JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Lenoir-Rhyne was the only team to draw Carson-Newman in 2017 when the two teams met in Mossy Creek on Sept. 20. The Eagles and Bears will square off to open up the conference schedule on Wednesday in Hickory, N.C. with a start time scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
C-N's (2-2) five-game win streak to open up last season was halted late into the match against L-R (2-1-1) when Rachel Fischer tallied a goal in the 87th minute to draw the game even. Each side remained scoreless in OT which results in a tie during the regular season.
"We took it as a loss," Duffy said. "We knew they were up for it after losing the previous two games which is unusual for them. Going forward from there got us refocused and able to move forward but we definitely need to be up for this game not only because it's Lenoir-Rhyne, but because it's at their place where it's a tough place to go and play."
The Eagles trail in the all-time series 12-19-3 with seven losses coming in the last nine meetings. Despite the struggle against the Bears nearly for the last decade, the program is s 27-3-2 against conference opponents over the last three regular season meetings outscoring league foes 101-23. Including tournament matches, the record improves to 36-3-2 with a difference in scoring of 121-25.
"They just know the importance of showing up for conference games and that's a vital part of what we are trying to do as our non-conference schedule is one of the toughest in the country," Duffy mentioned.
Simon Duffy's squad came off a 3-2 OT win over Lee University on Saturday which eclipsed the program's 300th win after Kennedy Rankin (Dearborn, Mich.) struck home the game winner in the 93rd minute. The Flames had just come off a 3-2 win over No. 18 ranked North Georgia.
Lenoir-Rhyne, on the other hand, comes off a 1-1 tie at No. 24 Tampa on Sunday. Senior forward and All-SAC preseason first-team selection Abbie Brown scored just over three minutes into the game before Tampa tied it in the 76th minute.
The Bears also played Lees-McRae in their season opener winning 1-0, a game in which the Eagles won 7-0 over the Bobcats. L-R has gone to overtime twice this season including the game against Tampa earlier this week. They lost to Belmont Abbey 2-1 in 2OT on Sept. 3.
Gary Higgins side was picked to finish fourth in the South Atlantic Conference preseason polls after 6-3-1 conference record and 11-5-2 overall in 2017. Higgins was hired in January of 2015 and earned SAC Coach of the Year just one season later. His side won a share of the SAC Regular Season Championship a year later in 2017. Lenoir-Rhyne also earned a berth in the NCAA Division II Playoffs. In three seasons, Higgins has compiled a 36-14-6 as Bears mentor.
Three players – Brown (Leeds, England), junior midfielder Abigael McGarel (Morristown, Tenn.) and junior defender Christina Shimshock (Asheville, N.C.) – all were selected to the All-SAC Preseason First Team.
Brown led the Bears in goals scored (seven), assists (five) and total points (19) while McGarel added three goals, one assist and seven points. McGarel, the 2016 SAC Freshman of the Year, has earned all-league honors in each of her first two seasons.
Shimshock started 16 matches and picked up two assists as a defender. With her strong play, the Bears' goals-against average in 2017 was 0.96 as the team posted seven clean sheets.
In the latest region polls, C-N jumped from No. 7 in the Southeast Region polls to No. 4 as they sit behind Georgia College, Limestone, and Columbus State who sits at the top. After falling from No. 2 to out of the nation's top-25, the Eagles at least received a few votes but sat at No. 26. Lee University, who C-N topped on Saturday, jumped from outside the top-25 to claiming the 21st spot.