JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the last time in the regular season, Carson-Newman hits the road for a South Atlantic Conference match, this time heading to Newberry to face a Wolves side it has never lost to on Wednesday afternoon at the Smith Road Soccer Complex.
Carson-Newman (7-4-2, 3-3-2 SAC) is looking to get back on track after a 2-0 shutout loss to Wingate on Saturday night. The Eagles have not seen a win since their trip to Queens on Oct. 13.
The Eagles are still in position to head into the SAC Tournament for a second-straight year as they currently sit in seventh in the conference standings. The top-eight teams will make it in.
In terms of region standings, the Eagles were fifth in the Southeast Region rankings that were released by the NCAA last Wednesday. Six teams from the Southeast Region will be chosen to make an appearance in the tournament.
"For the confidence, in general, it would be nice to get a run going," coach Stephen Lyons said. "I fully believe that the guys can do it and if we get Newberry tomorrow, we can build onto that going into the tournament. The guys have still had a good year, the record is good, still sitting OK in the region, so we would like to get a couple more wins to bolster that.
I think we have high expectations from start to finish in the season, so we've just got to be ready to go, put in a good team performance. I'm confident with this group that if we are consistently doing that, we're going to get the results that we want. Tomorrow is a big opportunity to do that."
As for third-year head coach Bryce Cooper's Newberry (3-10-2, 2-5-1 SAC) team, it is currently second-to-last in the SAC standings. The Wolves have only seen two conference wins this season, those coming in a 3-0 blanking of Catawba on Sept. 12 followed by a 1-0 win over Anderson on Sept. 19.
Home matches for Newberry have given it a 2-4 record so far with victories over West Liberty and Anderson. It has been outscored 18-12 in games at the Smith Road Soccer Complex with opponents scoring at least four goals in each of the last three matches.
In the conference, Newberry has the most goal against at 46 and the most saves at 83. Its four red cards on the season are third-most in the SAC and are tied for the seventh-most nationally.
Fabrizio Bucco returns for the Wolves this season as a preseason All-SAC second team selection. The senior midfielder currently leads the team with six goals, two game-winners, 15 points and 38 shots. Last season, he led the group with five assists and was the second-leading goal scorer on the year with four, helping him to land on the All-Conference Honorable Mention list.
Brad Dixon has been the primary goalkeeper for the Wolves this season with 11 starts in as many appearances. The senior has saved 50 of the 186 shots he has faced with 28 goals against for a goals against average of 2.49 and a .641 saving clip. He has one shutout this season with a 2-7-2 record. He has the most goals against in the SAC this season with the second-most saves.
"We've got to be prepared to match the opponent with our intensity, energy and our overall effort," Lyons said. "Newberry has been a little inconsistent but has had good results, so we know that, on the day, they're going to be dangerous. We need to be ready for that. They've got a number of dangerous players we have to be aware of and put that pressure on them defensively to take the opportunities when we get them."
This will be the 26th meeting between the Eagles and Wolves with C-N holding a dominating 24-0-1 record against Newberry. The Eagles have gone 11-0-1 in matches played at Newberry, winning the last eight on the Wolves' home pitch. The lone non-win came in a 2-2 double-overtime tie at Newberry in 2001.
Overall, the Orange and Blue have piled on the goals in the matchup, outscoring Newberry 107-22 in the series that dates back to 1995.
The last time these two teams met was on Sept. 16 of last season at McCown Field with Carson-Newman picking up a 5-0 victory that spurred a seven-match shutout winning streak. Its five goals, four assists and 14 points were all single-game highs for C-N last season. Four different Eagles found the back of the net in the match including Tom Read, scoring twice, Ashley Kelynack (High Wycombe, England), Zimiso Stewart and Johann Pereira. C-N's defense held Newberry to five shots in the contest with one landing on frame.
Wednesday's match is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. from the Smith Road Complex in Newberry, S.C. The staff at Newberry will provide a live broadcast and stats for the match with updates coming on Twitter via @CNathletics.