Late rally not enough as No. 21 Eagles hold off Tusculum, 2-1

Late rally not enough as No. 21 Eagles hold off Tusculum, 2-1

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Two second half goals and the ability to withstand an offensive rampage in the final 10 minutes of play allowed the 21st-ranked Carson-Newman men's soccer team (13-2-1, 8-2 SAC) to pick up a 2-1 South Atlantic Conference win over the Tusculum Pioneers (8-6-1, 5-4-1 SAC) on Tuesday night at Pioneer Field.

Senior Rurik Pereira and junior Tom Read (London, England) each tallied a goal in C-N's first win over rival Tusculum since 2013. Last season, the two programs met twice with the match ended in a 1-1 tie in the regular season and the Pioneers picking up a 2-1 win in the SAC Tournament, which helped lead Tusculum to the 2014 SAC Tournament title.

With the win, the Eagles assured themselves a second-place finish the SAC and kept their chances of winning a share of the SAC regular season title alive. If Tusculum upsets the Wingate Bulldogs on Friday night, Carson-Newman would have an opportunity to share the conference title; a win or draw for Wingate would give the Bulldogs the regular season title outright.

"I thought the boys just dominated. We had multiple chances to score. Marius had a breakaway, but their keeper showed class with the save. I thought we could have snagged a few more in the second half. It was a quality performance by us," coach Richard Moodie said. "Playing conditions weren't ideal; it's not easy to play on a football that holds patches of water. When we had to show quality, we did. The second goal was a touch of class. Rurik found Tom in the seam and Tom's goal was a touch of class. We showed signs of being the dominant team and the box score does as well."

The match was scoreless after the first 45 minutes of play, but Carson-Newman outshot its rival 9-2.

A Tusculum foul in the 50th-minute set up a free kick for freshman Bruno Andrade (Sao Paulo, Brazil), who sent a cross into the box from near the sideline at the midway line. Andrade's cross found senior James Ward (Trine Cornwell, England), who attempted a shot that was blocked; senior Sindre Welo (Trondheim, Norway) tried to take a shot off Ward's block that was saved by Tusculum goalkeeper Jorge Alvarez. Finally, the ball found the feet of Pereira, who slotted his shot into an open net to give Carson-Newman a 1-0 lead with 40 minutes to play.

Read, the newly-minted Tennessee Sports Writer Association Player of the Week, doubled the Eagles' lead in the 75th-minute. Read took a long through ball from Pereira that led Read to the right side of the box and forced Alvarez to come out and defend the one-on-one opportunity. Read took two dribbles to his right and released a shot that found an empty net for the 2-0 Eagles' advantage.

Tusculum pulled a goal back in the 81st-minute. Pioneer midfielder Rocca Menna took a pass on the right-side at the edge of the 18-yard box, settled the pass and unleashed a shot towards the frame. Menna's shot took a deflection as it sailed towards the net that sent the shot towards the left corner to beat Carson-Newman goalkeeper Kavi Luchowa (London, England) and cut the Eagles' lead to 2-1.

After the Pioneers scored, they attacked the Carson-Newman net until the final whistle. Tusculum recorded two shots in the final six minutes and held the majority of possession.

Carson-Newman outshot the Pioneers 14-9 with six of the Eagles shots landing on frame. Pereira led the team with four shots, while Welo, Read and Andrade each recorded two attempts. Pablo Laguna, Dallas Dunn and Tyler Linkous each had two shots for Tusculum.

Read now leads the SAC with points with 25 after his seventh-goal of the season on Tuesday; the seven goals ties him with Welo for the team lead and is tied for the third in the conference. Pereira has now scored in two-straight contests after scoring the game-winner against Brevard in the 84th-minute on Saturday night.   

The Eagles finish the regular season portion of their schedule with a tilt against the Coker Cobras on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in a contest that could have conference title implications on the line.