JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – When the Eagles take the field for Saturday evening's contest against the Queens Royals, coach Simon Duffy will be looking for a high level of confidence and desire from his squad.
After losing their first regular-season conference match since 2016, both coincidentally coming at the hands of Lenoir-Rhyne, the Eagles (5-3, 3-1 South Atlantic Conference) will go again from the friendly confines of McCown Field against the Royals (6-3-1, 2-2 SAC). Facing the adversity of a loss, it's up to the team to decide how they move forward according to Duffy.
"The biggest thing for us is going to be the mental aspect – to see if we can bounce back," Duffy said. "I want to see a focused group from the warm-up all the way through. I want to see a team that wants it, that is hungry, that has desire, and I want them to play without fear…Once you do that, you have a lot more creativity and good things happen from that."
In nonconference play, C-N opened the season with a 1-0 loss at Bellarmine and also fell 2-0 to a nationally top-5 ranked Lee side. Both times, the Eagles rebounded with a win in the following contest.
"It's just a strength in mentality in that belief that we have as a team," Duffy said. "There's going to be setbacks and we're going to play against really good opponents and we're not going to win them all, and that's life. So we have to make sure that we're putting ourselves in good opportunities and making sure our players know their roles and responsibilities."
Queens is coming off of a 2-0 victory over Tusculum, but also were served with a defeat (4-1) from Lenoir-Rhyne on Sept. 28. Currently fourth on the table in the SAC, Saturday's game will dictate sole possession of third place which is now held by C-N.
Junior forward Lulu Phan returns to the Royals after earning All-SAC Second Team honors following her sophomore campaign in 2018. Phan, an IMG Academy product from Guilford, England, has scored four goals on 48 shots this year while adding in two assists for a total of 10 points – all of which lead her team, respectively.
To limit her production, as well as a flurry of youthful teammates such as freshman forward Nia Gaither, will be crucial for Duffy.
"It's knowing who good players are and trying to stop them," Duffy said. "We have to make sure that our players are well-versed in what to look out for, and we need to be the best form of ourselves."
Offensively, C-N was shut out for the third time this season – a lack of offensive production that hasn't happened since the 2014 season. While the chances for shots have been taken by forwards such as Makayla Garner (Fort Mill, S.C.), Delaney Griffin (Franklin, Tenn.) and Emilee Futrell (Wilson, N.C.) the caliber of those chances didn't result in balls landing on target against LR. C-N's one shot on goal against Lenoir-Rhyne was its lowest on the season.
"A bit more quality" in the final third has been a point of focus for Duffy in team review. Using more patience and the team's adept movement, C-N will hope to get more shots on goal – and more team celebrations after the fact.
"It's going to be another tough contest for us especially after coming off of the game on Wednesday night," Duffy said. "We want our players to push on, so we're looking definitely for a response from the game (against Queens)."
Kickoff at McCown Field is slated for 5 p.m. with live coverage provided on the Eagles Sports Network.