ELON, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team opened the 2012 season with a 4-2 road win over Elon on Saturday night in Elon, N.C. Four different players scored for HPU in the two-goal win led by sophomore Leon Carby who had a goal and an assist.
“I am really proud of the way this team came in to a hostile environment and was able to pick up a win,” head coach Dustin Fonder said. “There was a great crowd here tonight and I was very happy with how our guys responded. I think that the fact that we were able to score four goals against a very tough Elon team says a lot about this group of players and our ability moving forward.”
Elon took the first lead of the game in the 18th minute with a header goal against the run of play by Chris Thomas. The Phoenix had been held primarily in their own half when they broke out on a counter. Charles Howard lofted a ball into the box from the left side where Thomas ran in headed it just inside the left post to make the score 1-0.
The Panthers answered back in the 25th minute when freshman Adam Storm scored his first collegiate goal off a pass from senior Shawn Sloan. Austin Yearwood drew a foul on the left flank about 20-yards from goal and Sloan hit the resulting free kick to the far post. Storm got his foot on the ball in the middle of a scrum of players and hit it into the back of the net to tie the game.
Just 36 seconds later the Panthers struck again as junior Adam Sewell connected on a header to put HPU up 2-1. A yellow card by Howard gave High Point a free kick on the right side of the field just outside the penalty area. Yearwood took the kick and hit a high ball to the center of the box where Sewell beat his defender and hit a thundering header past the keeper.
Freshman Ben Burdon added to the lead with High Point’s third goal of the half in the 34th minute when he converted from 15-yards out for his first collegiate score. Carby set Burdon loose with a through ball out of the midfield and the freshman ran onto the pass and beat a defender before hitting his shot inside the right post.
Elon came out looking to control the game at the start of the second half and got a goal back in the 54th minute when HPU keeper Kody Palmer got caught off his line. The Phoenix earned a throw deep in HPU territory and Thomas flicked the ball on with his head to the left post where Elon’s Daniel Lovitz made a late run and scored.
Following the Phoenix goal play continued to flow back and forth but until the 66th minute when the Panthers pushed their lead back to two on a line drive shot from Carby from 20-yards out. Redshirt-senior Ryan Bennett hit a square ball to Carby in the middle of the field and the sophomore took two touches before unleashing a low line drive. The shot took a deflection in the air which wrong-footed the keeper as the ball sailed inside the left post to make the score 4-2.
Elon continued to press looking to get back in the game but it was the Panthers that earned the better chances late on the way to sealing the season-opening win.
Freshman contributions played a big role in the game for High Point as Burdon and Storm both scored, Yearwood picked up an assist and Palmer made five saves on the way to his first collegiate win.
High Point took 10 shots in the game, putting seven on frame. Six different Panthers took a shot on the night led by Burdon who finished with three with two on target.
HPU next returns home as it prepares to host the Flash Gordon Invitational beginning on Friday, Aug. 31. The Panthers will welcome Adelphi, Northern Kentucky and Radford to Vert Stadium for the Tournament. High Point will face Adelphi on Aug. 31 and Northern Kentucky on Sept. 2.