CONWAY, S.C. – The 16th-ranked Elon men’s soccer team will travel to 13th-ranked Coastal Carolina to play the Chanticleers in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 15, in a rematch of last season’s first round matchup in the national tournament. The Phoenix (15-4-2) and the Chanticleers (18-2-2) are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff at the Coastal Carolina University Soccer Field.
About the Series
Elon and Coastal Carolina are meeting for the 13th time in the series and the fourth time in the past two seasons. In a series dating to 1997, the Chanticleers hold a 9-1-2 advantage over the Phoenix all-time. The two teams met earlier this season, with the Phoenix losing a close contest to the then 21st-ranked Chanticleers, 2-1, in Conway, S.C.
The programs also met in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament with Coastal Carolina defeating Elon, 4-3. The Phoenix battled back from down a goal three times in its first-ever appearance in the NCAAs before giving way to the Chanticleers.
Elon is coming off of winning its second consecutive Southern Conference tournament title to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The win gave the Phoenix the SoCon’s outright regular-season title and the tournament title for the first time in program history.
The Phoenix currently has a season-long seven-match unbeaten streak after defeating Wofford, 2-1, in the SoCon tournament final on Saturday, Nov. 10. Since taking on Coastal Carolina on Sept. 14, the Phoenix has posted a record 12-4-2 in its remaining games, including a perfect 4-0 record against nationally ranked opponents. Elon’s 15 wins this year is the most by the team since entering Division I play in 1999 and one shy of the school record set by the 1987 team.
Senior forward Chris Thomas headlines the Phoenix offensive output with a nation-leading 23 goals and 51 points. The SoCon Player of the Year scored two of the team’s three goals in last season’s NCAA first round contest versus the Chanticleers and has seven multi-goal games on the year.
Gabe Latigue scored the game-winner for the Phoenix in the SoCon championship against the Terriers and was named the SoCon tournament’s most outstanding player. The Apex, N.C., native scored a goal in two of the three matches in last week’s league championship and was named to the all-tournament team. He also received recognition from Topdrawersoccer.com, earning a place on its National Team of the Week on Monday, Nov. 12.
Matt Wescoe scored the first goal in the match against Wofford and is second on the squad with six goals and has a team-leading seven assists. He also earned all tournament team honors as did Thomas and Daniel Lovitz.
Keeper Nathan Dean has played every minute between the posts for the Phoenix this season and has posted seven shutouts, third all-time for a single season at Elon. The Liverpool, England, native has corralled 79 saves with a 1.28 GAA in 21 matches.
Phoenix head coach Darren Powell is in his eighth year at the helm of the Elon men’s soccer program with a record of 79-62-20. He won his third SoCon Coach of the Year award this season while leading the Phoenix to it highest national ranking ever at No. 16 in the country.
Scouting Coastal Carolina
The Chanticleers received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after being upset by Winthrop, 3-2, in the Big South Championship game on Sunday, Nov. 11. This is Coastal Carolina’s 10th berth to the NCAA and eight overall under head coach Shaun Docking.
Ashton Bennett and Ricky Garbanzo pace Coastal Carolina on the offensive side of the ball with 15 and 13 goals respectively. Pedro Ribeiro has dished out a team-high 10 assists for the Chanticleers who have seen 13 players find the back of the net this season.
Federico Bertele has allowed only 14 goals between the posts all season for Coastal Carolina and has 47 saves on the season.
The winner of the match between the Phoenix and the Chanticleers will advance to the second round of the NCAA for a match at Wake Forest on Sunday, Nov. 18.