ELON, N.C. – For the first time in 2016, the Elon University men’s soccer team will face a ranked opponent as the Phoenix heads to 24th-ranked Radford for the third game of a current four-match road trip on Saturday, Sept. 17. The match is slated for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Patrick D. Cupp Memorial Stadium.
Fans can follow the Phoenix on Saturday with updates on Twitter from the program’s handle @ElonMensSoccer. Other score updates will also be provided at the handle @elonscores as well as live stats from the men’s soccer home page. The match will be streamed online via the Big South Network.
Former opponents of the Big South Conference, Elon and Radford are meeting for the 20th time on the soccer pitch on Saturday in a series dating back to 1998. The Highlanders hold a 10-6-3 advantage all-time over the maroon and gold including a victory in the most recent contest last season in Elon where the Phoenix suffered its lone home defeat with a 2-0 setback. Elon’s last win over Radford came in 2013 with a 1-0 victory at home.
NC State Recap
Elon earned a 2-0 victory at in-state and Atlantic Coast Conference foe NC State on Tuesday, Sept. 13. First half goals from Elijah Agu and Austin Hill helped the Phoenix to its first regular season win over the Wolfpack since 2000. Agu’s goal was his sixth of the year while the rookie Hill connected on his third goal of the season as Elon improved its record to 7-4-4 versus ACC opponents since 2010.
Elon Receiving Votes in NSCAA Poll
For the third time this season, Elon was receiving votes in the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Top 25 poll on Tuesday, Sept 13. The Phoenix earned 11 points in the poll, one of four Colonial Athletic Association schools that were also receiving votes behind UNCW (43), Delaware (39) and William & Mary (20).
Making Their Mark
Elon welcomed 16 newcomers to its roster for 2016 with 11 of them seeing playing time on the pitch so far this season. Including redshirt freshman, 13 total players are seeing the field for the first time in an Elon uniform. Two newcomers, defender Luke Matthews and Marcel Fahrenholz, have started every game this season while three others – Hill, Jack Willbye and Tuki Tayali – have played over 100 minutes off the bench. Hill and Tayali are second and third on the squad in total points, respectively, while Matthews is seventh. Fahrenholz and Willbye are first and second on the team in assists with three and two, respectively.
Get by with a Little Help from my Friends
The Phoenix has accounted for 15 assists this season which is the best in the CAA. Nine different players have tallied at least one assist this season with five accounting for two or more. Fahrenholz is second in the league in assists with three while Willbye, Jaiden Fortune and Nick Adamczyk also rank in the league’s top-five with two.
Versus Ranked Competition
Since entering Division I play in 1999, Elon has posted a 12-32-4 mark against ranked opponents. However, since 2012 the Phoenix has posted a 9-7-1 ledger against top-25 teams. Last season, Elon was 2-2 versus ranked teams including victories on the road at No. 7 Wake Forest and at No. 24 UNCW.
The Phoenix carries a four-game unbeaten streak into Saturday’s match. Since suffering its first loss of the season versus San Diego on Aug. 28, at the John Rennie Nike Invitational, Elon has posted wins versus St. Bonaventure, Detroit Mercy, drawn at College of Charleston before winning at NC State on Tuesday.
Despite being outshot in a match for the first time this season at the Wolfpack, Elon is still one of the top offensive threats in both the CAA and the country. Nationally, Elon was ranked 10th in scoring offense (2.50), seventh shots per game (17.00) and eighth in total points (45). The Phoenix’s is currently first in the CAA in goals (15), points, assists (15) and shots (102).
Agu’s 13 points is second in the CAA with his league-best six goals and three game-winning scores, which is tied for first in the nation. The Cary, N.C., native has taken advantage of more playing time this season scoring in three of his six matches this year. Hill is tied for sixth in the league with his three goals and has a blistering .500 shot percentage with .667 percent coming on goal.
Defensively, Elon posted its third shutout of the season at the Wolfpack. The Phoenix has only allowed four goals this season while opponents to only 8.3 shots per game. Keeper Matthew Jegier picked up his 11th career shutout Tuesday, moving him into the top-five all-time in school history.
Coming off earning a trip to the NCAA Tournament last season, the Highlanders have been on a great start this season with a 4-1 record. Rising as high as No. 18 in the NSCAA rankings, Radford fell at Old Dominion, 1-0, last Sunday, Sept. 11, and dropped to No. 24 in the most recent NSCAA national poll.
As a team, Radford has accounted for eight goals this season with Sivert Daehlie and Neil Martorana being tied for the team-lead with two each. Both players have five points on the season along with Jakob Strandsater, who has a team-best three assists.
Defensively, the Highlanders have yielded three goals this season with opponents attempting less than nine shots per match. Aitor Pouseu Blanco has seen the most time in goal this season and has three shutouts with 12 saves and a 0.50 GAA.
Elon concludes its four-match road trip on Saturday, Sept. 24, with its first-ever CAA match at James Madison. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.