JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Top-seeded Carson-Newman's road to a South Atlantic Conference Championship appearance gets a bit tougher for the group as the Eagles will face the fifth-seeded Catawba College Catawba Indians for the second time in six days. Game time from Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C. is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.
The two sides met on Oct. 27 at McCown Field to close out the regular season as coach Simon Duffy's unit collected the victory in double-overtime following Holly Talbut Smith's goal in the 101st minute.
"They're a well-organized group and that was proven on Saturday," Duffy said. "They work extremely hard and challenge for everything. They won't shy away from a tackle or headers and they'll be going 100 percent. We need to make sure we match that because we can't have other players or teams outworking us.
Catawba comes off a 1-0 win on the road in the SAC Quarterfinal match vs. fourth-seeded Anderson Trojans. Shelby Vasich's goal in the 18th minute was all that was needed as Catawba outshot Anderson 16-6, including a 10-4 advantage in shots on goal.
Goalkeeper Shelby Thompson recorded three saves in the win and was an integral part of the reason the Indians took the Eagles to two overtimes on Oct, 27 as she collected 10 saves, the highest mark for the senior this season.
Catawba's Jovana Sanchez cracked first-team All-SAC for her efforts in 2018. She has six goals and six assists in 17 games, but just one goal in conference matches. Defenders Katie Beck and Katie Webb were each honored as honorable mentions along with the aforementioned goalkeeper Thompson.
The Indians are top three in a number of offensive categories including shots on goal, total shots, and goals scored which sits at 32.
Catawba has been awarded an unreal amount of corners in 2018 which sits at 127, tops in the league. C-N is the next closest team with 105, then it falls off to 80 where Queens holds the third spot.
Catawba is led by Nick Brown who took the reins of the Catawba College Women's Soccer Program in the spring of 2015. A former player for the Catawba men's team, Brown had served an assistant with the women's program since 2010. Prior to becoming Catawba's head coach, he was at the helm at Lake Norman High School.
The 13 wins this season for the program is the most since the 2012 campaign when they finished the year 13-7. Following a dominant run from 2002-2009 in which the lowest win total was 12 in a single season, Catawba has not been higher than 5th in the league tournament.
The Eagles will appear in the SAC semifinal match for the 12th time in the program's history in the 22 years they've gone to the tournament. C-N holds a 7-4 record in semifinal games.
C-N has won six out of the last seven contests against the Indians including wins in the last five and the lone loss coming in 2014. C-N has outscored Catawba 21-5 which includes three clean sheets over that span.
C-N has also played Catawba three times in the SAC semifinal with C-N holding a 2-1 advantage outscoring the Indians 6-4 in such games. The Eagles and Indians have met in the SAC tourney a total of 11 times with C-N holding a 5-2 advantage.
Manchester Meadows has a turf field as opposed to grass. The Eagles have played just one game all season on turf and that came in a 2-0 win at Queens.
"We absolutely love playing on turf," Duffy said. "Because of how we like to play and move the ball, we can be at our best. I think we proved that against the Royals as it was one of our better games of the season so I'm looking forward to Friday."