VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the first time this season, Carson-Newman gears up to take on a nationally ranked opponent as No. 10 Lander comes to town on Wednesday night for a non-conference match to close out a five-match homestand at McCown Field.
The Eagles (6-2-1) are looking for their first win of October after starting the month with a loss to Tusculum last Wednesday and draw with Anderson on Saturday.
"I thought the guys' effort and attitude, we talked about needing a response, was a lot better (on Saturday)," coach Stephen Lyons said. "Energy levels were higher. We definitely created a number of chances. If we could have taken a couple early on, I think it could have been a different game.
"The biggest thing is getting the right performance. We definitely want to get a win against a nationally ranked opponent. We know Lander are going to be a good team, but I think if we start to put together the quality performances consistently, I think the results will come."
This will be the 35th time Carson-Newman has faced a ranked opponent in the past 16 years, going 15-15-4 against nationally touted sides.
The last ranked team C-N faced was No. 17 Lander on Oct. 21, 2017. The last win over a ranked team was Sept. 20, 2017 with a 1-0 win over No. 5 Lenoir-Rhyne at McCown Field, also the first time the Eagles had ever hosted a top-five team.
For the Eagles and Bearcats (8-1-1), this will be the eighth meeting since the series began in 1996. While Lander leads the series 4-2-2, Carson-Newman has avoided a loss in four of the last five meetings. In matches played on the banks of Mossy Creek, C-N holds a 2-1 advantage.
Lander faced its first loss of the season on Saturday in a 3-0 decision to No. 3 Young Harris. The Bearcats saw their shutout streak end at six games, spanning 606:25. It was 14:44 short of setting the program's longest stretch without allowing a goal set by the 2013 team.
It was the first Peach Belt Conference loss for the Lander side since Oct. 17, 2015 and the third in coach Lee Squires' four-year tenure, pushing the Bearcats into a tie for second place in the league standings.
Lander leads the PBC with a 0.59 goals allowed average, seven shutouts, six being shutout wins, and 30 yellow cards. It has held opponents to just six goals with 28 shots on goal.
Nationally, the Bearcats are tied for third with a shutout percentage of 0.700 and ninth for both team goals against average and yellow cards.
Senior defender Jordan Skelton currently leads the team in goals and game-winners, scoring four and three, respectively. He is tied for seventh in the PBC for goals and second for game-winners. He is one of the key returners for the Bearcats this season after a stellar junior campaign that saw him play in all 20 matches, helping him garner All-PBC and All-Region honors. He netted eight goals and racked up 19 points last year.
Sophomore midfielder Thibault Chretien also returns for Lander this season. The sophomore midfielder was tabbed the 2017 PBC Co-Freshman of the Year, second team All-PBC and a United Soccer Coaches' first-team All-Region selection after scoring three goals with six assists in 17 starts.
Freshmen goalkeepers Jacob Withers and Jose Eduardo Bomfim have split time in front of the net for Lander this season, both allowing three goals each. Withers has made 13 saves with four shutouts, holding a 3-1-1 record. Bomfim has captured nine saves with two shutouts for a perfect 5-0 record.
Withers and Bomfim are No. 1 and No.2, respectively, in the league for goals against average at 0.57 and 0.60 and shutouts per game with 0.80 and 0.60 clips. Withers' goals against average is good enough for ninth in the nation.
"We played them at their place last year and I thought they were one of the better teams we faced all year," Lyons said. "Back to front, just a very strong team, big attacking threat, and it's going to be a good game."
Lander, then-No. 17 in the nation, was victorious over C-N in last season's meeting in Greenwood, S.C., 2-1. George Knight put the Bearcats on the board early in the contest with a goal in the 15th minute. Lander held onto a 1-0 lead for over the next 45 minutes until Tom Read equalized the match in the 58th minute. Minutes later, Chretien netted the game-winner, giving Carson-Newman its third loss in four matches at that point of the season.
Wednesday night's game is slated to kick off at 5 p.m. Fans who cannot make it to McCown Field can catch a live broadcast of the game at cneagles.com/live.