VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – For the second-straight season, the Carson-Newman men's soccer team heads to the South Atlantic Conference Championship Tournament, this time as the seventh-seed with a trip to second-seeded Queens for a rematch of the 2017 SAC Quarterfinal on Tuesday evening in Charlotte, N.C.
"Like to go further than we did last year, for sure," coach Stephen Lyons said. "Pleased for the guys and they've got a chance now to go on the road and get a big result to potentially get a semifinal spot on Friday."
This is the 27th appearance Carson-Newman (8-4-3, 4-3-3 SAC) is making in the SAC Tournament since 1990, going 16-24-2 in that time. Since 1990, the Eagles have gone 11-14 in the quarterfinal round, 2-5 in matches played away from its home pitch since 1993. Their last road qualifying match ended in a 4-1 loss at Lincoln Memorial. As for a road win in the opening round, that last came at Mars Hill in a 2-1 decision in 2001.
The Eagles have not seen a seed lower than fifth when making the tournament in over a decade. This is their lowest placement since playing as the No. 7 seed in 2002.
Tuesday will be the seventh road match for Lyons' group this season. In matches away from McCown Field, the Eagles have gone 3-2-1 this year. Their last road win came at Dickson Field when they defeated Queens (10-4-1, 7-3 SAC), 3-1, on Oct. 13. That match ended a three-match winless skid for C-N.
Bill Hadam (Knoxville, Tenn.) put the Eagles on the board in the 13th minute, but a red card on Queens' Oemer Okyar in the 43rd minute forced the Royals to play with just 10 men for the rest of the evening. Quinton Carey (Edmond, Okla.) extended the Eagles' lead in the 70th minute with an unassisted launch before Kieran Gore cut the C-N lead in half with an assist from Edmundo Robinson in the 73rd minute. Queens' comeback bid was stopped by a Kensho Yoshikoshi (Japan) header in the 81st minute off of a set piece from Jonny Le Quesne (Jersey, Channel Islands).
"It was a good game," Lyons said. "(Queens) actually played 45 minutes a man down so we can't overlook the result and think it's going to be easy. We're going to have to go out there, we know Queens are a good team. They tied the conference, they've got two of the top-five point leaders on they're team, so we need to be switched on like I say back to front.
"As a group, we're confident that we can compete with anybody on our day and feel like if we put in a good performance, we'll get a good result."
After that loss, Queens closed the year going 3-1 in its final four matches, outscoring opponents 13-4 in that time.
The Royals landed the No. 2 seed in the South Atlantic Conference Championship despite garnering an identical 7-3 conference record with Lenoir-Rhyne. Queens lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with a 3-2 loss to the Bears on Oct. 6.
Eighth-year coach Oliver Carias' group went 5-2-1 at home through the regular season. Its two home losses were against Carson-Newman and Lincoln Memorial on Oct. 24.
The Royals are in the top-five of eight statistical categories in the league. In that, they are first in four categories with 40 goals, 2.67 goals for average, .207 shooting percentage and are tied for first with 25 assists.
Senior forward Edmundo Robinson leads the Royals with eight goals and five assists for 21 points while co-leading in game-winners with Alberto Morales at three on the year. He also leads in shooting with 49 attempts and 24 shots on goal. He is third in the SAC for assists, points and shots, tied for third in goals and game-winners while sitting at fourth for shots on goal. He was tabbed the SAC AstroTurf Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 23.
Sebastian Kalk started in all 14 of his appearances in front of the net for the Royals in the regular season. Teams have gotten 16 goals past him, the fourth-fewest in the league, while saving 51 of the 123 shots he has faced for a .761 save percentage, a clip that is second in the SAC. He has collected a 9-4-1 record with six shutouts, the second-most in the SAC this season and tied for 23rd in the nation.
This is the second-straight year the Royals and Eagles are meeting in the SAC Quarterfinal. Seventh-seeded Queens won last year's Halloween Night battle at McCown Field over No. 2 seeded C-N.
The Eagles struck first with a goal from Collin Hensel in the 27th minute to hold a 1-0 lead heading into the break. Queens answered early in the second half with goals in the 58th and 69th minutes to jump out to a 2-1 lead. With less than seven minutes left in regulation, Tom Read gathered a rebound off of a blocked shot to tie the game at deuces, sending it into overtime. A mere 49 seconds the extra period, a foul in the 18-yeard box set up a Queens' penalty kick. Omer Okyar sent a shot past Twan Verweij, diving in the opposite direction, to end the game and the Eagles season. Queens run in the SAC Tournament ended with a 2-1 double-overtime loss to Wingate in the championship match.
Saturday's match will take place on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. from Dickson Field. Queens will provide a live broadcast of the match along with live stats. Real-time tweets can also be found from @CNatheltics.