Men’s Soccer: No. 23 Elon Battles Duke to Scoreless Draw; Wins SoCon Title

ELON, N.C – In its final regular season home match, the Elon men’s soccer team battled Duke to a scoreless draw on Tuesday night, Oct. 30, at Rudd Field. The 23rd-ranked Phoenix clinched the Southern Conference regular season championship tonight and earned the top seed in the upcoming SoCon Tournament after College of Charleston and Wofford went to a scoreless draw this evening. The top-seeded Phoenix hosts eighth-seeded Davidson on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m.

Elon wrapped up the 2012 regular season campaign with a 12-4-2 overall record and 5-2 mark in the SoCon to earn its second regular season championship since beginning Division I play in 1999. It was also the third consecutive draw against the Blue Devils (7-7-2) and extends the Phoenix’s unbeaten streak against ACC schools to five.

Duke controlled possession of the ball in the early portions of the match, but could only muster one shot on goal against the maroon and gold back four defense in the entire first half. Elon’s Jordan Smith had two header opportunities in the opening stanza, but keeper James Belshaw corralled both.

The start of the second half was more of the same as the Blue Devils started to maneuver through the Phoenix defense to fire three shots in a five-minute stretch. The closest that Duke got to breaking the scoreless drought came on a shot from Zach Mathers that hit the top of the crossbar in the 54th minute.

Elon could not get a clean shot on goal for the rest of the half as attempts by Gabe Latigue in the 70th and 80th minute were blocked or saved by Belshaw. Both teams would go into extra time at 0-0.

Both squads had only one shot in the first extra session with junior Matt Wescoe missing just left of the post in the Phoenix’s lone attempt. Elon would then go into a second overtime for the second consecutive game.

Neither team could find a shot in the final period and would eventually lead to the second tie of the season for both schools.

The Blue Devils held a slight 8-7 advantage on shots overall and prevented Elon from a corner kick. Belshaw had three saves for Duke.

Elon keeper Nathan Dean, who was named the SoCon Player of the Week earlier in the day, added his sixth shutout of the year, tied for third most in a single-season. The Liverpool, England, native corralled the ball twice for the Phoenix.

Elon is set to defend its 2011 SoCon Tournament title at home beginning on Saturday versus eighth-seeded Davidson at Rudd Field.