JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Coming off of their second loss of the season on Wednesday night, the No. 21 Eagles look to regain momentum as they host South Atlantic Conference rival Wingate.
The 3-1 loss shattered a nine-game unbeaten streak while halting the Eagles (9-2-1, 6-0-1) at seven-straight shutout wins.
The Eagles went into the closing moments of the game down 3-0 before Tobias Solem Karlsen connected with Tom Read to score from the far post with one second remaining in regulation. His goal was the first goal in the last minute of regulation since Lukas Jokich scored in the 90th against Anderson (S.C.) on Nov. 1, 2014.
C-N allowed three goals for the first time since a 3-2 loss to Mars Hill on Sept. 21, 2016.
"It took us a little while to get settled," head coach Stephen Lyons said. "Against good opposition, we have to start from the first whistle because good teams, like Young Harris were, if you give them opportunities, they're going to take them."
Read led the Orange and Blue with three shots, two on goal.
Goalkeeper Twan Verweij was swamped by a pressing Mountain Lion offense all night, working for a season and career-high 12 saves on the 15 shots on goal he faced. The last Young Harris goal came off a penalty kick from Marco Micaletto that sent Verweij going the opposite way of the ball.
Carson-Newman was outshot for just the second time this season in the loss. The Mountain Lions' Val Feeney scored in the 18th minute of play, breaking a scoreless streak held by C-N opponents that spanned over 763:42 minutes of play dating back to Sept. 9. That opposition scoreless streak is the longest in program history, surpassing the previous record of five games which the team most recently achieved in 2006.
"Second half, we were still creating opportunities," Lyons mentioned. "The guys' attitude was to never give up and that's something they've talked about as a group with how they want to be known. They showed that with the intensity they had for wanting to score."
Lyons' squad now looks ahead to a major conference matchup on Saturday, hosting Wingate.
The Eagles had been following closely behind the Bulldogs in the SAC standings before taking over the top spot with a win over Catawba last Saturday. That night, the Bulldogs won a nonconference game against Clayton State, allowing the Eagles to move ahead. They are still just one point ahead of Wingate in the standings.
The reigning NCAA National Champions enter the game at 9-3 with a three-game winning streak against Clayton State, Coker and LMU. They are currently 3-2 in road games.
The team is led by head coach Gary Hamill, who is in his 26th season at the helm of the men's soccer program. The reigning SAC Coach of the Year has garnered a 315-154-25 record with the Bulldogs. Coming into this season, he was the 24th all-time winningest coach in NCAA Division II and 13th in the ranks of active D-II coaches.
"We know that any conference game is going to be tough and, certainly, when you're playing the National Champions who are unbeaten in the conference, it's going to be a very difficult game that we need to be ready for," Lyons assessed. "At home, the boys have put in some excellent performances. To get that home crowd and be in a familiar environment should help us, but, no matter what, we have to be ready from that first whistle.
"I'm confident the guys are ready to bounce back from Wednesday and earn a good result on Saturday."
Wingate returns 21 players this season including Jon Ander, Christian Szalay, Damian Gaona and Pablo Jara who were named to the NCAA All-Tournament team.
The Bulldogs were voted to win the conference this season, receiving 10 first place votes in the preseason poll. Seven players were named preseason All-Conference players. Elma N'For, Ander, Vincente Munoz, Goana and Jara were all named to the First Team while David Fairgrieve and Mateo Correa made the Second Team roster.
Jara has started in all 12 games in front of the net, recording three shutouts with 27 saves and just 12 goals allowed. He has appeared in a conference high 1082:52 minutes of play.
Elliot Cutts leads the team with eight goals on the season. Ander is the top shooter for the Bulldogs with 42, Cutts is the next closest with 25.
Hamill's squad leads the SAC in shots per game with 15.42. The Bulldogs are second in the conference for points per game (6.33), scoring offense (2.33), total assists (20), total goals (28), total points (76) and won-lost-tied percentage (0.750). They are ranked behind Carson-Newman in each of those categories.
This is the 33rd meeting between the SAC rivals. C-N trails in the series 12-15-5 but holds an 8-7-1 advantage at home.
Last year's matchup was a 2-1 victory for Wingate, the team's 11th straight win of the season. Alex Nelson put the Bulldogs on the board in the third minute of play. Wingate held a 1-0 lead for the next 61 minutes before Dionysis Stergiotis equalized the game at the 64:00 mark to send it to overtime. In the 97th minute, Callum Ross set up Nate Evans to score the game-winner.
Saturday night's final regular season home game will include Senior Night festivities at McCown Field. Five Eagles, Samuel Jenkins, Leon Mattig, Thibault Mathorez, Tom Read and Zimiso Stewart, will be honored at halftime of the women's game, starting at 5 p.m. Since 2009, the Eagles have gone 5-2-1 in games when C-N senior day games.
"Each of the seniors have had a huge impact this season and brought different attributes to the team," Lyons said. "Whether they've been fully involved in the 90 minutes of play, pushing players in training or being a mentor off the field, I couldn't have asked for more form them because they have been a phenomenal group to work with."