JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Reeling from a 5-0 shutout victory over Newberry on Saturday to open home conference play, the Eagles prepare to host No. 5 Lenoir-Rhyne on Wednesday night at McCown Field.
Carson-Newman recorded its third clean sheet of the season in the win with four Eagles scoring goals. Tom Read scored two goals early on to build a strong lead that would grow even more in the second half thanks to Ashley Kelynack, Johann Periera and Zimiso Stewart, who scored his first career goal in the 75th minute.
While the team had an impressive scoring parade, it was the defense who had the stellar performance. The Wolves were held to five shots in the game with just one shot on goal, marking the third time this season opponents were held to less than 10 shots in a game.
"I think the defense has worked really well," head coach Stephen Lyons assessed. "We've got good leadership throughout the backline, whichever personnel we've got in there. They've been adjusting to anything we ask of them in training and becoming a more solid force together while getting to know one another better.
"In the long run, those clean sheets are going to be huge so we hope to keep building on them."
The Eagles improved to 3-1-1 (1-0-1 SAC) on the season after the win, marking the 138th shutout victory for the program since 1990.
Lyons and his squad now look to Wednesday's game against Lenoir-Rhyne, ranked at No. 5 this week in the NSCAA National Top-25.
The Bears ended 2016 with a 12-5-3 record, 7-3-1 in South Atlantic Conference play. They finished third in the SAC standings at the end of the season and were slated to finish in that same spot in the conference's preseason poll for 2017.
Head coach Jack Winter is in his second season with L-R after serving as an assistant for the Bears three years prior. His team returns 2016 SAC Player of the Year senior Ismael Noumansana at the forward position, who led the conference with 17 goals scored and 35 total points last season.
Marc Fernandez and Zach King also return this season after strong showings in 2016. Junior forward Fernandez led the team with nine assists while King, the goalkeeper, was second in the league capturing 87 saves and recording 6 shutouts.
The Bears walked away with a 4-2 victory in last season's meeting at Lenoir-Rhyne. Carson-Newman fell to a 3-1 deficit heading into the half and couldn't fulfill the comeback it attempted in second half action.
Despite close outings in the past two games, Lenoir-Rhyne (4-0-0, 1-0-0 SAC) has yet to lose a game this season. The team's last two matches have resulted in one-goal victories, including a double-overtime battle against Limestone on Sept. 9 with the lone goal coming in the 103 minute of play. On Saturday, L-R fought back after Tusculum took a 1-0 lead at the 18:21 mark to get a 2-1 win over the Pioneers. Ignacio de Goya and Victor Cascon found the back of the net in the 31st and 42nd minutes of play, respectively.
"We know that Lenoir-Rhyne are going to come in and are going to be a very good outfit because you don't get ranked that highly for no reason," Lyons said. "We have to expect a tougher test than what we've faced so far and go out, put in a good performance to get the result that we need."
The overall record between the two teams gives Carson-Newman a 19-15-1 advantage since the series began in 1992 and a 10-6-0 edge in games played at McCown Field.