ELON, N.C – Top-seeded Elon will look to capture its second straight Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament Championship, as the 23rd-ranked Phoenix opens league quarterfinal play hosting eighth-seeded Davidson on Saturday, Nov. 3, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. at Rudd Field.
Elon and Davidson are meeting for the 11th time overall in a series that dates back to 2003. This is also the first ever meeting between the two schools in the SoCon tournament. The Phoenix leads the all-time series 8-2 over the Wildcats, including a 2-0 victory at Davidson earlier this season. Chris Thomas scored a pair of goals in that match, which tied him for the most in school history.
Scouting the Phoenix
Elon enters the tournament on a four-match unbeaten streak after battling Duke to a scoreless draw on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in its regular-season finale. The Phoenix was able to clinch its second SoCon regular-season title after posting a 12-4-2 overall record and a 5-2 mark in league play. The 12 wins are the most for the program since entering Division I play in 1999 and the highest in a season since 1988.
Thomas has been a mainstay of the Phoenix’s offense this season with 21 goals and 47 total points, leading the nation in both categories. He is a point shy from tying Mike Wessels’ (1985-88) program record of 113 total points in a career. Thomas has also been clutch for the maroon and gold this season with seven game-winning goals and converting 7-of-8 penalty kicks. He also has five assists on the season, tied for second on the squad behind Matt Wescoe’s team-high of six.
Keeper Nathan Dean and the Phoenix’s backline defense of Mark Berlin, Nick Butterly, Austin Dunker and Samuel McBride have performed very well in recent weeks with three shutouts in its past four matches. In that span of nearly 400 minutes of action, the Phoenix has only allowed one goal. Dean was rewarded for his efforts this week by being named to the College Soccer News National Team of the Week on Monday and earning his first SoCon weekly honor on Tuesday.
Powell is in his eighth season at the helm of the Elon men’s soccer program and has compiled an overall record of 76-62-20 at the school.
Elon in the SoCon Championships
This is the second time that Elon enters the league’s postseason tournament as the No. 1 seed in its nine overall appearances. The Phoenix has posted a record of 7-8 in the SoCon championships since entering the league in 2003. Last season as the sixth seed, the maroon and gold captured its first tournament title after defeating No. 1 seed UNCG, 3-2, in the championship game and earning the program’s first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. Under head coach Darren Powell, the Phoenix is 5-2 in opening round matches of the SoCon tournament.
The Wildcats earned the No. 8 seed after losing at Appalachian State, 2-0, on Saturday, Oct. 27. Davidson finished the season with a 6-10-1 overall mark and a 2-5 record in SoCon play. The Wildcats last win came against Wofford on Oct. 13, in a 3-2 victory.
Andrew Dilallo and Peter Paras both pace the Wildcats offensive attack with nine total points while Dilallo and Valeriy Sviderskiy are tied for the team-lead with four goals. On the defensive front, keeper Matt Pacifici has a league-high 72 saves on the year.
Elon versus Davidson is one of three quarterfinal matches beginning on Saturday with first-round action wrapping up Sunday. The semifinals and championship will be played at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., on Nov. 8 and 10, respectively, with the championship game being broadcast on ESPN3.