VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – An 87-minute scoreless affair turned into Carson-Newman's first home loss of the season, falling to South Atlantic Conference rival Tusculum 1-0 on Wednesday evening at McCown Field.
The loss brings Carson-Newman's (6-2, 2-2 SAC) winning streak to a halt at three. This marks the first time Tusculum (4-5, 2-2 SAC) has defeated C-N since 2015, also on the banks of Mossy Creek.
The last time Carson-Newman had been shutout by the Pioneers before Wednesday was Oct. 12, 2011 in a 4-0 decision at Pioneer Field.
The Eagles had not been shutout at home since Oct. 26, 2016 when they fell to Lincoln Memorial, 1-0.
"Not good enough," coach Stephen Lyons said of his team's performance. "Top to bottom, there were players out there that didn't perform. Maybe we, the coaching staff, have to look a little at how we discuss the gameplan and our expectations because, from the off, the energy level, the intent, the mindset for a massive conference game, it wasn't there."
C-N fired off six shots in the opening 45 minutes with a pair of those shots falling on goal. Tusculum, on the other end, took four opportunities but could not land any on frame.
Jonny Le Quesne (Jersey, Channel Islands) had the strongest chance of getting the Eagles on the board in the first half. The ball escaped a Tusculum defender, allowing Le Quesne to gain possession and drive toward the goal a few yards before sending a shot that landed right in the hands of an awaiting Alejandro Quiriti in the 29th minute.
The turning point of the game came in the 72nd minute as a foul on Carson-Newman set the Pioneers' Oscar Rubio Jimenez up with a free kick nearly 25-yards away from the goal. His shot was saved by Twan Verweij before being sent out of bounds by Jonny Winter. Upon being kicked out of play, the whistle blew as a red card was issued to Ben King (Hertfordshire, England), forcing the Eagles to play a man down with a penalty kick ensuing.
Jimenez lined up for the kick that was saved off the fingers of a sliding Verweij before attempting another shot that was sent flying right of the goal, keeping the game tied at zero.
"Great save. Kind of, for a while, swung the energy levels in our favor," Lyons said, "but, again, we've not been good enough to capitalize on it and let them get the opportunity with numbers up that they put away quite well. Just disappointed."
The saved sequence brought a small momentum swing in C-N's favor with the Eagles making multiple races downfield that ended with the Pioneers dispossessing the Eagles and keeping the ball on their end.
In the 88th minute, that momentum shift fell back in favor of Tusculum as a long pass bounced off the head of Roy Deutekom. Ayuk Tambe made a race to the ball, beating out Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway). From nearly 10-yards out, Tambe sent a shot toward the back left of the net, just getting past a diving Verweij.
The goal marked the latest goal against the Eagles have faced this season.
Verweij needed to make three saves in the contest, all coming in the second half.
Jimenez led all players on the pitch with three shot attempts, two on target. Tambe and Henrique Devens were behind him with two shots apiece.
As for Carson-Newman Le Quesne was the leading shot-taker with two on the evening. He was the only Eagle to account for multiple shots.
Carson-Newman narrowly outshot Tusculum at 11-10. In terms of shots falling on goal, the Pioneers led that category four to three.
The fourth of five-straight home matches brings the Trojans of Anderson to town on Saturday evening. That contest is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. under the lights of McCown Field. The Eagle Sports Network will provide a live broadcast of the South Atlantic Conference matchup at cneagles.com/live.