CARY, N.C. – Top-seeded Elon (13-4-2) will play fourth-seeded Georgia Southern (6-11-1) in the quarterfinals of the Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Tournament Championship on Thursday, Nov. 8, in Cary, N.C. Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m. at the WakeMed Soccer Park as the 23rd-ranked Phoenix look to advance to the championship game for the second consecutive season.
Elon will be sponsoring a trip to the game, including transportation and a game ticket for students. Sign-up is available until Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Student Activities Office in the Moseley Center. Buses will leave from Boney Fountain at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. A $5 deposit is required which will be returned upon arrival to the bus.
Elon and Georgia Southern are meeting for the 11th time in a series between the two schools that dates back to 2003. The Phoenix holds a 7-3 advantage over the Eagles, which includes a 4-3 double-overtime victory at Statesboro, Ga., on Oct. 12 earlier this season.
This is the second time that the two schools have met in the SoCon Tournament after meeting in last year’s quarterfinals. Elon won that match, 1-0, with Gabe Latigue scoring the lone goal. Phoenix head coach Darren Powell has a 6-2 career record against the Eagles while at the helm of the men’s soccer program at Elon.
Scouting the Phoenix
Elon will look to extend its current five-match unbeaten streak against the Eagles after defeating eighth-seeded Davidson, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the SoCon Tournament last Saturday, Nov. 3, at Rudd Field. The Phoenix rallied from a 1-0 first-half deficit to earn its 13th win of the season against the Wildcats, the most for the program since entering Division I play in 1999.
Latigue and Chris Thomas both scored in the second half against Davidson in the 64th and 75th minute respectively. Latigue has now scored a goal in three of the past four matches in the SoCon Tournament after adding the equalizer before Thomas contributed with his 22nd score on the season which proved to be game-winner, his eighth of the 2012 campaign.
Thomas became the program’s leader for total points with 114 in that match, breaking Mike Wessels’ 24-year record of 113. Thomas leads the nation with 49 total points on the year, a single-season record for the maroon and gold.
Junior Matt Wescoe was named to the Capital One Academic All-District first team on Thursday as selected by the College of Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Wescoe is second on the squad in points (16) and goals (five) and is tied for the team-lead in assists (six). He scored the golden goal in the Phoenix’s double overtime win at Georgia Southern with a header in the 107th minute.
Sophomore Nathan Dean has logged every minute between the posts for the maroon and gold this season. The Liverpool, England, native has posted a 1.35 GAA to go along with 74 saves and six shutouts, tied for third-most in a single-season.
Elon in the SoCon Tournament
The Phoenix enters the semifinals for the second straight season and sixth overall in program history. Elon has an even 8-8 record in the tournament since entering league in 2003. Last season as the sixth seed, the maroon and gold captured its first tournament title after defeating top-seeded UNCG, 3-2, in the championship game and earning the program’s first ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.
On Tuesday, Powell and five members of the team earned All-SoCon honors with Thomas being named the league’s Player of the Year for the second time. Powell was voted the top coach of the conference for a third time in his eight years at Elon. Thomas made the league’s first team with Latigue and Wescoe garnering second team recognition. Rookies Samuel McBride and Miguel Salazar earned a spot on the all-freshman team.
Scouting the Eagles
Georgia Southern advanced to the semifinals after defeating fifth-seeded UNCG 2-1 in double overtime on Sunday, Nov. 4, in Statesboro, Ga. The Eagles enter the match winners in four out of their last five matches, including two straight.
Ten players have found the back of the net for Georgia Southern this season. Reed Norton paces the Eagles’ offensive attack with his team-high of five goals and 13 points. Drew Ruggles has dished out a team-high of four assists on the year for GSU.
In goal, Neal Bates and Jack Falle have nearly split time between the posts for the Eagles. The pair has combined for 1.93 GAA and corralled 94 saves for Georgia Southern while contributing with three shutouts.
The winner will advance to play on Saturday, Nov. 10, for the SoCon championship match at 7 p.m. That game will be televised on ESPN3.