WILMINGTON, N.C. – A goal at the 64th minute by senior James Brace lifted the 11th-ranked Elon University men’s soccer team to a 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association road win at No. 24 UNCW on Wednesday night, Oct. 14, at the UNCW Soccer Stadium.
Elon (11-2, 4-1 CAA) earned its third straight victory overall while continuing to strengthen its place in the league standings. The win was also the third straight overall versus the Seahawks, who fell to 7-3-2 and 2-2-1 in the CAA.
“It’s always tough to play against top 25 teams especially when you play them away,” said senior Miguel Salazar. “For us to come here and get the win was huge for our overall record, our RPI and in the CAA as well. We all stuck together and pulled out the win.”
UNCW was the more aggressive team at the beginning of the match earning a corner at the fifth minute and followed with a shot by the Seahawks’ Ben Fisher that went high. The Seahawks had two more shots in the first 10 minutes, which were both corralled by keeper Matthew Jegier.
Elon got its first shot on goal in the 26th minute as Jaiden Fortune maneuvered a shot, but it was stopped by the UNCW netminder. The Phoenix’s best chance on a goal in the opening period came on a Nathan Diehl header attempt at the 32nd minute, but the keeper also was able to corral the ball.
Both teams went into the break knotted in shots (6-6), shots on goal (3-3) and saves (3-3). The Phoenix was whistled for one more foul in the opening stanza, 8-7, than the Seahawks.
The Phoenix got on the scoreboard first at the 55th minute. UNCW was called for a handball inside the box and gave Elon a penalty kick opportunity. Eduardo Alvarez converted for his fifth goal of the year to give the Phoenix a 1-0 lead.
Just over a minute later, UNCW found the equalizer on a goal by Joel Bylander. Bylander scored on a one-timer from 15 yards to tie the match at 1-1.
Brace and the Phoenix retook the lead for good at the 64th minute. The Hartlepool, England, native netted his fifth score and third game-winner of the year off a cross by Caue Da Silva from the right wing that put Elon back in front 2-1 over the Seahawks.
Elon held the Seahawks to only one shot the remainder of the match before earning the 2-1 win to close out the game.
• Brace’s goal was the 21st in his career moving him into the top-10 on the program’s all-time career list.
• Head coach Chris Little earned his 20th win as the Phoenix’s head coach. That mark ties him for the most in program history for a coach in his first two seasons along with Rob Brewer (1988-95).
• Alvarez and Brace are still tied for the team-lead in goals with five each. Brace now paces the squad with 13 overall points after scoring his third goal in his last five games.
• Jegier ended the match with his three saves in net. His counterpart, Sean Melvin, also had three saves for the Seahawks.
• This is the Phoenix’s second win of the year versus a ranked opponent. Elon also earned a 1-0 victory at then No. 7 Wake Forest earlier in the year.
Elon hosts its Homecoming match this Saturday, Oct. 17, versus James Madison at Rudd Field. That match is scheduled for a 8 p.m. kickoff.