ELON, N.C. – The Elon men’s soccer team kicks off its 2013 season on Saturday, Aug. 17, with an exhibition match versus fourth-ranked North Carolina at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C. Admission charge is $5 with all proceeds going to the Greensboro United Soccer Foundation.
The Phoenix returns 20 players from its 2012 NCAA Tournament team. Elon went 15-5-2, including 4-1 against ranked competition and entered the national polls for the first time since 2006. The maroon and gold captured its second consecutive Southern Conference Tournament title with a 2-1 victory over Wofford to sweep both the league’s regular-season and tournament crowns for the first time in the same season.
Head coach Darren Powell returns for his ninth season at the helm of the Elon men’s soccer program and is second all-time in wins at the school with 79. He was rewarded with his third SoCon Coach of the Year honor last season and returns nine starters to his squad in 2013.
Among the notable returnees are senior midfielders Matt Wescoe and Daniel Lovitz. Wescoe is the leading returning scorer for the Phoenix with 19 points after tallying six goals and a team-best seven assists in 2012, earning second-team All-SoCon honors. Lovitz scored three goals with two assists last season and was an All-South Region selection. Both Lovitz and Wescoe were named to the SoCon All-Tournament team.
Keeper Nathan Dean led the league with 84 saves in 2012, solidifying a Phoenix backline that posted seven shutouts in 2012, including three against ranked opponents.
Scouting the Tar Heels
The Tar Heels enter 2013 ranked fourth in the nation in the NSCAA/Continental Tire preseason polls after coming off a 16-4-3 season in 2012 and making it to the NCAA Tournament. UNC has reached the College Cup in four out of the last five seasons, but fell short last season to eventual NCAA champion Indiana.
Head coach Carlos Somoano is heading into his third season at North Carolina after posting a record of 37-6-6 in his first two years. Senior forward Andy Craven paced the team in scoring last season with 17 points on his six goals and five assists.
Next Up for Elon
Elon travels to Columbia, S.C., next week for its final exhibition of the season with a match versus South Carolina on Saturday, Aug. 24. The Phoenix opens the 2013 regular-season on Friday, Aug 30, versus Northeastern at the Duke Classic in Durham, N.C.