Elon Men’s Soccer Defeats Winthrop to Open UNC Wilmington Tournament, 1-0

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A penalty kick goal by junior James Brace in the opening stanza was the difference as the Elon University men’s soccer team earned a 1-0 victory over Winthrop on Friday, Sept. 5, to open the UNC Wilmington Courtyard Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach Classic.

The Phoenix (2-1) posted its second consecutive shut out and the 18th career clean sheet for senior goalkeeper Nathan Dean. The Liverpool, England, native is now one shut out shy of tying Kip Rackley (1984-87) for second all-time in school history in career clean sheets.

Both squads spent the opening minutes of the match feeling each other out, but Winthrop was able to earn a couple of corner kicks in the first 10 minutes. The Eagles (2-1) could not get off a clean shot from either set piece as the maroon and gold defense stood strong.

Elon manufactured the lone goal of the match in the eighth minute of action. Cauê Da Silva played a long cross down the left side of the field and beat his defender into the box where he was fouled. Brace calmly drilled the penalty kick for his first score of the year and gave the maroon and gold a 1-0 lead.

Less than a minute later, Brace almost sent in his second goal of the contest on a header try off a ball sent in the box by Myles Mansfield. The attempt went wide right however keeping the score at 1-0.

In the 23rd minute, Elon earned its first corners of the match. After Winthrop knocked the first try out of bounds, Elon had another chance to add its second goal off a set piece, but the Winthrop keeper stopped a header attempt by Nathan Diehl.

Both teams played evenly in the opening period in terms of scoring opportunities with six shots apiece. Elon however had five of those tries on frame compared to zero for the Eagles. Winthrop had more corner attempts that the Phoenix with a 7-2 advantage in the first half, but could not convert a clean look on any of the set pieces.

Dean and the Phoenix backline defense of Austin Dunker, Samuel McBride, Diehl and Jonathan Coleby were put on its heels nearly 10 minutes into the second half. Winthrop was awarded four consecutive corner kicks from the 54th minute to the 56th minute, but was only able to get one shot off.

During the 64th minute, Elon attempted to go up 2-0 with Brace racing down the middle of the pitch drawing defenders. Senior forward Jason Waterman was streaking on the right side and Brace found with a through ball, but the shot went high of the goal.

The Phoenix would withstand a little pressure late in the match, but would hold on for a 1-0 victory. Both teams had 11 shots for the match, but Elon had eight on goal compared to just one for the Eagles. Winthrop dominated in corners, 14-3, over the maroon and gold. Dean played all 90 minutes between the posts and had one save.

Elon will close out the tournament on Sunday, Sept. 7, with a afternoon match versus Ohio State. That game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff.