Elon Women’s Soccer Begins CAA Slate Hosting Towson and James Madison

ELON, N.C. – The Elon women’s soccer team opens up CAA play at Rudd Field this weekend against Towson on Friday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 1 p.m. against James Madison. The Phoenix hosts Latin Night at Rudd Field on Friday night against Towson to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Friday is Latin Night at Rudd Field to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. National Hispanic Heritage Month will be celebrated with a Latin themed match, which will include Latin music, samples of some authentic Hispanic foods at the tables set up near the stands, as well as PA announcers speaking Spanish.

You can watch both matches on Phoenix All-Access. John Roddey and Jennifer Berman will have the call from Rudd Field. Updates on the Phoenix’s matches against the Tigers and the Dukes will be provided on Twitter at the handle @elonscores or the program’s handle,@ElonWSoccer.

Between the two opponents this weekend, Elon has played the Tigers and the Dukes a combined total of four times. The Phoenix has played both teams only since joining the Colonial Athletic Association two years ago. Elon trails 0-2 in the all-time series against both opponents. This will be the first time that the Phoenix has faced James Madison and Towson at home.

Elon has started the season off with a 4-4-1 record against a challenging schedule, which included three teams ranked in the top-three of their league’s preseason poll (High Point, UNCG and Coastal Carolina) and one top-10 nationally ranked opponent (#8 Clemson). Nine different players have scored for the Phoenix so far this season. Tori Baliatico, Erin Tanhauserand Sydney Schilling lead the way with two goals this season. Graduate transfer Bria Bass andSusannah Anderson have a team-high two assists thus far.

The Phoenix squad has 20 returners from the 2015 season, which posted a winning record of 9-8-2 and started the year with a Division I era program-best, 7-1-1 mark, in the first nine games. Elon has infused 10 newcomers into the fold, which includes nine total freshmen, three of which are international student-athletes, and a graduate transfer.

Out of the 20 returners, nine players made starts in 10 or more games in 2015. Three of the Phoenix’s top scorers from last season, juniors Anderson and Ballotti, sophomore forward and 2015 CAA All-Rookie team honoree Tori Baliatico, as well as assist leaders Sydney Schillingand Amanda Lasater, will look to assist in an improved and new-look offense. Four players who started most games on the back line will return in 2016, including Ballotti and Lasater, who are joined by seniors Kara DeGuisto and Sarah Henson.

Ninth-year head coach Chris Neal made history on Aug. 19th, becoming the winningest coach in program history with his 75th career victory at Elon. He surpassed Paul Webster (1995-2003) for the most wins in Elon women’s soccer program history. He earned his 76th win on Thursday against Coastal Carolina.

Freshman goalkeeper Katelyn Fowler was named CAA Rookie of the Week on Sept. 5, after posting a shutout in 135 minutes of action against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 1 and Western Carolina on Sept. 4. She came into the match against the Chanticleers at halftime as a substitute, did not allow a goal in the second half, and made two big saves to help the Phoenix preserve a 2-1 victory over Coastal Carolina. Fowler also earned her first-career shutout in a 1-0 victory at Western Carolina, making four saves in 90 minutes of action.

Sophomore Tori Baliatico earned Honorable Mention accolades by the conference as part of the 2016 Preseason All-CAA Team. The Scotch Plains, N.J. native finished tied for first on the team in points (9) and goals (4) last season and earned 2015 CAA All-Rookie Team honors. She has scored two goals so far this season.

The Tigers are 3-6-1 overall after completing the non-conference portion of its schedule. Towson has earned victories against George Washington, Bowling Green and Temple this season. Natalia Pinkney leads the team in scoring this season with three goals. Seven total players have gotten on the score sheet this season, which includes Elizabeth Coletti’s two goals. The Tigers have posted three shutouts this season. Those came in victories against George Washington and Temple, as well as a 0-0 draw against St. John’s University, who was receiving votes on Aug. 26.

The Dukes are 3-6 overall through the first nine matches. James Madison earned its three victories against East Carolina, Boston University and VCU. CAA Preseason Player of the Year, Ashley Herndon, leads the way with five goals and four assists for 14 total points. Her five goals is a team-high and her four assists is tied with Haley Crawford for the team lead. Head coach David Lombardo earned his 400th career victory in JMU’s 3-2 overtime win against VCU.

Elon returns to Rudd Field on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. to face South Carolina State in non-conference action. The match on Thursday will be broadcasted on Phoenix All-Access. The Phoenix will then jump back into conference play on Sunday, Oct. 2, with a road trip to William & Mary for a 2 p.m. match.