JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – With a majority of the home schedule complete, a variety of road trips are in store for Carson-Newman with the first stop being Tigerville, S.C. in a nonconference tilt against North Greenville.
"I'm hoping that we can come out, put our best foot forward and just from the first whistle make sure we're doing the right things," coach Simon Duffy said. "Big thing is going to be mindset. Five away games coming up, we need to make sure we make them as comfortable for ourselves as possible."
The five-game jaunt across the Carolinas will run until Oct. 26 with conference foes Coker, Mars Hill and Catawba lining the way. The Crusaders of North Greenville are the first of two Conference Carolinas opponents left on the schedule for the Eagles (6-3, 3-1 South Atlantic Conference), with a matchup against Limestone marked on the calendar on Oct. 23. Earlier in the season, C-N took down fellow Conference Carolinas member Belmont Abbey by a 3-0 score on Sept. 25.
North Greenville comes into Wednesday's contest with a 5-2 (4-1 Conference Carolinas) record overall and is on a two-game winning streak. The Crusaders are currently third in the conference standings. Last season, a 10-6 record earned them their second-consecutive winning season and a spot in the conference tournament where they lost in the quarterfinals to Barton.
A pair of Conference Carolinas All-Conference Third Team selections also return from last year's team in midfielder Abby Robinson and goalie Brianna Rowe. In seven games this year, Robinson has two goals and one assist for a total of five points. Rowe has played in all seven games, logging 460 minutes on 25 saves and eight goals allowed.
Sophomore forward Megan Biehl is the leading goal scorer for the Crusaders. In seven games (five starts), Biehl has scored six goals and added three assists for a total of 15 points which ranks second in her conference and tied for 38th overall in the country across all NCAA Division II women's soccer.
North Greenville has been a rather offensive team thus far. In seven games the team has scored 22 goals, which ranks third in the Conference Carolinas respectively. Nine of the team's total goals on the year came in one contest – a 9-0 thrashing of Erskine College on Sept. 14.
Defense, however, continues to be the name of the game for C-N. The Eagles are fourth in the SAC in fewest goals against, only allowing nine goals through its first nine games.
Junior defense Kristina Markfort continues to excel in the defensive third for the Eagles while provided needed insurance of goals scored in the offensive third of the pitch. Markfort tied her season total in goals from last year in one game Saturday against Queens, finding the back of the net twice for her first career brace.
"She can do what not a whole lot of players can, not just on our team, but in our conference and in our region," Duffy said. "To do what she did on Saturday, there's not a whole lot of people that can do that. To have the awareness to see where the keeper is, being able to move the ball like she did and strike the ball from 35 yards, it's exceptional."
Wednesday will serve as the first-ever meeting between the two sides. This is the second team scheduled for the 2019 season that C-N has never played, the first being Bellarmine to open the season.
Three of the five teams that C-N will be playing on the road have records of .500 or better. According to official NCAA stats through all games on Oct. 7, C-N sports the sixth toughest strength of schedule in all of Division II women's soccer. The conditioning of playing tough opponents to this point will hope to serve Duffy's squad well while they are away from the friendly confines of McCown Field.
"The teams we've played thus far have really challenged us and hopefully will prepare us for these next games in October," Duffy said.
Play at Pepsi Stadium in Tigerville, S.C. is slated for 5 p.m.