VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. -- This is the second part in a three-part series highlighting each of the Carson-Newman men's soccer positions for the 2018 season. Head coach Stephen Lyons moves toward the front of the pitch to discuss the forwards.
Much like last year, the assembly of forwards is smaller in number but still packs a punch with nine players accounted for in the position that will be expected to be just as versatile as the midfielders.
"I think we've got a good group that will be tough to break into, whether we're playing with one up there or two up there or whatever it may be," Lyons said. "It's on the boys to earn their spot and push those around them to be better as well.
"We're obviously looking to get off to a good start, but, again, it's also just the competition within the group to push each other," Lyons said. "We've got to constantly be looking to get better individually and as a group and constantly push each other and challenge each other for goals in practice and time on the field.
Lyons will have a trio of junior veterans to rely upon in the group, led by junior Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) who was one of the most decorated players on the team during the 2017 season. Of his 12 career goals, 11 came in his sophomore campaign, giving him roughly 30-percent of the team's entire goals scored. Five of his goals were game-winners, a team-high amount, second-most in the South Atlantic Conference, 16th-most in the NCAA and the second-most in an individual season in program history.
Karlsen recorded a pair of hat tricks in wins over Clayton State and Lincoln Memorial making him the first Eagle to score multiple hat tricks in one season. He brought in All-SAC First Team accolades at the end of 2017 along with two Conference Player of the Week awards during the season.
Karlsen started in 13 of his 14 appearances in 2017 before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. Coming back from that injury will direct all eyes to his return to the pitch.
"He wants to win, he wants to score goals, he wants to win soccer matches," Lyons assessed. "From the team standpoint, I don't think there will be any pressure on him. I think if anything, the boys around him need to step up a little bit.
"Probably expect that Toby will be on most of the scouting reports and might be marked a little tighter but that is going to free other guys around him up to showcase themselves and their ability as well."
Ashley Kelynack (High Wycombe, England) is another returning force for the group. He comes into his junior season after netting a trio of goals in 2017 with a team-high five assists all helping him to land on the All-SAC Honorable Mention list.
Also returning to the pitch is junior Collin Hensel (Spring Hill, Tenn.) who saw a pair of starts in his nine appearances last season. He scored a pair of goals in his sophomore season, bringing his career total to three.
"I thought they did a good job last year," Lyons said," but I do think there are improvements in product and how we can combine in the final third to create more opportunities.
"The returners, I expect to lead. They know how we want to play, they know what we want to do and pull that new group up with them."
The remaining two-thirds of the unit will be comprised of newcomers. Of the six newcomers, Nencho Margaritha (Holland), Philipp Diringer (Karlsruhe, Germany) and Quinton Carey (Edmond, Okla.) could provide some extra help up top as a blend of forward and midfielder to play in multiple formations.
The men's soccer position previews wrap-up on Monday as assistant coach Matt Carr takes a look at the defenders and goalkeepers.