VIDEO: Matt Carr Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. -- The final installment in a three-part series highlighting each of the Carson-Newman men's soccer positions for the 2019 season has arrived. The walk up the pitch comes to a close with a look at the attacking unit of defenders and goalkeepers.
The defenders bring a slew of depth this season with a team-high 13 Eagles vying for playing time. Leadership positions are wide open within the group after the departure of three-year starter, two-time All-SAC pick and 2017 D2CCA All-Southeast Region Second Team selection Samuel Jenkins.
"What stands out [about the unit] is just the high-level of players that we have with the returning players," Carson-Newman assistant coach Matt Carr said. "You know, obviously, with that experience knowing the SAC conference, the league, the level we're playing at is really important, but then to have a really talented young group coming in that are going to be able to compete right away for some of those defensive positions."
Of the eight defensive starters for C-N last year, five return to the position this season – Evan Harr (Bristol, Tenn.), James Coady (Franklin, Tenn.), Drew Bridge (Salisbury, England), Kensho Yoshikoshi (Japan) and Ben King (Hertfordshire, England).
Among those, Yoshikoshi saw the most time on the pitch as a defender last season, starting there in 13 of his 17 appearances. Throughout the entire season, he provided depth all over the pitch, scoring two goals, recording a pair of assists and sending 12 shots with seven landing on frame.
Down the stretch last season, Bridge was a mainstay for the defenders, starting in the final eight games of the season. In that time, he netted his lone goal and assist of the season in the regular season finale against Catawba.
Van Dijk comes to C-N from Hanzehogeschool Groningen where he scored seven goals, including five in 2018-19. The incoming junior was also a member of the champions second class group in 2018-19.
Miller had a hand in the recent success of the Signal Mountain High School soccer program. The freshman was named an All-County and Tennessee All-Star with Signal Mountain while helping the Eagles to a TSSAA Finals appearance in 2018 along with three division and region championship titles. Individually, he scored 10 goals with 23 assists in his career under Richard Northcutt.
Like the defenders, the goalkeeper spot now has an open leadership slot after two-year starting netminder Twan Verweij graduated this past year. With Verweij gone, Matt Meschendorf (Knoxville, Tenn.), Joe Boyd (Nottingham, England) and newcomer Bram Kaarsgaren (The Netherlands) will be competing for the starting spot.
Meschendorf has yet to see playing time with the Eagles after redshirting during his freshman campaign. Boyd brings added leadership to the position in his fourth year with the program. While he redshirted last season, he saw playing time as a freshman and sophomore, playing in 15 and three matches, respectively. The 2016 All-SAC Honorable Mention has not seen a start in front of the net since Oct. 18, 2017 in C-N's 2-2 tie with Tusculum.
Much like Verweij, incoming junior Kaarsgaren brings a monstrous height to the net, standing at 6-foot-7.
"He's got a big presence, his English is very good as well, so he's going to be a pretty good communicator and good organizer back there," Carr said. "I expect for him to go straight in and be a leader and really push Joe and push Matt for that starting position."
The Carson-Newman men's soccer season gets underway in exactly one week with a trip to Tigerville, S.C. to face North Greenville on Sept. 6. That match is slated to begin at 7 p.m.