JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – No. 20 Carson-Newman and Wingate will meet for the second time in 10 days when the first round of the South Atlantic Conference Tournament kicks off on Tuesday, Oct. 30. Game time from McCown Field is set for 5:00 p.m. All students with a student ID will receive free entry to the game.
C-N (12-3) has won five out of the last six against the Bulldogs (7-6-2) outscoring them 9-2 over the span. The Eagles have played Wingate an overall of six times in the conference tournament, three of which have come in the first round. All matches in the quarterfinals have come at McCown Field where C-N holds a 2-1 edge in such games. In 1996, C-N fell 2-1 in overtime before following it up with a 1-0 win in 2000 and a 3-2 win in 2005. The other three games in the series, C-N has topped Wingate in SAC Title match outscoring the Bulldogs 7-1 (2015-17).
After collecting a 3-0 win over the eighth-seeded Bulldogs in their previous meeting, C-N claimed its fourth-consecutive regular season SAC Championship earning the top seed in the league tournament. The top-four teams in the league tables host their respective matches in the SAC Quarterfinals before the remaining games move to Rock Hill, S.C.
"I think our players are well aware of how massive it is to get that home fixture," Coach Simon Duffy said. "We feel comfortable with it and I really don't have to stress it much to them but it proved how much its helped us out last year and this year."
The Eagles have reached the SAC tournament for the 22nd time in the program's history since its inception in 1991, a total of 28 years. Since missing the postseason in 2014, C-N has not allowed a goal in the first round outscoring teams 5-0. The Eagles are just 10-11 in first round games all-time; however, nine of the 10 wins have come since the 2003 season.
"Everything we have is into this game," Duffy said. "It's a one and done mentality and we need to have that attitude to leave everything out there. We've had some wonderful chances over the past few weeks and we've hit the crossbar and the post more times than I care to remember so I might have to grease the insides of the posts. We're fortunate enough to have some good goal scorers and we just need to be clinical in front of the net when we get those opportunities."
Wingate has gone to the SAC title match in eight straight seasons with C-N looking for their fourth-straight appearance. The Bulldogs have not been an eight-seed since the 2007 season when they went 5-11-1 overall and 1-6 in the conference. That season the SAC had just nine teams which included Brevard as a provisional member.
The five conference losses in 2018 are the most since that aforementioned 2007 season. Excluding the 2007 campaign, the lowest seed Wingate has been since was 5th in 2009 after going 4-3-1 in league play.
The North Carolina native was predicted to finish third in the SAC preseason polls behind Queens and C-N. They were the only team outside of the Eagles to receive a first-place vote.
Wingate has outscored opponents 46-26 over its eight-straight runs to the SAC title match, going 3-5 in championship games. C-N and Wingate have also combined for eight of the past 10 titles.
The Bulldogs are led by Chip Wiggins who is ninth all-time in the SAC with 74 career wins (74-25-13). His record in league play sits at 45-14-5.
Wingate is 5-2-1 in home matches in 2018 as opposed its under .500 performance on the road at 2-4-1. Sophie Jendrzejczyk leads the team in goals with four as 13 different players have scored at least one goal for the Bulldogs. Kimmi Moore and Taylor Krakower are tied for the team lead with three goals apiece in conference play.