VIDEO: Richard Moodie Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn – With just four games remaining on their 2016 schedule, the Carson-Newman men's soccer team will attempt to get their season back on track as they host the seventh-ranked Tusculum Pioneers at McCown Field at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
After starting the season 4-1, the Eagles have had a difficult time since then, dropping six of eight with five of those losses coming against South Atlantic Conference opponents. They enter this match following a 2-1 overtime loss at Wingate, putting them at 6-7 so far in 2016, the first time they've been below .500 this late in a season since 2011. In the SAC, they've fallen to 2-5, which has them tied for ninth. They've also lost three straight for the second time this season, after not losing three-in-a-row at any point during 2015. C-N will be attempting to avoid their longest losing streak since 2002.
"I thought the game on Saturday was very good against the No. 4 team in the country," Soccer Coach Richard Moodie said. "The boys are still playing hard. They had a great attitude and lots of energy in practice today. I'm happy with my team and with what we are doing. Moving forward, it's important that we develop characteristics and lay a foundation that we can build on for the years to come."
The Pioneers finished sixth in the SAC last season and were picked fifth in the conference preseason poll, but they've risen all the way to seventh in the national rankings. They are 8-0 in the SAC and 12-0 overall and currently sit second in the conference to Wingate, as the Bulldogs are also undefeated and have played one more league game. Tusculum moved into the NSCAA rankings in the third week of the season, the first time they earned a spot in the rankings since 2009, and they have remained ranked ever since.
So far this year, Tusculum has totaled 30 goals, the third-most in the SAC and they're averaging the second-most per-game. Their offensive attack is being led by junior Andre De Giorgi, who has 11 goals to his credit this season, the second most in the league and tied for the 15th most in the nation. His 23 points are also the SAC's second most and De Giorgi's year has included three two-goal games, two of which have come in his team's last four matches. Senior Tyler Linkous leads the team in assists with three.
Tom Read (London, England) has been the main cog in Carson-Newman's offense this season, as his 10 assists still place him atop the SAC and are third in country. He's also third in the conference in points with 20 and is second on the team with five goals. Marius Staalby (Trondheim, Norway) tops the squad with six goals and also has three assists, the team's second most. The Eagles have benefitted from receiving production from a number of difference sources on offense, as they've had 14 different players score goals this year after a 2015 season in which they only had 11 goal scorers.
Goalkeeper Joe Boyd (Nottingham, England) enters Wednesday off perhaps his best game as an Eagle. The freshman made a career-high nine saves on Saturday and this came less than two weeks after an eight save performance in C-N's 4-0 win over King (Tenn.). Boyd has made his way into third place in the SAC with 55 saves and also finds himself fifth in the league with a .753 save percentage. He's also registered three clean sheets this season while starting every game in net for coach Moodie.
After facing one of their conference's top goalies on Saturday in Wingate's Pablo Jara, the Eagles will face another one of the SAC's best keepers in Tusculum's Jorge Alvarez. The senior was named second-team All-SAC in the preseason and has spent 2016 living up to those expectations. He has the league's best save percentage at .821 and is second to Jara in goals-against average at 0.82. The 10 goals he's conceded are also tied for the second fewest and he has two clean sheets this year.
When these teams meet on Wednesday night, it will be the 31st time these two programs have squared off. Tusculum holds the series edge, as they've taken 15 meetings to C-N's 12. The Eagles did get the best of the Pioneers last year, as tallies from Read and Rurik Pereira led them to a 2-1 triumph. The series has been evenly matched recently, as the last six matches between these teams have ended in two wins for Carson-Newman, two wins for Tusculum and two ties.
Be sure to check out the live broadcast of the match, which will be available on cneagles.com/live, along with live stats. Mark Inserra will be behind the microphone for all 90 minutes and, after the match has ended, cneagles.com will have a full rundown of all the action.