JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – South Atlantic Conference play for the Carson-Newman Eagles begins Wednesday when the No. 6 Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters travel to McCown Field in a rivalry matchup.
Last season, the Railsplitters finished the 2018 campaign with a 14-5-2 record, including a pair of wins over Carson-Newman in SAC Championship Final and the NCAA Division II Championship Region Semifinals. The semifinal matchup went all the way to penalty kicks where the Railsplitters advanced 5-3, subsequently ending the Eagles' season. C-N defeated LMU in the regular season in an away contest.
For the new campaign, coach Simon Duffy isn't worried about the past or paying back the favor of a loss and elimination from postseason play, but it does serve as slight motivation for the team.
"I wouldn't say revenge," Duffy said. "I definitely am reminding the players, and they don't need any reminding… They're going to be well up for this game, especially after going toe-to-toe with Lee."
LMU's offensive attack is a potent one. In just four games on the season, the Railsplitters have registered 89 shots on goal.
Duffy cited sophomore Jessica Cravero and senior forward Itzel Ballesteros as two members of the LMU attacking third that C-N will need to keep "at bay" in order to earn their second win on the season.
Cravero returns as the Railsplitters leading returning scorer. In her freshman year, she scored a whopping 19 goals and added five assists for LMU, with no signs of a sophomore slump to be found. She leads her squad in goals with five through four starts in her second season.
"They're a threat up front and they were last year," Duffy said. "They're very dynamic, (one) left-footed and (one) right-footed player. Just good in every aspect of the game."
Three out of four opponents to open the season for C-N are currently ranked by the United Soccer Coaches. The first two, Bellarmine and Lee, resulted in defeat. While a third time could be the charm, what Duffy really wants to see is the team playing at a high level to contend for the win.
"I think if we can play at our best, that's the biggest thing for us," he said. "If we can play our game and move the ball quickly and stifle them and put them under pressure, I think we have a chance. What we're going to have to do is defensively be very, very sound. Deal with crosses and in the midfield track (their) runners.
"But I think if we are to show up and play, I think we have a very good chance in the game."
Wednesday night's game is in support of suicide prevention. The first 50 fans will receive free t-shirts.
Kickoff at McCown Field is scheduled for 5 p.m. The men's soccer team is slated for a 7:30 p.m. to complete part two of a midweek doubleheader. Live coverage can be found on the Eagles Sports Network.