GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Henrique Devens became the first Tusculum University player to score a hat trick in more than 10 years as the Pioneers beat Coker University 5-2 in South Atlantic Conference men's soccer action Sunday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
Devens scored in the 21st, 62nd and 77th minutes and also assisted on a goal by Nikola Vujicic in the 83rd minute for the Pioneers (5-6-2, 4-3-1 SAC), who moved into a four-way tie for fifth place in the conference standings with two games remaining in the regular season. Edgar Cervantes also scored for the Pioneers, who scored six goals in their previous game against Catawba on Oct. 19. The 11 goals in a two-game span is the most for Tusculum since netting 12 in two matches in the 2005 season.
Vujicic became the first Pioneer to score a goal in five consecutive matches since Bruno Conceicao accomplished the feat in 2008. Vujicic has been a substitute in each of the five games during his streak, which ties Conceicao for the longest by a Pioneer since Paul Hopkins scored in seven straight contests during the 2004 season.
The last Pioneer before Devens to score three goals in a single match was Anteneh Lemma, who scored three times in a 7-0 victory over Brevard on Sept. 23, 2009. He is also the first Pioneer to score three goals and an assist in a match since Conceicao against Newberry on Sept. 29, 2007.
Tusculum was held without a shot until the 10th minute, then took the lead on its second and third shots of the first half just 48 seconds apart. In the 21st minute, Devens collected a loose ball in the box and beat Coker keeper Guilermo Falo-Ejea to the right for his sixth of the year and a 1-0 Tusculum lead. Less than a minute later, a long pass from the defensive end by Georgios Charkoutsakis came to the feet of Cervantes, who one-timed a shot to the far post for this third of the year and a quick 2-0 Pioneer advantage.
The Pioneers had the two best chances over the final 20 minutes of the first half, as Sander Johansen was denied by Falo-Ejea on a blast from the top of the box in the 29th minute and a shot from outside the six by Luke Murphy was smothered in the 42nd minute.
The Tusculum lead increased to 3-0 at 61:24 as Devens beat the Coker defender from the left side, then sneaked a short-side shot past Falo-Ejea for his second goal of the afternoon. Less than two minutes later, the Cobras got on the board as Robi Obrstar beat Tusculum keeper Sam Gilbert off the far post following a corner kick by Markos Touroukis.
The Cobras nearly cut the deficit to one shortly after Obrstar's goal, but Christian Provenzano shot just wide of the far post in the 65th minute and Gilbert smothered a shot from close range off the foot of Jacques-Fokam Sandeu in the 67th minute. Provenzano then had a chance off a corner kick in the 68th minute, but Tusculum's Clement Dagorn cleared the line. Another try on a break by the defense from Provenzano in the 77th minute was scuttled by Gilbert.
Moments later, the Pioneers built their lead to 4-1 with 23:30 left as Cervantes passed over the Coker defense to a breaking Devens, who went to the far post past Falo-Ejea for the hat trick. Coker responded at 80:32 on another corner kick from Touroukis, which was headed home by Steffen Husum. Vujicic closed the scoring just under two minutes after Husum's goal as Devens led him on a breakaway and he went near side by Falo-Ejea with 7:33 to go.
Tusculum and Coker each finished the afternoon with 14 shot attempts, while Coker had a 12-5 advantage in corner kicks. The Pioneers were called for 10 fouls to nine for the Cobras, while Coker had a 4-2 lead in offsides calls.
Gilbert ended the afternoon with five saves on seven shots on goal for the Pioneers, while Falo-Ejea tallied four saves on nine Tusculum shots on target.
Tusculum will travel to Mars Hill for a match with the Lions on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m., then will host Carson-Newman on Senior Night on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Field.