by Benny Benton
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – Barton College upset nationally-ranked No. 23 Tusculum College on the road Saturday evening, 1-0, giving head coach Ian McMichael a big victory in his debut with the program.
Freshmen Ruben Mancio and Pol Monells, both natives of Spain, combined to provide the only score of the game just under six minutes before halftime. After a Tusculum turnover deep in Barton territory, Monells played a through ball to Mancio, who beat Pioneers' keeper Ivan Safranic just inside the left post for the goal.
From there, Barton keeper Jens Madsen Hordvik and the Bulldog defense did the rest.
Hordvik, a two-time all-conference selection, recorded nine saves, including two excellent shots he tipped over the crossbar to preserve the clean sheet.
Tusculum also looked like it would score on a header off a corner kick early in the second half, but Barton defender Alex Blake cleared the ball away just as it was about to cross the line.
"Our effort and determination, especially in the second half as fatigue set in, was tremendous," McMichael said. "We bent a few times but did not break. In an order to pull off a result like this, you need your goalkeeper to make a couple of big saves, and Jens did that tonight. Equally important was his leadership and communication."
The Pioneers were preseason ranked by the United Soccer Coaches after winning the South Atlantic Conference Tournament title last season and posting a 16-4 record.
However, Tusculum could not take advantage of a 19-5 edge in total shots and 10-1 margin in corner kicks against the Bulldogs.
"This result was earned from the hard work the entire roster has put in this preseason, not just from the guys who played today," McMichael said. "We have many areas to improve on, and we'll get back to work on Monday as we prepare for a strong Francis Marion team."
Barton will face the Patriots in Florence, S.C., on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.