JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the first time since the 2016 season, the Carson-Newman men's soccer team is gearing up for a neutral site event as the Eagles head down I-75 to take on Barry at Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Saturday.
Head Coach Stephen Lyons' group has already picked up back-to-back wins to start the season heading into this showdown including a win in Tuesday's home opener against North Greenville when the Eagles (2-0) fired off 36 shots, the first time a C-N group has attempted 30 or more shots since Oct. 24, 2012 when the group sent 30 against Brevard.
"It's always good to get the home advantage and get off to a good results because you kind of want to make your home a bit of a fortress where teams know they're going to get a challenging game and find it hard to win," Lyons said. "I thought the guys did that with the play and energy levels and, obviously, getting the (three) goals and keeping a clean sheet. It was a big performance."
It has been nearly six years since @CNmenssoccer attempted 30 shots in a game. With 36 shots and 16 corners, the Eagles were a strong unit in the home opener. ��— C-N Athletics (@CNathletics) September 5, 2018
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Saturday's game is the first neutral site game Carson-Newman has seen since 2016 when it defeated Flagler in a steep 7-0 win. Since 2009, C-N has gone 6-10-2 in neutral site games, narrowly outscoring opponents 33-30 in those affairs.
This will be just the third meeting between the Eagles and the Buccaneers (3-0), the first two meetings coming earlier in the decade.
It has been seven years since the Eagles and Bucs last battled one another, also at a neutral site, with the Bucs taking a 2-1 victory over the Eagles in Greenville, Tenn. Barry took control of the scoreboard just under the 17-minute mark on a Guilherme Oliveira pass to Kendall Sealy. The ball became loose before Seasly's shot toward the net was deflected off the keeper from 15 yards out. The Eagles equalized the game in the 34th minute with Taylor Jolley making a shot mid-air in the box from 13 yards out that sailed to the far post. Mark Anderson netted Barry's dagger in the 84th minute for the 2-1 victory over C-N.
Barry is looking to improve from its 5-6-2 record from a year ago, 4-5-1 in Sunshine State Conference matchups. It was the third time since 1998 that the team had only won five games.
So far, the Bucs have outscored opponents 7-1 through three games, leading the shot total 49-24.
"I think Barry is going to be probably the best opposition we have faced this season so far," Lyons mentioned, "so it's important that we've got the right mindset, the right energy levels and attitudes, making sure that we are organized when we do press together."
Head coach Steve McCrath is in his 21st season at the helm of the program. He is the winningest head coach in the team's history at 215-110-35, making him the third-winningest active coach in the SSC.
Forward Ander Urkidi and midfielder Francisco Greco lead the team in goals with two, placing them at sixth and seventh, respectively, in the SSC while freshman midfielder Amponsah Asamoah is fifth in the conference for assists with two.
Senior netminder Marco Sordi makes his return to the group this season, already having two shutouts to his name in 2018. Last year, he was ranked third in a pair of categories including save percentage at 0.800 and saves per game at 4.44. His 40 saves on the season were good enough for sixth in the SSC.
"I think with the players we've got, both speed and the attitude, I think we can cause problems for a lot of teams," Lyons assessed. "As long as we keep it consistent and we do it together and organized, I think we'll get some success and we've got to take the chances."
The SSC is a group that the Eagles do not face all that often, just 23 times in program history, to be exact, with the last meeting being in 2014. Against current SSC sides, the Eagles are 4-17-2. Four of those meetings have been at neutral sites, all resulting in losses.
This will be the first time the Bucs have competed against a team from the South Atlantic Conference since 2012 when they lost to Mars Hill. Since 2007, Barry has gone 4-1-1 against teams from the SAC.
Not only is this match pitting two non-conference teams against one another, but it also serves as a non-region match-up. The Eagles have competed against teams currently from the South Region 41 times prior to Saturday with a 12-26-3 record. As for the Bucs, they have fared well against present Southeast Region teams at 16-7-3 since 2007.
Saturday's contest in Chattanooga is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Live stats will be available for the match at cneagles.com/livestats.