JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With an upset over No. 15 Coker under its belt, Carson-Newman looks to extend its winning streak to four-in-a-row with a midweek meeting at Mars Hill on Wednesday night.
The win over Coker on Saturday marked Carson-Newman's (8-2-1, 4-1-1 South Atlantic Conference) first win over a nationally ranked team since Sept. 21, 2017 when it defeated No. 5 Lenoir-Rhyne. The 1-0 double-overtime victory against the Cobras moves C-N to three shutouts on the season.
"I thought the guys did extremely well defensively to get a clean sheet over the No. 15 team in the nation on the road," Carson-Newman coach Stephen Lyons said. "It just shows the quality of players we have back there. Bram [Kaarsgaren] made some good saves. Defensively, I thought the back four were great.
"I still think we have a few more gears to go. The guys are starting to play some good football, make some good attacks, keeping clean sheets. If we keep adding onto that and building on it, it can be exciting to see just how far this team can go."
With roughly three weeks left in the regular season, the Eagles now sit in the top spot on the SAC standings with 13 points. They hold a three-point advantage on the rest of the field.
Mars Hill (3-7-1, 0-5 SAC), on the other hand, is currently at the bottom of the league table, still without a win in conference play this season. The last time it recorded a conference win was on Sept. 26, 2018 with a 6-2 victory over Catawba. It's most recent conference match resulted in a 4-1 loss to Anderson on Saturday. The Lions have been outscored 27-10 in SAC matches this season.
Four of their last five matches have been losses. The only win in that span came 2-1 in overtime over Erskine on Oct. 9. It has been five years since Mars Hill recorded a winning season, going 9-7-1 in the 2014 campaign. Since then, it has gone 24-47-7 overall.
Wednesday marks the finale in a seven-match homestand for Mars Hill. Since the stretch of home matches began on Sept. 25, the Lions have gone 2-4. When playing on its home field this season, Mars Hill has gone 3-4-1.
"We know they're going to be a difficult team to beat. There's going to be a change in the weather so it will be a total change all around in the game, so it's important that we focus on our game plan," Lyons said. "We have to make sure we are on it for every conference game and bring the energy. We know Mars hill has a few dangerous players that we need to be aware of. If we do that, I think we can get a good result."
Seven Lions have accounted for the team's 10 goals this season. Of those goals, three have come from Joakim Lien.
Sebastian Bertilsson is the only other Lion to have multiple goals under his belt this season, holding two through the first 11 games of the year. The junior forward leads the team with two assists, six points and 25 shots. He is one of the Lions' two returning All-SAC Honorable Mentions from last season, the other being Jeppe Christensen.
Freshmen Brennan Whalen and Eric Winkler have split time in front of the net this season. Whalen started the first eight matches of the season with a 2-5-1 record, allowing 18 goals on 34 saves. Winkler has started in the last three matches, allowing nine goals on 14 saves.
Second-year coach Greg Munn's group has seen back-to-back ties against the Eagles in his tenure. Since the series between C-N and Mars Hill began in 1989, C-N has held a 19-10-5 edge with a substantial 11-3-2 lead when playing at Mars Hill. The Eagles have gone 18 years without a loss at Mars Hill, falling 0-1 in an overtime loss on Oct. 19, 2001. Since that defeat, C-N bounced back with a 6-0-2 in matches played at the Lions' facility with a 42-22 scoring advantage.
Last year's meeting resulted in a 1-1 draw on Oct. 17, 2018. Mars Hill was the first to capitalize as Adnan Saltagic lined up for a free-kick that slid across the pitch and found Matthew Jackson who connected in the 15th minute to put the Lions up 1-0. C-N responded in the 39th minute when Tobias Solem Karlsen (Kongsvinger, Norway) sent a cross to an open Jonny Le Quesne who made the most of an empty left portion of the net, tying the game at one. Carson-Newman held Mars Hill to just eight shots on the night with two on goal while the Eagles sent out 27 shots with 11 on frame.
Wednesday night's 7:30 p.m. kickoff from Meares Stadium can be seen via a live stream from the staff at Mars Hill with live stats provided. Fans can also follow live tweets from @CNathletics on Twitter during the match.