NEWARK, Del. – A first-half goal from senior James Brace and a season-high six saves from Matthew Jegier helped the eighth-ranked Elon University men’s soccer team to a 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association road win at Delaware on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Grant Stadium.
The Phoenix (8-1, 2-0 CAA) rebounded from suffering its first setback of the season at South Carolina on Tuesday, Sept. 22, with its sixth shutout of the year over the Blue Hens (3-5-1, 0-1 CAA), who was tabbed as the league’s preseason favorite for 2015.
“Anytime you can come and get a win against a really, really good side like Delaware is fantastic for us,” said Elon head coach Chris Little. “They have some very good attacking players going forward and to get a clean sheet in that game and to get a win was remarkable and I was really delighted for the players.”
Brace scored his third goal of the year in the 17th minute to put the Phoenix on the scoreboard first. The Hartlepool, England, native played a ball off the back heel of Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler from about 18 yards away and hit the bottom corner of the net to put the Phoenix ahead 1-0.
Nearly a minute later, Elon almost went up 2-0 after Caue Da Silva found himself alone versus the keeper on the left wing on a breakaway. The senior however saw his attempt go too high and gave the ball back to the Blue Hens.
The Phoenix went into the half with trailing Delaware in the majority of the offensive categories. Elon trailed the Blue Hens slightly in shots, 7-6, and in corners, 3-2. Both teams also combined for eight fouls in the opening stanza.
Delaware turned up the offensive pressure early in the second half earning three consecutive corner kicks in the 50th minute, but was unable to connect on the set piece. The Phoenix tried to counter quickly off the final corner kick opportunity as Da Sliva race towards the other end of the field on a breakaway, but his try from the right wing went high.
Elon was on the cusp of giving itself a 2-0 advantage in the 56th minute. Luis Argudo fired a shot that was saved on a diving stop by the Blue Hens’ keeper, but the carom found Will Smith, who almost headed in his first career goal, but Delaware’s Todd Morton, who had five saves in between the posts, was there again for the stop.
The equalizer was nearly found in the 74th minute as a cross by the Blue Hens from the left wing went into the box causing some frantic moments. The ball dangerously edged the line as Jegier and the Phoenix defense worked tirelessly to clear the ball before offsides was called.
Delaware had one more shot on target attempt in the 87th minute, but Jegier made the stop and Elon pulled out with a 1-0 win.
• Elon won the overall shot battle, 14-13, while both squads had six shots on target. Both teams entered the match as the top-two teams in shots in the league.
• Delaware had more than twice the corners than Elon at 8-3.
• Elon was whistled for 11 fouls compared to nine on the Blue Hens while Elijah Agu was issued the match’s only yellow in the 81st minute.
• The clean sheet was the sixth of the year for Jegier and the Phoenix, tied for fifth-best in a single season in program history.
• Vandermaas-Peeler and Da Silva each had the assist on Brace’s goal, with Vandermaas-Peeler tying Jaiden Fortune for the team-lead with three.
Elon closes out its three-match road trip with a visit to Williamsburg, Va., for a match versus William & Mary on Wednesday, Sept. 30. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.