ELON, N.C. – Chris Thomas scored his eighth game-winner of the season to give top-seeded Elon a 2-1 win over upset-minded eighth-seeded Davidson in the opening round of the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Championship Tournament on Saturday night, Nov. 3. The Phoenix (13-4-2) advance to the semifinals next Thursday to play the winner between fourth–seeded Georgia Southern and fifth-seeded UNCG.
Thomas became the all-time leader in points for Elon with his nation-leading 22nd goal of the season and helped the Phoenix overcome its 1-0 first-half deficit over the Wildcats (6-11-1). Thomas broke Mike Wessels (1985-88) record of 113 points as the Snellville, Ga., native currently has 114 points for his career.
Davidson started fast with a goal less than two minutes into the match by Alex Givens. Givens scored within the box after receiving a pass from the left side of the box from Brian McGue with the Wildcats looking to avenge an earlier season loss to Elon on their home pitch.
The Phoenix was able to overcome that mistake in the opening minutes to settle down defensively, but could not convert on the equalizer in the opening stanza. Both teams controlled the ball equally throughout the first period with Davidson holding a slight advantage on shots, 5-3.
In the final period, the Phoenix came out as the more aggressive team with five shots in first 20 minutes. With the home crowd behind them, Elon was finally able to gain momentum and was rewarded with Gabe Latigue adding the equalizer in the 64th minute. Latigue was able to sail the ball over keeper Matt Pacifici’s head from 18-20 yards out to give him his fourth goal of the season.
Elon continued to push forward and control possession of the ball for the majority of the second period before Thomas’ go-ahead score in the 75th minute. Thomas was able to play a well placed cross from Latigue to beat Pacifici within the box.
The maroon and gold would hang on to win and advance to the semifinals for the second straight season. Elon trailed in corners, 3-0, in the second half, but outshot the Wildcats 12-4 in the final 45 minutes.
Pacifici had three saves in the loss while Elon keeper Nathan Dean corralled four. The Phoenix extended its current unbeaten streak to five matches, second longest of the season.
The semifinals and the finals of the SoCon Championships will be held in Cary, N.C. beginning on Thursday, Nov. 8. Elon and the winner between Georgia Southern/UNCG will battle in the first semifinal game at 5 p.m.