HARROGATE, Tenn. — Senior striker Mario Pinto recorded a hat trick, moving into a tie for third place on LMU’s career goals scored list, to lead the Railsplitters to a 4-1 victory over the Trevecca Nazarene Trojans in non-conference action on Thursday. Lincoln Memorial University improves its record to 7-6-1, while the Trojans drop to 6-5-1.
Pinto headlined a scoring flourish for the Railsplitters, netting goals in the 4th, 84th and 90th minutes to record his first hat trick of the 2013 season. With three scores in the match, the reigning South Atlantic Conference Player of the Year takes over the league lead with 11 goals and moves into a tie for third in career goals scored in the history of the LMU men’s soccer program. Pinto has amassed 45 goals in three seasons and sits just three shy of matching Frederico Moojen and John Payette’s shared school record.
Pinto posted his first goal early in the match, recovering a deflection in the box following an LMU corner kick at the 3:13 mark where he poked the ball past the Trojan netminder. The Uberlandia, Brazil, native put the match away with two goals in the final ten minutes of regulation. Pinto used a chip pass from Yuri Passos and drove a goal home from 15 yards out in the 84th minute, and he added another scored with only 45 seconds left, receiving a cross from Nick Boegemann to tally his third score of the afternoon.
Leonardo da Silva provided LMU’s other goal in the match, as the sophomore forward broke through in the 48th minute with a header past the TNU defense. Da Silva’s score was setup by a beautiful cross into the box by freshman Keegan Sanders. It was da Silva’s third goal of the season and Sanders’ first assist of his collegiate career.
The Trojans briefly threatened to draw back in the match late in regulation, as Jeremiah Wright put TNU on the board in the 80th minute with a goal. Matthew Esquivel opened the scoring lane for Wright by pushing forward to draw LMU keeper Marcel Barwanietz to the top of the box. Esquivel dished off to Wright who cut the LMU lead to 2-1. However, the Railsplitters quickly deflated that rally with Pinto’s two late scores.
The Railsplitters capped the match with 22 shots and 10 shots on frame, while the Trojans were limited to 13 attempts with three landing on target. Pinto and da Silva headlined that effort for LMU with six shots apiece, while George Burne added three shots. Jeremiah Wright paced the Trojans with three shot attempts.
LMU keeper Marcel Barwanietz picked up the win in net, making two stops in 90 minutes of work. His counterpart, Braydon Brown, finished with six saves and four goals allowed over a 90-minute stretch.
Lincoln Memorial visits Anderson (S.C.) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. It’s a rematch of last season’s SAC championship.