JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With back-to-back wins under its belt to open the year, Carson-Newman heads back on the road for the first Saturday match of the season with a visit to Lee.
Carson-Newman (2-0) enters the matchup following its second-straight clean sheet victory with a 4-0 win over Salem on Tuesday afternoon. The Eagles have outscored their opponents 11-0 through two matches this season with seven different players scoring goals. On the defensive side of the ball, C-N has held its opponents to seven shots. Netminder Bram Kaarsgaren (Den Bosch, The Netherlands) has only been called upon for four saves this season.
"I think we need to be solid defensively," Carson-Newman coach Stephen Lyons said. "We know that Lee is going to be a good test. It's always a good environment down there for the evening games. They're very well settled so it's important that we're defensively organized and disciplined and then when we get opportunities in the final third, we can be a little bit more clinical with the deliveries and finishes on frame, as well."
As of Tuesday, the Eagles are still among the top teams in the nation for multiple statistical categories with 11 goals, 55 shots, nine assists, two shutouts and a .000 goals against average. Numerous Eagles are high on the South Atlantic Conference and national statistical lists. Harry Collins and Thaylan Silva are tied for the top spot in both areas for total assists at three while Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway), the reigning SAC and Tennessee Sports Writers Association Player of the Week, is atop the total goals lists with four on the season.
What's better than one Player of the Week honor after a four-goal game to open the year?— Carson-Newman Athletics (@CNathletics) September 10, 2019
How about 2️⃣? ��@CNmenssoccer forward @tobiasSkarlsen has swept honors from @SAC_Athletics @AstroTurfUSA and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association.
��: https://t.co/CNo1zaQNWg pic.twitter.com/2y7M5fuWUX
In goal, Kaarsgaren is still leading in goals against, goals against average and save percentage, as well, thanks to the two clean sheets C-N has recorded.
Lee has only played one full game this season despite holding a 1-0-1 record. The last time the Flames took the field, they faced a scoreless draw against Lincoln Memorial in a match that was shortened to 82 minutes due to lightning. They opened the year with a 1-0 win over Embry-Riddle with Owen Keck scoring the lone goal in that match.
The Gulf South Conference preseason poll predicted Lee to finish third in the league with two first-place votes this season after collecting a 9-7-3 record through the 2018 campaign. It made a run to the semifinals of the GSC Tournament last year but lost to eventual conference champion Spring Hill, 3-2.
Through the 2018 season, Lee allowed the fewest goals in the regular season among GSC teams at 16 while giving up just below a goal per game at .94.
Lee's defensive unit brings back two All-GSC and All-South Region picks from last year who also landed spots on the preseason All-GSC team in senior goalkeeper Daniel Hrenko and senior defender Samir Williams. Hrenko started in all 19 matches for the Flames last season in front of the net, allowing 19 shots overall with 70 saves and six shutouts. Williams played and started in 17 matches and was credited with a pair of assists during the season.
Through the first two matches of the season, Hrenko is tied for the top spot in the GSC for save percentage and save percentage at .000 and 1.000, respectively. Among the active leaders in Division II for save percentage, he is sixth at .798.
Junior midfielder Jared McWhorter also returns to the Flames this season as a preseason All-GSC selection started in 18 of his 19 appearances. He brought in a trio of goals and assists for nine points on the year.
Five of Lee's goal scorers from last year return to the team this year, totaling in 19 of Lee's 34 goals scored in 2018. Leading the returning group of scorers is Samaan Williams who found the net eight times last year.
Against current teams from the GSC, the Eagles are 9-9-1 all-time and have won two-straight matchups against GSC teams.
Saturday will be the fourth meeting between Carson-Newman and Lee dating back to 1989. The last time the two battled was in 1991, also in Cleveland, Tenn. That meeting resulted in the only win C-N has seen in history, shutting out the Flames 2-0.