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Top-ranked Young Harris holds off Tusculum 2-1 in NCAA second round

Tusculum soccer

Top-ranked Young Harris College advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Tournament with a 2-1 victory over Tusculum University Sunday afternoon in a Southeast Region semifinal match.

The top-seeded Mountain Lions (17-0-1) were outshot 9-6 by the Pioneers (13-7-1) but made the most of the two shots they put on goal, as Macauley King scored in the first half and Kevin Coiffic in the second half to help Young Harris move on to the Southeast Region final next weekend against Lander, which beat Anderson 1-0 in double overtime in the other region semifinal.

Tusculum, seeded fourth in the region, made a late rally on a goal by Rian Marques with 1:02 left, but Young Harris was able to get through the final minute and snap the Pioneers' streak of seven consecutive victories.

Despite being outshot, Young Harris had a 9-4 advantage in corner kicks over Tusculum in the match. The teams combined for 36 fouls and five yellow cards in a match that became increasingly physical in the second half.

The Mountain Lions had four corner kicks in the first 19 minutes, but the Pioneer defense was able to keep the ball clear of the goal without allowing a shot. The first shot attempt for either team came at 20:55 and gave Young Harris a 1-0 lead, as James Thomas and Carlos Gomez worked the ball in front for King, who put home his second goal of the season past Sam Gilbert for a 1-0 Mountain Lion lead.

Tusculum's first shot came in the 24th minute off the foot of Henrique Devens, but Young Harris keeper Alex Iglesias made the save. Shawn Foster had a chance from the top of the box in the 28th minute, but Iglesias was able to go to his right to smother the shot. A free kick set up another scoring chance for the Pioneers with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half, but a header from Georgios Charkoutsakis went wide of target.

More pressure came from Tusculum in the final three minutes of the half, as a long throw-in by Foster went to the box and created an opportunity for Mathias Grimstad, but his blast from in tight went high of the crossbar.

Tusculum finished the first half with a 4-1 edge in shots over Young Harris, and was called for six fouls to four for the Mountain Lions. Iglesias was credited with two saves in the opening half for Young Harris, while Gilbert had zero stops.

The Pioneers wasted little time of the second half to generate their best offensive chance of the game to that point. A corner kick by Fabian Proesch went through to Edgar Cervantes, whose diving header back toward the near post was blocked away by Iglesias on a reaction save.

In the 69th minute, the Mountain Lions had a free kick from close to the end line, which was headed wide of target by Alex Gschwend. Tusculum had a look with under eight minutes to play on a header by Marques that went wide to the left.

Young Harris was able to add an insurance goal with 5:31 left as a corner kick by Dani Fischer was headed home by Coiffic at the far post for his third goal of the season and a 2-0 Mountain Lions lead.

Tusculum restored a glimmer of hope with 1:02 left as Marques headed home a free kick from Proesch for his second goal of the season. The Pioneers had possession in the closing seconds and sent a cross from the far left side which Iglesias went up to grab as players from both teams swarmed around him, after which Young Harris was able to run out the clock.

Iglesias had three saves in goal for Young Harris, while Gilbert had zero saves while showing composure in goal in just his third start of the season for Tusculum. The Pioneers had lost to the Mountain Lions 4-0 in a regular-season meeting at home back on September 5.

The loss snapped an impressive run for the Pioneers, who were 2-5-0 on September 22 but finished the regular season with seven wins and a draw in their last nine matches. Tusculum then won three matches to claim its record seventh South Atlantic Conference Championship tournament title, then rallied to beat Queens 3-2 in the NCAA first round on Friday night for its first NCAA win since 2008.

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