VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With 300 programs wins under its belt, Carson-Newman looks to stick to its winning ways as Tusculum makes the short trek down I-40 on Wednesday for a South Atlantic Conference showdown at McCown Field.
Both teams come into the match with momentum from important wins. For the Eagles (6-1, 2-1 SAC), they have strung together three consecutive wins, two of those being back-to-back home victories. They are the only team in the SAC to hold a multiple-match winning streak.
C-N has yet to face a loss inside the friendly confines of McCown Field this season, outscoring opponents 9-2 on the home pitch.
"You definitely want to make your home ground a difficult place to come and where you're getting results," coach Stephen Lyons said. "The guys have done that so far. Another big test on Wednesday to continue that."
The most recent win came in comeback fashion as the Eagles bounced back from conceding the first goal for just the second time this season. Their 2-1 win over Alabama Huntsville on Saturday marked the first successful comeback after conceding the opening goal in Lyons' tenure with the squad.
"The mentality, the whole group's kind of desire, to get back into the game on Saturday was massive and we got a big momentum swing with the goal to tie it and up and we kind of rebounded really quick and got the game-winner," Lyons said. "But, again, it was the mentality from the guys that got us that.
"You need that in conference play. Every game is going to be tough and certainly against a kind of rival like Tusculum. You can expect a solid game from them."
Tusculum (3-5, 1-2 SAC) ended a five-game losing skid with a 4-0 home victory over Catawba on Saturday. In that winless streak, the Pioneers lost back-to-back last-second heartbreakers. They were tied 2-2 late in a match with Queens before Alberto Morales netted the game-winner with 17 seconds to spare. A week later, a 3-2 lead over Lees-McRae was tarnished by a pair of late goals from the Bobcats' Pol Vassart that came almost three minutes apart. The dagger connected with the back of the net with four seconds left in the match, handing Tusculum a 4-3 loss.
The Pioneers are currently ninth in the SAC standings and are seeking their first road win. They have lost all three of their chances thus far.
"They're going to come out flying; they're going to be full of confidence," Lyons said. "They've got a number of dangerous players, so we've got to come in well prepared, well organized, expecting a tough game and hopefully take care of business as well on Wednesday."
Henrique Devens and Ayuk Tambe lead the team in goals with three each. Devens is third in the conference for shot attempts at 26.
In terms of scoring, the Pioneers have matched their opponents in goals with 14 through their first eight games. Conference action has seen them outscore the opposition 6-4.
Alejandro Quiriti, this week's SAC AstroTurf Defensive Player of the Week, has seen the most time in front of the net for Tusculum this season with a 3-4 record. In seven starts, he has allowed 10 goals with 19 saves and a trio of shutouts. He is tied for the most shutouts in the league this season with Wingate's Pablo Jara.
So far, the Pioneers are tied for first in the league with three shutouts. Outside of that, they are in the top-five of seven other statistical categories including third for assists with 12, goals allowed at 14 and corners with 45.
The matchup brings along a familiar face for Carson-Newman in Tusculum's eighth-year coach Allen Vital. Before joining the Tusculum staff in December 2010, he was the head man for Carson-Newman for 13 seasons, accumulating a 166-76-19 record. Since joining the Pioneers, he has gone 2-3-3 against his former team.
Wednesday will be the 34th meeting between the Eagles and Pioneers with Tusculum leading the series 16-12-5 dating back to 1990. Since Tusculum joined the SAC in 1999, Carson-Newman has held an 11-9-4 lead in the series.
The last time these two teams met was last season at Pioneer Field with the match ending in a 2-2 stalemate after two overtime periods. Edgar Cervantes and Jonny Winter scored goals in the first 45 to put Tusculum up 2-0 at the break. Thaylan Silva put C-N on the board in the 60th minute off a header from a Tom Read cross to cut the deficit to one before Read tied the game in the 80th minute with a launch from 15 yards out. Neither team could capitalize in either overtime period. It was the 10th time a match between the rivals went into double overtime.
Wednesday's contest is set to kick off at 5 p.m. A live broadcast will be provided at cneagles.com/live with a full rundown of live stats at cneagles.com/livestats.