JEFFERSON CITY — With less than two months standing between the men’s soccer team and the start of its 2019 campaign, Carson-Newman coach Stephen Lyons revealed the schedule for his third season with the program that features nine matches away from Mossy Creek.
Aside from South Atlantic Conference opponents, the Eagles take on a strong slate of nonconference opponents including a meeting later in the season with the reigning Southeast Region champions from Lander.
“Actually would have probably liked at least one more kind of tough game out of conference, weren’t able to pick it up,” Lyons said, “but with Alabama Huntsville, Lee and Lander, yeah, we want to be testing ourselves against the best in the region, best in the nation. Along with the conference schedule which we know is always solid, we’ll get a good measure of how well we’ll match up.”
Six of the first nine games of the season keep the Eagles at the friendly confines of McCown Field before a five-match span of road games heads their way as the season winds down.
The season kicks off on the road with a trip to North Greenville on Sept. 6. C-N holds a 5-6-1 record in season-opening games where it is the visitor. This matchup marks the third-straight season the Eagles will face-off with the Crusaders, a squad they hold a 6-0 record against in the series that dates back to 2003.
C-N follows the opener with back-to-back games against opponents it has not seen in a number of years. The gates to McCown Field open on Sept. 10 as Salem International comes to town for the first time since 2007. In four meetings, the Eagles have not seen a loss to the Tigers, outscoring them 14-1. The nonconference slate rolls on with a trip to Cleveland on Sept. 14 to face a Lee program that C-N last faced in 1991.
A three-game homestand brings the start of league action with Lincoln Memorial on Sept. 18 followed by Newberry on Sept. 21. The Eagles went unbeaten against both teams last season with a win over the Railsplitters and a tie with the Wolves. In the series with Newberry that dates back to 1995, the Orange and Blue have never seen a loss, holding a 24-0-2 record in that time.
“There’s no easy game (in the conference slate),” Lyons said. “So tough from top to bottom. A lot of teams that have been down at the bottom are improving, got some good, young coaches in, so it’s just not going to get any easier, but, again, that’s how you want it. You want to be playing tough games week in, week out, and our conference really provides that.”
The King Tornado heads to the banks of Mossy Creek on Sept. 25 before the Eagles head back into conference play with a sequence against Anderson and the 2018 regular season co-champions from Lenoir-Rhyne and Queens. The dual with Queens on Oct. 5 marks the last home contest in the month of October. C-N was successful in both of its meetings with the Royals in 2018, marking the first time in program history that it had won twice in Charlotte in the same season. The second win came in the SAC Quarterfinals where a seventh-seeded Eagles squad upset the second-seeded Royals.
Lyons’ group embarks on a five-game road test that starts with a journey to Alabama Huntsville on Oct. 8, a side that C-N has defeated in three-straight meetings. From there, the Eagles face SAC foes Coker and Mars Hill before heading to the Palmetto State to tangle with Lander on Oct. 23. The Bearcats went 16-2-3 last season, making it to the NCAA National Quarterfinal where they fell to Barry 2-1.
A meeting at Catawba on Oct. 26 starts the final stretch of SAC games before the regular season comes to a close. C-N hosts Wingate on Nov. 2 for Senior Night before the season finale takes the Eagles on the short jaunt to Greeneville for a rivalry match with Tusculum on Nov. 6. The Pioneers won the SAC Tournament last season with a 2-1 decision over Anderson.
The SAC Championship quarterfinals start on Nov. 9 with the higher seed hosting those matchups. The semifinal and finals will take place at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex at Matthews in Matthews, North Carolina beginning Nov. 15.