Pioneers unable to equalize in 2-1 loss to LMU

Nikola Vujicic scores his fourth goal of the season early in the second half against Lincoln Memorial (photo by Mikala Brown)
Nikola Vujicic scores his fourth goal of the season early in the second half against Lincoln Memorial (photo by Mikala Brown)

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- Lincoln Memorial University defeated Tusculum University 2-1 in South Atlantic Conference men's soccer action at Pioneer Field Wednesday night.

Kasimir Lauber scored the go-ahead goal with just under 21 minutes remaining while the Railsplitters (4-5-3, 3-2-1 SAC) played a man up against the Pioneers (3-6-2, 2-3-1 SAC). Tusculum had tied the match early in the second half on the third goal in as many games by Nikola Vujicic, but could not find the equalizer after the teams were brought to 10 aside with just over ten minutes remaining.

Both teams finished with 11 shots in the match, but it was Lauber's blast from 20 yards with 20:43 remaining that was the difference. Ueslei Silva also scored for the Railsplitters late in the first half as LMU had a 6-4 edge in shots on target.

Lincoln Memorial had five of its seven corner kicks in a nine-minute span early in the first half, but could not get a shot attempt on any of them. Tusculum's first good chance came in the 21st minute, as a shot from close range by Sander Johansen was stopped by Lincoln Memorial keeper Robin Hermann.

The Railsplitters nearly took the lead in the 27th minute as Hunter Stroble broke down the right side and shot toward the far post by Tusculum keeper Sam Gilbert, but went just wide as the match remained scoreless. Gilbert had saves on Stroble in the 29th minute and on a header from Kriton Kiousis in the 31st minute.

With just 2:34 left until halftime, Lincoln Memorial went up 1-0 as Lauber made a long pass downfield to Silva, who blasted from 25 yards over Gilbert for his fourth goal of the season. The lead would go into halftime as LMU outshot Tusculum 6-5 in the opening half.

The Pioneers nearly tied the match just 2 1/2 minutes into the second half, but Hermann dove toward the far post to stop a shot from Sokho De Souza. Just over a minute later, Dani Gongora made a long service to Vujicic in the box, and after one touch went far post by Hermann for his fourth of the season and a 1-1 tie with 40:45 remaining.

Tusculum's momentum was halted in the 58th minute as a hard foul resulted in a red card and a man down for the Pioneer defense. Just past the midway point of the half, the Railsplitters went up 2-1 as Lauber collected a blocked shot and rifled home his first goal of the season from 20 yards away with 20:43 to play.

A scuffle in the 80th minute resulted in the dismissal of an LMU player, and evened the sides at ten men apiece. Despite regaining their equilibrium, the Pioneers would have just one shot attempt over the final 10 minutes and none on goal as the Railsplitters were able to run out the clock.

Gilbert finished with four saves for the Pioneers, while Hermann made three stops for the Railsplitters. LMU was flagged nine times for offsides to three for the Pioneers, while Tusculum was called for 18 fouls to seven for Lincoln Memorial.

With their four-match homestand concluded, the Pioneers will return to the road on Saturday to play Catawba in a SAC match starting at 8 p.m.