The Spring Hill College men's soccer team clinched the first winning season in the 20-year history of its program on Saturday with a 2-1 conference victory over visiting Emmanuel College at Library Field.
Freshman Mario Escalante of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, broke open a scoreless first half with a goal off an assist by senior Gable Fortune of St. Louis, Mo., in the 41st minute of play.
The Badgers scored an insurance goal in the 52nd minute when senior John Tanner of Gulf Shores, Ala., followed his sideline throw-in toward the goal and was rewarded for his effort when he headed a rebounded ball back into Fortune who drilled the ball into the net from five yards out.
The second goal by Tanner and Fortune would prove crucial when the Lions (7-6, 1-6 SSAC) scored a goal off the foot of Andres Mora in the 56th minute to cut the Badger advantage to just 2-1.
A hard-fought defensive struggle dominated the final 34 minutes of play with both goalkeepers making extraordinary saves. A late save by SHC freshman keeper Patrick Danner of Tampa, Fla., was the mirror image of a save he made on Friday when he punched a sure goal over the crossbar to keep Spring Hill ahead by a score.
Danner finished with four saves against 17 Emmanuel shots while his counterpart, Anel Lilic, recorded eight saves against 15 Badger shots. EC took four corner kicks and the Badgers attempted just two corner opportunities.
Spring Hill (10-3, 5-2) will next travel to the state capital on Tuesday to face 18th ranked Auburn University Montgomery (8-4-1, 6-1) in an SSAC showdown at the AUM Soccer Complex beginning at 3:30 p.m.