GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Anderson University scored three goals in the final 21 minutes to defeat Tusculum University 3-1 in the quarterfinals of the South Atlantic Conference Men's Soccer Championship tournament Sunday afternoon at Pioneer Field.
The fifth-seeded Trojans (11-5-1) avenged a loss to the Pioneers in last year's SAC Championship final and advanced to face eighth-seeded Coker in the semifinals on Friday at Matthews, North Carolina. The Pioneers (6-7-3), who were seeded fourth in the tournament, were seeking their fourth tournament championship in the last six seasons.
The match was scoreless until the 70th minute when a goal by the Trojans' Daniel Heinrich was answered less than 90 seconds later by the Pioneers' Luke Murphy. However, Myles Duncan gave Anderson the lead for good with exactly 16 minutes to play and Colin Burris added an insurance goal with 2:33 left.
In the first half, Burris had the first shot attempt which went wide off the header in the fifth minute. Tusculum's first shot came by Edgar Cervantes in the 13th minute off a corner kick but was wide of the target. The first shot on goal came in the 20th minute off the foot of Tusculum's Clement Dagorn from distance, but was collected by Anderson keeper Gal Elyashiv.
The best scoring chances for either team came in a span of 30 seconds in the 37th minute. A corner kick by the Trojans came across the box to Ryan Tyrer, whose header was stopped by a lunging Sam Gilbert near the far post. On the ensuing push downfield, Murphy got behind the defense and chipped over Elyashiv toward the goal, but Tyrer raced back and cleared the ball just before it crossed the line.
Anderson had the final two shots of the first half, as Lucas Mostajo rifled a shot over the crossbar from 20 yards away in the 40th minute and Harry Ward was stopped by Gilbert with just over two minutes remaining. Anderson finished the half with a 5-4 advantage in shots over Tusculum, but with no goals on the scoreboard.
In the second half, the Pioneers' Nikola Vujicic tested Elyashiv nearly four minute in, but the save was made with a dive toward the left post. Vujicic nearly converted in the 57th minute on a lunging header, but the ball caromed off the outside of the near post and out of play.
A loose ball led to the first goal of the afternoon at 69:14, as Heinrich collected the carom and turned to beat Gilbert from an angle for his first goal of the season and a 1-0 Trojans lead. The lead last for exactly 85 seconds as Vujicic sprung Pau Peiro down the left side, who crossed to Murphy on the far side for the shot past Elyashiv and a 1-1 deadlock at 70:39. The goal for Murphy was his first of the season after a number of close calls throughout the year.
However, Anderson regained the lead just 3 1/2 minutes later by scoring on the third consecutive shot of the match. A long pass from Martin Carpena found Duncan in a one-on-one with the defense, and he broke free and beat Gilbert from near the top of the box for his first of the season and a 2-1 Trojans lead with exactly 16 minutes to go.
Tusculum began to press for the tying goal as time ran down, but were flagged for offsides in the 77th and 79th minutes. With just under nine minutes to go, a turnover helped set up Henrique Devens near the top of the box, but his shot trickled wide of the left post as Elyashiv had come off his line. The shot attempt by Devens would turn out to be Tusculum's final shot of the afternoon.
Anderson looked for an insurance goal in the final minutes and found it with 2:33 to go. A cross was deflected by the Tusculum defense to Anderson's Alexander Cox-Ashwood, who set up Burris straight away from 25 yards for his fourth of the season and a 3-1 lead for the Trojans.
The statistics were nearly even for most of the match, at one point in the second half being identical in both shots, saves, corners, fouls and offsides. The shots finished deadlocked at 10 apiece while Tusculum was called for 16 fouls to 15 by Anderson. The Pioneers also had a 5-4 edge in corner kicks, but were flagged six times for offsides compared to three by Anderson.
Gilbert finished the afternoon with four saves in goal for the Pioneers, while Elyashiv had two saves for the Trojans.