Eagles projected to finish seventh in SAC Preseason Poll

Eagles projected to finish seventh in SAC Preseason Poll

VIDEO: Stephen Lyons Interview

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Following a run to the South Atlantic Conference semifinals a season ago for the first time since 2015, Carson-Newman was chosen to finish seventh in the SAC preseason poll, released on Tuesday morning.

The Eagles finished the 2018 campaign with a 9-5-3 overall record but their 4-3-3 clip in conference play landed them a seventh-seed in the SAC Tournament. After taking down a second-seeded Queens squad on its home field, 2-1, before falling to third-seeded Tusculum, 2-0.

"A lot of positives from the guys in the end result," C-N coach Stephen Lyons said. "Great result in the quarterfinal against Queens, tight game against Tusculum in the semifinal that was separated by a really good individual strike. Even in regular season conference, you know, a couple of ties. If we turn them into wins, we completely finish in a different position and so it's important that we recognize every single game matters.

"Two points dropped here and there or three points dropped is going to be big at the end of the season, so we can't go into any game thinking we're automatically going to win and take care of business."

A trio of Eagles earned All-SAC accolades at the end of last season including Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) on the first team for a second-straight year and Greg Evans (Wrexham, Wales) on the second team. Both served as two of the consistent starters for the team last season with Solem Karlsen starting in 15 of his 17 appearances at the forward position en route to All-Southeast Conference accolades from D2CCA while Evans started in all 17 at the midfield, never subbing out in any of his appearances.

The Eagles said goodbye to 12 players since last season including All-SAC Honorable Mention Sam Jenkins. Nearly 55 percent of the team's 29 goals are back this season with Solem Karlsen accounting for 10 of those goals on his own. Beyond that, 45 percent of last year's 22 assists also make their way back to the Orange and Blue.

"We've got a big squad with a lot of quality and that just makes everybody in the group better," Lyons said. "So, nobody is going to be guaranteed a start. We've got some guys that played over the summer that did really well. The training sessions have been competitive so far and that can only be good, like I said, just to push everybody to have to earn their spot.

Of the players lost between last year to this season, nine were starters throughout the season, opening the door for the returners and 11 newcomers to fill the vacancies.

Last year's regular season SAC co-champions sit atop the preseason poll this year with Lenoir-Rhyne at No. 1 and Queens at No. 2. Just one point separates the two at the top of the table but Lenoir-Rhyne received six first-place votes to just two for Queens.

Reigning SAC Coach of the Year Jack Winter's Lenoir-Rhyne group is expected to win the regular season title for just the second time in program history. He returns two-time All-SAC first team pick Victor Cascon and the 2018 SAC Freshman of the Year Carles Montoliu Lobo.

As for Queens, ninth-year coach Oliver Carias' team said goodbye to SAC Offensive Player of the Year Edmundo Robinson to graduation. This year, the Royals see the return of All-SAC player Michael Hornsby, who has landed on the first team list for the past two seasons.

The next three teams on the list each received one first place vote, as well, with just two points separating them in the poll. Anderson, slated to finish third, brought in 83 points after going 11-6-3 a year ago. The Trojans made an appearance in the SAC Tournament championship game before making a run to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they fell to Lander, 1-0.

Wingate and Tusculum hold down the fourth-place spot on the preseason poll with both teams earning 81 votes. Wingate finished fourth last season while Tusculum went on to win the SAC Tournament championship title with a 2-1 victory over Anderson. The Pioneers made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they were eliminated by Young Harris, 2-1.

Lincoln Memorial sits one spot above C-N in the poll at sixth, gaining one point more than the Eagles as well with 68. The Railsplitters, now under the tutelage of first-year coach Robert Spain, went into the SAC Tournament as the fifth-seed but could not get past Anderson in the quarterfinal, losing 2-1.

Just two points separate projected eighth-place Newberry and ninth-place Mars Hill, earning 40 and 38 points, respectively.

Coker and Catawba round out the poll at 10th and 11th.


2019 Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll


School (First Place Votes)



Lenoir-Rhyne (6)



Queens (2)



Anderson (1)



Wingate (1)



Tusculum (1)



Lincoln Memorial









Mars Hill









Flames next on docket for C-N
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