VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn - For the second in a three part preview of the 2017 Carson-Newman men's soccer team, the focus shifts to the midfielders. Five players return from last year's squad for this 11-man section.
With the position being rather heavy with new faces to the roster, first-year head coach Stephen Lyons expects there to be stiff competition for playing time.
"I guess it's a good headache for me to have in selecting who's going to be starting each game," Lyons said. "There are so many competing for one spot, one position, but you need that depth throughout the season."
Leading the midfielders this season is Tom Read, returning for his senior year. At the end of his junior campaign, he was named to the All-South Atlantic Conference first-team for the second straight season after leading the SAC and tying for fifth in Division II with 12 assists. Read accounted for five goals and 22 points on the year, also a tie for fifth in the league.
"Tom Read, the last couple of seasons, has been the stat leader on the team," Lyons said of the senior. "Having the opportunity to work with him in the preseason, he's really been phenomenal to work with – great attitude, obviously a great player. The guys around him are going to be pushing him."
Junior Thibault Mathorez will be looking to make an impact in the midfield, moving to the position from being a defender last season. His three goals on the season in 2016 tied him for third-most on the team, including a game-winner in overtime against then No.7 Tusculum. He finished the season tallying 10 shots with five on goal.
Other returners battling for playing time include senior Johann Pereira and sophomores Gregg Evans and Evan Harr. Harr accounted for a pair of goals last season with 15 shots and four on goal in the 16 games he appeared in. Pereira is seeking substantial play on the field for the first time since sustaining a season-ending injury just five minutes into the 2015 season, coming after an impressive freshman campaign that saw him starting three of the 14 games he competed in.
"We've got a combination of freshman all the way through grad players, so some of them have a little bit more maturity and experience, but every single one of them has been training hard, working hard and really already starting to impress the coaches at every level," Lyons said.
The Eagles add six newcomeres to the position in freshmen Will Sainsbury-Logan and Josh James, junior transfers Joe Taylor and Jonny LeQuesne alongside graduate transfers Tom Rankin and Zach McCown. McCown, the Marietta, G.A. native, comes to C-N by way of Bryan College and Reinhardt University. While at Bryan, he was named to the All-AAC second-team in 2013 after leading the team and conference with 10 assists.
This week's three-part preview will conclude with a look at the Eagles goalkeepers and defenders.