Jefferson City, Tenn. – Coach Simon Duffy's squad was without two players over the weekend who were integral to the team's success in 2017 when they took on ranked opponents in No. 10 West Florida and No. 12 Columbus State to begin the 2018 campaign.
"I'm extremely proud of the two girls for being called up for their respective national teams," Duffy mentioned. "Obviously we would've loved to have had them for our opening two games but what an honor it is for them to be representing their countries."
Burns earned first-team preseason all-conference honors as she's poised to follow up a stellar sophomore campaign in goal. She was named All-SAC second-team at the end of the regular season which included six straight shutouts from Oct. 7 to Oct. 31, a new-school record. The Northern Ireland native started in all 23 games for Carson-Newman which included 11 solo shutouts on the year.
She grabbed first-team USC All-Region honors and second-team All-Region from D2CCA. Burns allowed just two goals in regulation during the five-game NCAA Tournament run. She has the second record all-time for shutouts in a career during the D2 era with 25.3, and has still two years left to build on the resume. She is also the all-time winningest goalkeeper in program history with 37 wins. Burns needs just one more shutout to become the South Atlantic Conferences' all-time leader.
"Being selected to play for Northern Ireland is always a great opportunity," exclaimed Burns. "Putting on the jersey and walkout to play is the best feeling ever. Knowing that the hard work and preparation that has been done prior to playing has paid off to be able to play on the international stage.
"It's a great experience playing against top teams like the Netherlands and Ireland, especially since the Netherlands are the reigning European Champs and the team I earned my first international cap against. A lot of these players are ones I inspire to be when I finish my college career. It's great to come back to Carson-Newman and bring my experience to the team. It has me excited for the season and I'm ready to get going."
The midfielder Realista posted a solid year for the Eagles coming in as a transfer. She became a centerpiece in the teams run to the National Championship collecting a total of 11 points on the year with three goals and five assists as a midfielder. The senior's first goal as an Eagle came in the second game of the season as she let go of a shot from 30 yards out which struck the back of the net in a 5-1 win against Georgia College on Sept. 3rd.
Four of her five assists on the year came during the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament with an assist coming in the NCAA Final. Realista started in 17 of the 19 games in which she played helping the Eagles claim a third-straight SAC regular season and championship title. She was named to the 2017 SAC All-Tournament team.
"I love playing for C-N but as an international, it involves some personal sacrifices and one of them is being away from my family, friends, and country," Realista stated. "Being able to represent Portugal, it makes up for those sacrifices as it's an honor to represent Portugal. I think once you play for your national team you start loving and defending your country, even more, a deeper feeling of patriotism grows inside of you.
"I could not be happier for the call-up, however, none of this would have been possible if I did not have an amazing team and a fantastic coaching staff here at Carson-Newman. Without the work we put in every day as a team, I would have never got this opportunity.
Both players are expected to return to the squad in the coming days. The Eagles kicked off the year with back-to-back losses for the first time since 2014, and are excited to be back at full strength soon.
"This shows where our program is and where it's going," Duffy added. "I wish both of them the best of luck in Tuesday's games and we are looking forward to having them back especially to get them before conference play."
The Eagles will return to McCown Field on Wednesday to face Lees-McRae, then hit the road on Saturday for a matchup with Lee University.