VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. -- The 2018 campaign will begin for Carson-Newman in 17 days with a trip to Clayton State on Sept. 1 for a 7 p.m. first kick. This is the first entry in a three-part series highlighting each of the Carson-Newman men's soccer positions for the 2018 season. Head coach Stephen Lyons starts off the sequence with the midfielders.
The vast majority of this year's group will be suiting up as midfielders for Carson-Newman with an astounding 17 Eagles making up the position.
"What we're looking for out of each position, each individual role, last season a couple of the boys were pretty versatile and played a little bit out of position and stepped up," Lyons said. "I think as a midfielder, you've got to be a little more versatile in your role and adapt to what's best for the team."
Of those 17, nearly half of the unit make their returns to the Orange and Blue after a 2017 season that saw the midfielders score 19 of the team's 37 goals. With 11 of those goals being scored by the newly graduated Tom Read, Lyons will be looking for someone to step up to fill the big shoes left by Read.
"That's going to be a challenge for the returning guys," Lyons mentioned. "They know how good of a player Tom was and what he was for the team.
"Having seen it firsthand the past year, I definitely expect a number of the players that are returning to develop their role within the group and become the player that we expect them to be."
Junior Ashley Kelynack (High Wycombe, England) will be splitting time at the midfielder and forward position. He was the third-highest scoring Eagle last year with three goals while bringing in a team-high five assists. He started in all 14 of his appearances for the team a year ago.
Kelynack is a season removed from being named an All-South Atlantic Conference Honorable Mention at the end of the 2017 campaign. He currently sits at 10th in the program's individual season records list for assists per game at 0.36 last year.
Also landing on last season's Honorable Mention list was Jonny Le Quesne (Jersey, Channel Islands), who will be making the move to the midfield after starting his career with C-N last year as a defender. He tied Kelynack for assists with five while also notching the game-winner against Queens on Sept. 23.
Tom Rankin (Birmingham, England) will be returning for the Eagles this year after picking up 13 starts in 18 games played last year. Five of his 14 goals landed on target with one goal.
The other returners to the team who have had substantial starting experience include Joe Taylor (Stockton-On-Tees, England), Tom Rankin (Birmingham, England), Greg Evans (Wrexham, Wales), Will Sainsbury-Logan (Norwich, England) and Evan Harr (Bristol, Tenn.).
"I think it's important that everybody steps up and pushes one another to be the best player they can be whether it's in training or in games, pushing for positions," Lyons said. "We've added some more speed through the midfield and in the attack, which we lacked last year.
"We've added, I feel, good depth in areas that we needed them this year."
Other new midfielders splitting time with other spots to build the depth of the squad will include transfer Nencho Margaritha (Holland), Philipp Diringer (Karlsruhe, Germany), Drew Bridge (England), Kensho Yoshikoshi (Japan), Matheus Maia (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Quinton Carey (Edmond, Okla.) and Bill Hadam (Knoxville, Tenn.), a local player Lyons expects to provide a big contribution to the group of newcomers.
The men's soccer position previews continue on Saturday as Lyons breaks down the forward position.