EVANS, Ga. – Carson-Newman (16-5-1) heads into its final match against No. 2 Southern New Hampshire (21-1-1) tomorrow at 3 p.m. to battle it out for the national title.
The farthest any C-N men's soccer program has made it was to the Elite Eight. The school's last visit was in 2005 when Carson-Newman head soccer coach Richard Moodie was a player himself.
"I've got a lot of players that were on that team with me reaching out asking what it feels like," Moodie said on advancing two steps further as a coach. "It's great just to take such a prestigious program to a new height. We once were a fantastic team in the nation and that was my goal as coach when I took the job to get us back to that."
The Eagles are coming off a last minute 3-2 victory over Simon Fraser, NCAA's lone British Columbian team.
The Clan opened the scoring in the 14th minute, a lead that was held the remainder of the first half.
Within the first fifteen of the second half, the Eagles had a 2-1 lead. Ross Frame (Welshpool, Powys, United Kingdom) tied it up with a well placed shot off a pass from Sindre Welo (Trondheim, Norway) in the 50th minute. Frame now tallies 19 goals, four away from the single season school record.
Ten minutes later, Welo sent in a left-footed strike that five-holed Brandon Watson to take the lead for the Eagles. Frame claimed the assist; he has 11 assists and 49 points for the year. Welo holds seven goals and eight assists giving him a total of 22 points.
With 26 minutes remaining, Simon Fraser tied it up.
With just over a minute left in regular time, Joao Dowsley (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) scored the game winner, his first goal of the season. Dowsley received a pass from Kristian Speake (Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom) and sent a left-footed shot through the legs of both the Clan defender and keeper.
Southern New Hampshire defeated Rockhurst 2-1 in its Final Four match Thursday evening.
"They're a great outfit, well coached, very disciplined," Moodie said. "We don't care. We'll play anywhere, anytime, anybody."
The Clan put up two goals by the 42nd minute. Callum Williams capitalized on a loose ball 15 yards out to take the lead 27 minutes in.
Fifteen minutes later, Jonathan Lupinelli did a give-and-go with Brian Francolini before releasing a left-footer from 12 yards out that found its way to the back of the net.
Rockhurst put in its lone goal 43 seconds later.
The Penmen's lone loss was 1-0 to Post their first match of the season. Since then, SNHU maintained a clean sheet.
The Eagles lost 1-0 in the quarterfinal round of the SAC tournament to Mars Hill after going down a man due to a red card. "The boys have responded well to it," Moodie said. "I think they realize that that could have been their last game. Now we've been given this opportunity and they're making the most of it."
SNHU's tie came in its quarterfinal match against Mercyhurst who the Penmen defeated in a penalty kick shootout to advance.
"We know a lot about them," Moodie said. "We know they've got good players; we know they've got All-Americans. But I don't know if they know too much about us."
Nationally, the Penmen's Pierre Omanga is ranked fourth with 20 goals as of Nov. 24. Lupinelli is tied for 27th in the nation with eight assists.
As a team, SNHU tops the nation with .40 goals against average. The Penmen find themselves in the no. 9 spot nationally with 2.59 goals per game.
Carson-Newman is ranked 26th in the nation with 2.19 goals per game.
"Rumwald arguably is one of the best keepers," Moodie said, "if not the best keeper I've seen in the nation. I've seen the keepers here, and I genuinely think that he is the best keeper in Division II."
The Eagles also have a shootout win under their belt after toppling Lander in the Sweet 16. Rumwald Le Guevel (Vannes, France) made two saves in the shootout to advance his team.
Le Guevel has been the starting keeper for the Eagles both of his seasons at C-N. He has made 93 saves and holds a .795 save percentage on the season.
Le Guevel and Frame both received first team All-Southeast Region honors from the NSCAA. "They have done exactly what we thought they could," Moodie said. "They're two great young men, in the classroom and on the field. But they'll tell you straight in the face that they care more about the team than they do about themselves."
Carson-Newman has made 11 national title game appearances as a school; this will be the school's fourth as a Division II school across all sports. C-N has six national titles as a school, one in baseball and five in football. The last time an Eagle team was in a national title game was 1999 when the football team lost in a four-overtime thriller to Northwest Missouri State.
"I don't think that it will sink in that we're in the national tournament final until it's probably over," Moodie said. "Some of them will probably get their boots on ready to practice Monday. They just want to keep playing."
The South Atlantic Conference has never had an NCAA national champion in any sport. The last team to make it to the final game was the 2007 Lincoln Memorial men's soccer team.
"We're happy to play," Moodie said. "We're just excited to play against good teams. It seems fitting as well that you'd play a team that's top in the nation in the final. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best."
The national championship match will take place in Evans, Ga. Saturday at 3 p.m. and can be followed live at http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2013/12/07.