VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – A pair of goals in the early parts of the second half from Drew Bridge and Tobias Solem Karlsen lifted Carson-Newman to its first win at home in nearly a month as it defeated Catawba, 2-1, on Saturday's Senior Night at McCown Field.
"It was fantastic, obviously senior night, I think we needed it going into the tournament," coach Stephen Lyons said. "The boys have been actually playing really well in a lot of games, just been a little unfortunate at times, so definitely thoroughly deserved and great for the guys to get that bit of confidence under their belt."
The win marks the first for Carson-Newman (8-4-3, 4-3-3 South Atlantic Conference) at home since Sept. 29, snapping a four-match winless skid. This is the first time since 2014 that the Eagles have defeated Catawba (3-12, 0-10 SAC) at McCown Field.
With the C-N victory, the Indians finish the season as the only team in the conference without a win, now holding a 12-match losing streak against league opponents. They are the first team since Newberry in 2015 to go winless in the conference. It is the 14th time since 1989 that a team has not seen a win or draw during the season.
Neither team found a goal in the first half, marking the fourth time this season the Eagles faced a scoreless game at the break. In the opening period, Carson-Newman held Catawba to just one shot in the period
Drew Bridge (Salisbury, England) made the break in the 49th minute that Carson-Newman needed. A short scoot from Jonny Le Quesne (Jersey, Channel Islands) landed at the feet of a wide open Bridge, giving him a chance to move along a few feet before sending a cross deep into the box that sailed over a leaping Gianluca Tommasi, Catawba's goalkeeper, into the top right shelf.
It was the junior defender's first goal of the season.
"Jonny did really well, played me through," Bridge said. "To be honest, I'm not sure the boys will be happy with me saying I meant to shoot, but I crossed it in, it got into the top corner so you can't really be unhappy with it."
VIDEO: Drew Bridge Interview
Le Quesne's helping hand on the play gives him a team-leading six assists this year. One more will land him in a tie for 10th for the most in a single season in program history.
In the 54th minute, Bridge retrieved a long pass from Kensho Yoshikoshi (Japan) that he sent laterally to Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) just near the top of the 18-yard box. With a Catawba defender following closely, the junior was able to get a shot off that went past a diving Tommasi to put the Eagles up 2-0.
Karlsen has found the back of the net eight times this season, giving him 20 career goals. He needs one more to tie Glenn Bednarcyk at 10th in program history with 21 from 1999 to 2000.
Nearly 20 seconds after Karlsen's goal, a foul in the box on the other end of the pitch gave Catawba a chance to cut its deficit on a penalty kick. Hunter Faust lined up and successfully got it past C-N's netminder Twan Verweij, lessening C-N's lead to 2-1.
That was the third time a Carson-Newman opponent had gotten a penalty kick past Verweij this season in four attempts. For Faust, it was his first penalty kick of the season.
After Catawba's goal, the Eagles remained steadfast on defense to see out the win to close out the regular season on a high note with the Indians only notching four shots after their successful penalty kick.
Carson-Newman outshot Catawba by a steep 22-6 margin. Those six shots for the Indians were the fewest a C-N opponent has been allowed this year.
Joe Taylor (Stockton-On-Tees, England) had a second-straight career night in terms of shooting, sending out a career-high six attempts. The senior was the leading shot taker of all players on the pitch.
Karlsen's game-winner was the fourth of the season, moving him to a tie for third on the program's individual season list and into a tie for third on the career side with nine. One more goal would move him into a tie with himself for second-most in a season and in sole possession of third on the career list.
Bridge led the Eagles in shots on goal in the match with both of his shooting attempts landing on frame.
Faust and Borja Gaspar both recorded two shots and two shots on goal, leading the way for the Indians in those categories.
Verweij brought in three saves on the night in front of the net for the Eagles. At the other end of the pitch, Tommasi needed four saves.
Carson-Newman now heads into the Quarterfinal Round of the SAC Tournament as the No. 7 seed, travelling to Charlotte, N.C. to take on second-seeded Queens for a rematch of last season's conference quarterfinal. That match will take place on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. from Dickson Field.