VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – After opening the season in victorious fashion, the men's soccer team looks to hold on to that momentum as the Crusaders of North Greenville infiltrate Mossy Creek for the Eagles' home opener at McCown Field on Tuesday.
The Eagles were 3-0 victors over Clayton State on Saturday with Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) netting a pair of goals while Mitchell Gutteridge (Reading, England) scored his first career goal.
"We've definitely got some areas to focus and build on," head coach Stephen Lyons reflected on his team's performance," but Toby started right back up where he left off and it was nice to see getting a goal from a set piece that would work quite a bit as well."
Since 1993, Carson-Newman (1-0-0) has enjoyed a 15-9-1 record in games that opened the home portion of the schedule. The last three such games have resulted in wins for the Orange and Blue.
The Eagles picked up their first clean sheet of the 2018 campaign on Saturday, so the motivation to do the same on Tuesday is high; especially against an NGU side that has not defeated C-N in the five matches that have been played in the series dating back to 2003.
In that span, Carson-Newman has never conceded a goal to the Crusaders, outscoring them 19-0.
"I think the team should be happy it did keep a clean sheet because Clayton State were pretty dangerous on the counter," Lyons said. "Going into any game, doesn't matter what the previous scores have been, we've got to take care of business, so don't look into that too much.
"Hopefully we will keep another clean sheet, but we've got to earn it."
North Greenville (1-0-0), led by third-year head coach Bill Martin, also comes into the game with a chip on its shoulder following a 3-2 win over Shorter on Saturday, the team's first season-opening win since 2015. NGU jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead before the half thanks to Marlon Evans and Will Moy. Jake Quinn kept the wheels turning with a goal just over four minutes into the second half to extend the lead. The Crusaders were able to stave off a late comeback by the Hawks to secure the win. NGU fired off 11 shots in the win with five landing on target.
In recent history, the Crusaders have been a team that has struggled to find substantial goal scoring. As a unit, the Crusaders scored 19 goals in the 2017 campaign, the most scored by NGU since the 2013 group that netted 30. They were fourth in the conference for saves per game with a 5.38 clip.
North Greenville, hailing from the Conference Carolinas, has also gone some time without a winning season -- since 2009, to be exact.
Sophomore forward Gareth Greene was the only Crusader from last year's team to be named an All-Conference athlete, landing on the second team. Appearing in 14 games with six starts as a freshman, he led NGU with six goals and tied for 10th in the conference for the statistic. He was second in the conference with three game-winners, as well.
Along with the return of Greene, the Crusaders bring back 89.5-percent of their goal scoring from last year, including the second and third-highest leading scorers of the group in Ope Olaloko (4) and Dillon Erkens (2).
The last meeting between the two came in last year's season opener with the Eagles leaving Tigerville with a 3-0 victory. C-N held the Crusaders to just two shots in the game while taking 15 shots of its own. The Eagles got on the board early in the match thanks to a goal from Tom Read at the 3:58 mark. Johann Pereira extended the lead in the second half before Read struck again to seal the deal in the 77th minute.
"Honestly, we've just got to start off on the right foot and keep the energy levels high," Lyons mentioned. "We like to play a kind of high-tempo game. Didn't feel like we consistently did that on Saturday so, hopefully, we get a good training session today and, like I said, just keep working hard to put in solid performances throughout the season."
Tuesday's battle with the Crusaders will begin at 6:30 p.m. at McCown Field. For those who are unable to make it to Mossy Creek, a live broadcast will be available at cneagles.com/live.