ROCK HILL, S.C. – A bevy of shots from third-seeded Tusculum was too much for seventh-seeded Carson-Newman to handle, suffering a 2-0 shutout in Friday night's South Atlantic Conference semifinal at Manchester Meadows.
"Not the way anyone wants to end the season," coach Stephen Lyons said. "We didn't start as well as we should have and Tusculum deserved to take the lead. However, I felt after we made some adjustments, we started to create more opportunities and worked our way back into the game. Tusculum countered and took their opportunity very well whilst we were chasing the game and we didn't manage to respond."
Carson-Newman (9-5-3) was held to just 10 shots on the night while Tusculum (11-6-1) fired off 23, the most of any Carson-Newman opponent this season. That shot total marked the most of an Eagles' opposition since a No. 7 Young Harris side fired off 25 on Oct. 11, 2017.
The loss moves Carson-Newman's SAC semifinal winless skid to six-straight since 2007, pushing its second round record to 4-7-2 and 17-25-2 overall in the tournament.
Against Tusculum, the Eagles have now gone three-straight matches without a win, dating back to 2016. The Pioneers extend their series lead in SAC Tournament matches with the Eagles to 4-2.
This was the fourth shutout loss for the Eagles this season and the seventh in the SAC Tournament in program history. As for Tusculum, this was its ninth clean sheet victory of the season.
"It's another game where you look to take positives even though it is raw right now," Lyons said. "In the last few seasons, the team has gone from not making the tournament to a quarterfinal and now a semifinal appearance. Hopefully next year, we can continue this progress. I would like to mention the entire senior group who have been a pleasure to work with and who have represented the program brilliantly on and off the field."
The Pioneers came out with a heavy offensive presence, firing seven shots by the 12th minute of the match. Their first three shots on goal came within a matter of a minute and a half in the early part of the first half.
Georgios Charkoutsakis put Tusculum on the board first with a header off of a corner from Fabian Proesch. The midfielder sent the set piece deep into the six-yard box where it found the head of Charkoutsakis just near the left post to give Tusculum a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.
Carson-Newman did not record a shot until the 25th minute when Jonny Le Quesne (Jersey, Channel Islands) sent forth an attempt that was saved by Tusculum's netminder Alejandro Quiriti.
Drew Bridge (Salisbury, England) sent a shot that went through the hands of Quiriti but the keeper was able to backtrack and save the ball just before it crossed the goal line.
That was Bridge's lone shot on the night.
By the break, the Pioneers were outshooting the Eagles 12-4, 5-4 for shots on goal. Those 12 attempts from Tusculum marked the most of any C-N opponent in the first 45 minutes all season.
This was also the third match this season where Carson-Newman faced a deficit at the break, losing in all three of those occurrences.
In the 56th minute, Jonny Winter extended the Tusculum lead with a curving launch from 30 yards out that hit on the inside portion of the right post to land top shelf, putting Tusculum up 2-0.
Le Quesne tried to cut the deficit moments later with a wonder shot from nearly 25 yards out but his attempt soared just above the crossbar. His opportunity spurred a small momentum shift in favor of the Eagles that produced multiple looks but none of C-N's chances could find the back of net.
The senior midfielder was the leading shot-taker on the night for Carson-Newman, blasting out three attempts with two falling on goal. Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) also recorded a trio of shots but none of his landed on frame. This was just the fourth time this season that the junior did not reccord a shot on goal.
Aside from Le Quesne, Bridge and Greg Evans (Wrexham, Wales) were the only Eagles to land shots on goal.
Ayuk Tambe led the Pioneers with five shots, one of those landing on goal in the 54th minute before being saved by C-N's diving goalkeeper Twan Verweij (Utrecht, Netherlands). He ended the night with two shots on goal. He was one of six Pioneers to land shots on goal.
Verweij needed five saves on the night, a total he has had to make five times this season. The 23 shots that Tusculum sent his way marked the second-most he has faced in his career.
On the opposite side of the pitch, Tusculum's Quiriti made four saves.
While the loss has most likely brought the season to an end, Carson-Newman still awaits its NCAA Tournament fate after falling out of the Southeast Region rankings that were released earlier this week. The national selection show will take place Monday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. on NCAA.com.
For all of the latest news and updates on the men's soccer team and all of Carson-Newman athletics, stay tuned to cneagles.com and @CNathletics.