MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Elon’s Chris Thomas became the program’s single-season and all-time goal scorer, but it was his assist on Matt Wescoe’s game-winning score in the 89th minute that made the difference as the Phoenix men’s soccer team defeated West Virginia, 3-2, Tuesday night at Dick Dlesk Stadium.
Elon (7-2-1, 1-0 Southern Conference) won its second straight match and has an unbeaten streak in eight of its last nine games.
“It was very exciting to see the character of the boys to play to the final whistle,” said head coach Darren Powell. “Obviously getting two goals in the final minutes make it very exciting for the whole team.”
The Phoenix managed to rally back from a 2-1 deficit with two goals in the final three minutes of action mostly involving the duo of Thomas and Wescoe.
Thomas scored his 44th career goal in the match moving him past Mike Wessels’ all-time mark with a goal in the 59th minute on Gabe Latigue helper to tie the game at 1-1. The score was also Thomas’s 14th of the season, giving him the Elon record for goals in a single-season.
Thomas was not done as the senior forward added his second score of the contest on a header in the 86th minute, providing the equalizer as the Phoenix tied the game again at 2-2. Thomas received the ball on a cross from Wescoe who then proceeded to beat the keeper to the ball.
Just three minutes later, the roles of were reversed as Thomas found Wescoe sprinting down the middle of the box and the junior midfielder was able to place to ball just over the goalie for the game-winner. The goal is Wescoe’s first of the season and Thomas’ third assist on the year.
West Virginia struck first on a header from Eric Schoenle in the 55th minute to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 advantage. WVU added its second score of the contest in the 72nd minute on a bending shot from 18 yards by Jamie Merriam that gave the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead.
Thomas was able to tie it on a breakaway past the West Virginia defender for his sixth two-goal game of the season before finding Wescoe for the game-winner with 30 seconds left to play.
Nathan Dean had a career-high eight saves for the maroon and gold as he played all 90 minutes between the posts.
The win improves the Phoenix non-conference record to 6-2-1 on the year. Elon also snaps the Mountaineers six-match unbeaten streak.
“It’s very important for the team to focus on one game at a time,” Powell added. “That’s what we have been telling them all year. We just have been preparing ourselves correctly and now our focus shifts to the Southern Conference and a very talented opposition in Furman University.”
Elon returns to the pitch at home on Saturday for a SoCon match versus Furman at Rudd Field. The program will be celebrating its 40th anniversary with kickoff slated to begin at 7 p.m.