JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Non-conference play continues with another formidable opponent for Carson-Newman when the No. 12 Lee Flames travel to McCown Field on Friday.
The Flames (1-1) found themselves one game away from the NCAA Division II National Championship game last season, finishing the 2018 season with a 17-7-1 record including a 9-4 record in the Gulf South Conference. Lee's postseason run was brought to a halt by eventual championship runner-up Grand Valley State. To begin the season this year, Lee re-challenged the Lakers in a 3-0 loss last Saturday.
"Looking at Lee, I think it's genuinely the same team returning minus a forward up top," head coach Simon Duffy said. "It's a very experienced side, they know what they're doing and it's going to be a tough one for us to come up against."
In both games to open the 2019 campaign the Eagles have shown flashes of brilliance in the offensive third. Freshman forward Makayla Garner (Fort Mill, S.C.) knocked home a pair of goals in her second collegiate match Sunday against Young Harris, and the team has outshot its two opponents by a combined 27-22 margin. However, piecing together a full 90-minute effort will be key for C-N to knock off its first ranked opponent this season and is a goal set for Duffy's squad.
"We're going to have to make sure that the team that came out in the first half against Young Harris is the same team that comes out against Lee on Friday because it's going to be a fantastic match," Duffy said. "We've got to make sure that these games that we've scheduled, which we knew were going to be tough, that we go out and put in a performance and hopefully get a result."
Junior midfield Kelsey Yoder returns as the Flames' leading goal scorer. Yoder scored 10 goals and added one assist in 2018 during her sophomore campaign. Serving as a penalty shot specialist, she scored five goals on six attempts accounting for half of her goals on the year.
Redshirt senior goalie Taylor Green also returns for her final season. She started in every game all 25 fixtures for the Flames, recording an impressive 118 saves while only allowing 28 goals on 289 shots faced. Green also tallied 10 shutouts on a .808 save percentage.
The Eagles matchup against Lee is the second part of a five-game homestand for C-N. Since 2015, the team has recorded a 36-3-2 record at McCown Field.
It isn't often that Carson-Newman enters into a home contest as an underdog on paper, but Friday's match serves as an exception. The last time C-N faced a higher-ranked opponent in the regular season at home was in 2015, where the Eagles upset No. 13 Lenoir-Rhyne 3-2. Using their home-field advantage, Duffy is hopeful that a long week of practice and the lack of travel will help to keep his team fresh.
"It's so big," said Duffy on the advantages gained from playing at home. "Playing at home has so many benefits, the girls are more familiar with it. I'm hoping within these five games we can get ourselves well-oiled so we know each other, and that the players can put in a performance and start gaining some confidence in themselves before we hit the road again."
Kickoff at McCown Field against the Flames is scheduled for Friday at 7 p.m. with live coverage provided by the Eagles Sports Network.