JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The 2019 campaign for the Carson-Newman men's soccer team gets underway on Friday evening with a visit to Tigerville, S.C. to take on North Greenville at 7 p.m.
"The boys have put the work in and now they're just ready for the start of the season," Carson-Newman coach Stephen Lyons said. "We had a couple of good preseason scrimmages and the group that will be ready for Friday is one I'm excited about. They're excited about playing. We are all excited about getting going."
The Eagles have gone 14-15-1 in season-opening games since 1989 and currently hold a four-match winning streak in lidlifters. When starting the season on the road, C-N has gone 6-5-1. Its last true loss in that scenario came in 2009 in a 2-1 loss to St. Andrews. The Eagles defeated Tampa on its home field in the 2014 opener, 4-2, but that match was forfeited due to them playing an ineligible player who received a red card in the national championship at the end of the 2013 season.
Carson-Newman is coming off of a 2018 campaign that saw it go 4-2-1 in road games, a perfect 2-0 in nonconference matches where it was the visitor. In those matches, the Orange and Blue outscored its opponents 13-9. Of those 13 road goals, nine were scored by Eagles returning to the roster this season including six from Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) alone. He found the back of the net in both of the final two road matches the Eagles played last season.
This year marks the second time in three seasons that Carson-Newman is opening its calendar with North Greenville. The other occurrence also came on the Crusaders' home pitch with C-N taking a 3-0 win to start the 2017 season.
In six meetings with the Crusaders, C-N has yet to see a loss, splitting wins at home and on the road at three victories each. Carson-Newman has not allowed North Greenville to score in any of the matchups, either, outscoring the Crusaders 25-0 since their first meeting in 2003. The largest margin of victory for the Eagles came on Sept. 15, 2004 with a 9-0 win in Tigerville.
Last year's meeting between the Eagles and Crusaders resulted in a 3-0 C-N home victory that was highlighted by Ashley Kelynack's first multi-goal game. He scored twice in the second half and set the program record for most attempted shots in a single game with 14.
"I think the biggest thing we always talk about as a group is the work rate," Lyons said. "We need to be prepared to go in, work hard and, hopefully with the talent that we have, good things are going to happen when the group pulls together and buys into what we have been asking of them on the training ground and the style we want to play.
"It's one of those games where you cannot take any opponent likely. We've got to set the record for ourselves going into this year and into this game."
North Greenville heads into this season projected to finish ninth in the Conference Carolinas preseason poll. This comes after the Crusaders weren't 6-9-1 a year ago, forcing them to miss out on league tournament action. They saw a three-match without a loss in the earlier parts of the season with wins over Erskine and Clayton State bookending a 2-2 draw with Lees-McRae.
Fourth-year coach Bill Martin's group returns 17 players from last year's group, including two of its leading scorers from 2018 in junior Gareth Green and sophomore Zach Baker. The pair of forwards combined for 12 of NGU's 30 goals in 2018.
Greene tied for seventh last year in the conference with seven goals. Among the team, he led the way with 39 points, 39 shots and 20 shots on goal.
Noah Kendrick makes his return to the net this year after starting in 16 matches last year. The junior collected the second most saves in the Conference Carolinas a year ago with 112 but also allowed the second-most goals among conference netminders with 34. On the national level, he was third for total saves while sitting in fifth for saves per game with seven.
North Greenville has seen just two seasons with a winning percentage of .500 or better since 2009, going 8-8 in 2011 and 9-8-1 in 2009. Save for those two seasons, the Crusaders have gone 29-86-5 since 2009.
Friday's match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. from Pepsi Stadium. The folks at North Greenville will provide a live broadcast of the match. Updates throughout the game can be found on Twitter via @CNathletics.