that necessitated hydration breaks midway through each half, the teams came out cautiously and failed to record a shot until the Pioneers' Clement Dagorn headed a cross wide in the 16th minute.
The first shot on goal for either team wound up in the Tornado net, as Pau Peiro delivered a long service perfectly to Marques in the box, who chipped home his first goal in a Pioneer uniform at 20:13.
After the hydration break at exactly 23 minutes, the refreshed Pioneers needed just 38 seconds to score as Devens fielded a pass from sub Jonny Winter and beat Tornado keeper Dalton Gammon off the far post and across the line for a 2-0 Tusculum lead.
Devens nearly gave the Pioneers a 3-0 lead in the 36th minute as his rebound attempt off a Winter shot was cleared from the front of the goal by the Tornado's Ty Trikones. Devens threatened again in the 42nd minute, but his quick try from 15 yards was answered by Gammon.
King's first shot attempt came with just under four minutes to play in the half, as Lucas Lavender cranked a blast off the top of the crossbar behind Quiriti. That would be the only shot of the half for the Tornado, who were outshot 7-1 by the Pioneers in the opening 45 minutes.
The Tornado would have no better chance to score than with 18:54 left in the match, after Michael Young was fouled in the box. Carlos Saavedra stepped up to take the penalty kick but was denied as Quiriti guessed lower left and made the save. Saavedra recovered to take a shot at the rebound, but Quiriti sprawled to his right to make a second save, and the third attempt from King's Adonis Wheeler was sailed left of the frame.
After the close call, the Pioneers pressed to find an insurance goal and nearly found it as Shawn Foster almost caught Gammon looking for a pass and put a short shot off the right post in the 73rd minute. It would be Johansen who delivered the third goal at 80:34 as he headed home a cross from Ayuk Tambe to extend the Tusculum lead.
Devens nearly got his second of the afternoon just 39 seconds after Johansen's goal, but Gammon repelled the try near the right post on a dive. Saavedra had the final attempt for the Tornado in the closing 20 seconds, but his shot went wide right and Quiriti held the goal kick as time expired.
Tusculum was called for 16 fouls in the match to eight by King, and had a 4-2 edge in corner kicks. The Pioneers' offensive aggression was reflected in the linesman's flag being displayed for offsides a total of eight times in the match.
Quiriti, who had four saves in the Pioneers' season-opening 1-0 win over Emmanuel on Friday night, finished with four more saves in Sunday's win. Gammon also had four saves in goal for the Tornado.
Tusculum will play its third straight home game when the Pioneers welcome Young Harris on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Mountain Lions were ranked 11th in the United Soccer Coaches Division II preseason top 25 and have also opened the season with two straight shutout wins, beating Belmont Abbey 3-0 and Southern Wesleyan 5-0.