VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Looking to bounce back from its first home loss of the season, Carson-Newman welcomes Anderson to the friendly confines of McCown Field for a Saturday night South Atlantic Conference battle.
The Eagles (6-2, 2-2 SAC) saw a three-match winning streak come to an end in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Tusculum. It was the first time C-N has been shutout at home since Oct. 6, 2016 when it loss to Lincoln Memorial, 1-0.
"I just think the initial preparation, being ready for a big conference game against a big rival (did not click)," coach Stephen Lyons said. "Mentally, we weren't focused from the off and that kind of just hurt us for the rest of the game, to be honest.
"We've still got to have the confidence in the group and the ability we have but we've got to go out there and earn it. The results aren't just going to come to us."
Despite the loss, Twan Verweij (Utrecht, Netherlands) still leads the conference in save percentage with an .811 clip.
Saturday's matchup brings a defensive dual, most notably between the goalkeepers with Verweij and Anderson's (2-4-1, 1-2-1 SAC) Gal Elyashiv leading the conference in goals allowed this season at seven each.
Elyashiv has started in all seven of his team's matches this season. He has made 29 saves, a clip that lands him in a tie for seventh-most in the SAC, with two shutouts.
Like C-N, Anderson comes into the match looking to get back on track after a 1-0 loss to Queens in double overtime on Wednesday. The team has yet to see a win on the road this season, going 0-3-1 in such games.
The Trojans have matched their opponents in goals this season with 7 but have been outscored by conference opponents 4-3.
AU's seven goals on the year put it at the bottom of the conference but its seven goals against are tied with Carson-Newman as the least allowed. The group leads the SAC with 17.4 shots per game and is tied for the most red cards with four, landing it in a tie for second, nationally. Outside of that, the team is second with 21 points, third with a 0.94 goals allowed average and fourth with 122 shots.
Fifth-year head coach Michael Zion's team currently sits at ninth in the league's standings with four points thanks to a 1-0 win over Mars Hill on Sept. 22 and a 2-2 tie against Lincoln Memorial on Sept. 29.
Senior forward Gabriel Homem leads Anderson with three goals and two assists on the season. He also leads the Black and Gold side with 21 shots. His 13 shots on goal are good enough for a share of fifth-most in the conference.
Returning to the Trojans this season is senior midfielder Cameron Emerson, who was tabbed a preseason All-SAC first team selection this season after making the second team last year. He notched two goals with four assists as a junior. He has yet to record a goal this season with four of his 15 shots landing on goal with one assist.
"Another conference team that is going to be very strong," Lyons said, "and, again, every conference game is going to be tough. The biggest thing for us is to focus on our performance. Making sure that we're taking care of the small things, making sure that we're mentally prepared from the first whistle to the last to go out there and do the job.
"I'm confident that if the group go out there and can do that consistently, we can turn things around quickly."
Through 15 meetings, Carson-Newman leads the series 11-4, holding a perfect 6-0 record at home against the Trojans. The last time Anderson defeated C-N was Oct. 3, 2015 with a 3-2 decision in Spartanburg, S.C. Overall, the Eagles have outscored Anderson by a steep 52-18 margin.
The last time these two sides faced off, the Eagles left Anderson with a 4-0 win, marking their fifth-straight shutout win of the season up to that point. Thibault Mathorez, Ashley Kelynack (High Wycombe, England) and Tom Read all scored in the first half while Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) connected in the 61st minute. AU could only muster five shots with one on frame compared to 21 attempts from C-N with 10 on goal.
Saturday's 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.