JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – No. 13 Carson-Newman hits the road to wrap up a five-match road stint, this time traveling to Salisbury, N.C. in hopes of a bounce-back victory in a South Atlantic Conference contest with the Catawba College Catawba Indians on Saturday night.
The Eagles (9-3-1, 5-1-1 SAC) are coming off of a 1-0 upset at the hands of Lander on Wednesday night, their first loss since Oct. 2 when they fell to Lenoir-Rhyne, 4-2. After each of the previous losses on the year, C-N was able to follow-up with a pair of 2-1 wins.
"It's a matter of just regrouping and taking the positives from the way we played into Saturday's game," Carson-Newman coach Stephen Lyons said. "We have to learn from the little areas that cost us the game because we know that Catawba is going to be another tough conference opponent. It's a tough place to go late on a Saturday night, so the guys just have to be positive and get back to the game plan."
This match marks the start of the final stretch of conference games for the year. Lyons' group has won three-straight conference matches this season, two of those coming in clean sheets over then-No. 15 Coker in double-overtime and Mars Hill.
C-N has racked up a 4-2-1 record in road matches in the 2019 campaign, outscoring opponents 14-4 in those games. It still sits at the top of the conference table alongside Wingate as the season begins to dwindle, both teams holding 16 points.
Catawba (6-6, 2-5 SAC), on the other hand, sits at the second-to-last spot in the league standings with six points. It has not seen a home victory defeating Lees-McRae on Oct. 9, 4-2, going 4-3 at the Frock Athletic Complex this year. It heads into the match following a week away from action after losing back-to-back matches, the most recent being a 6-3 loss to Tusculum on Oct. 19. The side has not seen a conference win since defeating Lincoln Memorial on Oct. 12, 1-0.
Sixth-year coach Ken Hassler's team was predicted to finish last in the conference coming into the year after a 3-12 campaign in 2018 with a 0-10 record in league action. It has been three years since Catawba last saw a winning season, going 10-7 in 2016, 7-5 in conference games. Since then, it has gone 11-29-2.
The Catawba Indians are in the top five of 11 statistical categories in the conference. They sit in second with 2.00 assists per game, 6.83 points per game, 2.42 goals for average, 16.83 shots per game and 24 assists. The team is 15th in the nation for shots per game and 18th for both assists per game and shots on goal per game.
Keenan Tuck has been a mainstay in the Catawba Indians' Starting XI this season with 11 starts in 12 appearances. He leads the team with five goals and a pair of assists for 12 points. He has netted two game-winners thus far, tying him for fifth in the conference.
Like Tuck, Borja Gaspar has also found the back of the net five times this season, but he leads the team in game-winners with three, a tally that lands him in a tie for third in the league and 19th in the nation. Eight of his 22 shot attempts have landed on frame.
Sophomores Luc Denisselle and Gianluca Tommasi have split time in front of the net for the Catawba Indians this season. In nine starts, Denisselle has allowed 17 goals on 36 saves with a 5-4-0 record. He has been credited with all three of the team's shutouts this season. Tommasi has started in three of his four appearances, being called upon for 16 saves with 11 goals against. He is 1-2-0 on the year.
"I think Catawba is well-organized and hard-working," Lyons said. "They've got a few key players that we have to be aware of. Defensively, they get back and get organized well so it's important for us to be patient in our positions and take those opportunities when they come."
Carson-Newman has won four of the last five meetings with Catawba with a 12-5 scoring advantage. The Eagles have left Salisbury with a victory in their last two visits, holding a slim 9-6 leads in such matches.
The last time these two sides met, Carson-Newman secured a 2-1 senior night victory that sent it to the 2018 SAC Quarterfinals. Drew Bridge (Salisbury, England) broke a scoreless tie in the 49th minute with his first career goal. He provided an assist on Tobias Solem Karlsen's (Kongsvinger, Norway) goal in the 54th minute to give C-N at 2-0 lead. Catawba answered 20 seconds later on a penalty kick from Hunter Faust after a C-N foul in the box. The Eagles held onto their lead for the remainder of the game, holding Catawba to just six shots on the night, the lowest of any C-N opponent through the 2018 campaign.
Saturday's match is slated to begin at 8 p.m. under the lights of the Frock Athletic Complex. Catawba will provide with a live stream and live stats with live tweets coming to you from @CNathletics on Twitter.