ELON, N.C. – Behind a second half goal from junior James Brace, the Elon University men’s soccer team earned a 1-0 victory over West Virginia on Sunday night, Sept. 14, at Rudd Field.
The Phoenix (3-2-1) earned its first win at home this season and posted its fourth shutout of the year with its victory over the Mountaineers (3-3). The clean sheet was the 20th in the career of senior goalkeeper Nathan Dean, moving him into sole possession of second-place all-time in school history.
West Virginia was the more aggressive team at the beginning of the match with a couple of shots by Jamie Merriam in the first seven minutes. Merriam’s first strike went wide, but Dean corralled his second attempt off a Mountaineer corner.
Elon returned the favor in the 14th and 15th minute with shots by both Taylor Adler and Eduardo Alvarez, respectively. Only Alvarez’s was on frame, but WVU’s goalkeeper Lee Johnston denied it. Cauê Da Silva followed with another try in the 17th minute, but the ball sailed wide of his target.
WVU would get another shot on goal in the in the 36th minute as Mountaineers’ leading scorer Andy Bevin tried to sneak an attempt past Dean, but the Liverpool, England, native was there again to corral the ball.
Both teams went into the half scoreless, but had a number of chances in the opening stanza. The Phoenix had a 7-6 shot advantage, but only one on goal compared to two for the Mountaineers. WVU also had a slight 2-1 advantage over Elon in corners from the first period.
In the 59th minute, Elon almost scored its first goal off a series of corners. Junior Nathan Diehl headed a shot off the Elon set piece, but Johnston was there again for the save. The Phoenix could not get another clean shot off the remaining set pieces giving the ball back to the Mountaineers.
Elon finally cashed in with its first goal in the 67th minute with Brace providing scoring punch. The Phoenix’s Rett Webb drilled a shot into Johnston from the left of the box, but the keeper was unable to grab in cleanly as the carom found the foot of Brace. The Hartlepool, England, native drilled his second score of the year to give the Phoenix a 1-0 lead.
From then on, the Phoenix buckled down defensively and locked up the Mountaineers from making a real threat for the remainder of the match. WVU’s Bevin had one more attempt in the 87th minute as the Mountaineers pushed numbers up forward, but Dean made the stop once more with Elon eventually hanging on with the 1-0 win.
Dean played all 90 minutes between the posts and had five saves to his credit. The Phoenix overall had 16 shots to West Virginia’s 12 and slightly trailed in corners, 6-5.
The maroon and gold will have a long break this week before traveling to Radford to take on the Highlanders on Saturday, Sept. 20. That match is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start.