JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For just the seventh time in program history, Carson-Newman heads into South Atlantic Conference play undefeated as the men's soccer team gears up for a trip to Hickory, N.C. on Wednesday to take on Lenoir-Rhyne at Bears Field.
The Eagles (3-0, 0-0 SAC) are coming off of a 2-1 win over Barry, marking the first non-shutout win of the season. The back-to-back clean sheet victories to open the season were the most by an Eagles team since the 2005 squad strung together three-straight shutout wins. They are also the only team left in the conference without a loss.
"It was a good Barry team and we held our own against them," head coach Stephen Lyons said of the win. "We excelled in some areas to get the chances that we created to put them away."
Carson-Newman has outscored its opponents 8-1 so far this season with three of those coming from this week's SAC AstroTurf Player of the Week Ashley Kelynack (High Wycombe, England). His first weekly plaudit from the league came after a huge week that saw him score three goals in two games, one being the game-winner over Barry on Saturday.
3️⃣ goals— C-N Athletics (@CNathletics) September 11, 2018
Quite the week for @CNmenssoccer's Ashley Kelynack, this week's @SAC_Athletics AstroTurf Offensive Player of the Week.
��: https://t.co/0p6v5ZX1ao pic.twitter.com/nuvYFBEcfq
The redshirt-junior leads the team in shots with 18 on the season thus far. Of those shots, 14 came against North Greenville, giving him the top spot on the individual game record list in program history for most shots in a game.
He was also named the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Men's Soccer Player of the Week on Monday.
"We've never doubted his ability, but it's nice to see him getting the rewards as well," Lyons said of the junior. "I think our whole attacking group can be a massive threat, but he's coming out and doing the extra work and getting the rewards for it."
The first conference contest of the season comes against a highly familiar league foe in Lenoir-Rhyne (1-1, 0-0 SAC) as this is the 38th meeting between the two schools. Carson-Newman leads the all-time record at 20-15-2. In games played at Lenoir-Rhyne, the Eagles are 6-4-2.
The most recent contest between the Bears and Eagles could arguably be the biggest game of the year for C-N in last season's campaign as the Bears came to town on Sept. 20, 2017 ranked fifth in the nation with a perfect 4-0 record. By the end of the night, that record was tarnished as the Eagles took down L-R 1-0.
Tobias Solem Karlsen netted the lone goal of the evening in the 32nd minute, splitting through two defenders with a header to obtain control of a pass from Sam Jenkins to place a shot up near the post. The C-N defense held the Bears to just two shots on goal.
It was the first win over a top-5 opponent since 2011 when C-N defeated No. 4 Rollins in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight 2-1.
"It was a big game for us last year and we've just got to be up for the challenge again," Lyons mentioned. "We've got to know that it's going to be an intimidating environment and very high-quality team that's well coached. We've got to make sure that we stick to our game plan and, again, work hard for each other.
"I think our group is one that if we work hard and stay positive, good things will happen."
The Bears under third-year head coach Jack Winter come into the game following their first win of the season on Saturday over Lees-McRae 2-1.
L-R was picked to finish second on the SAC preseason coaches poll after going 6-2-2 in league play last year, 10-4-3 overall.
The 2017 SAC Player of the Year Ignacio de Goya makes his return for the Bears this season. He was the second-straight Bear to receive the accolade from the Conference after second for goals (12) and third in total points (27) for the league. He also brought in a pair of AstroTurf SAC Player of the Week laurels last season. He received a red card in the season-opening loss to Limestone this year, causing him to miss time in the win over Lees-McRae.
Also returning to the team this season are fellow first-team selections Florian Simon and Victor Cascon and second team pick Emil Tansinda. Prior to this season, they all landed on the first team Preseason All-SAC list.
Cameron Saul leads the Bears in goal scoring with both of his shots on frame being tallied as goals this season. Victor Cascon is the leader in assists with one.
"I think they know that, as the expectations are, L-R are a good team," Lyons mentioned. "You want to be getting results against top teams if you want to be considered the best yourself so there should be that bit of motivation for the boys."
Wednesday's match is set to begin at 5 p.m. from Bears Field in Hickory, N.C. Fans who cannot make the trip will be able to tune into the live broadcast or the live stats available throughout the contest courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne.