ELON, N.C. – After a four-match road trip and 24 days since last playing at home, the Elon University men’s soccer team hosts No. 24 UNCW in its Colonial Athletic Association home opener on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Rudd Field. The game is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Fans can follow the Phoenix on Wednesday 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 also be streamed through Elon’s Phoenix All-Access channel with John Roddey and Jenny Berman on the call.
Elon will meet UNCW for the ninth time on Wednesday overall and the third time as league foes. In a series dating back to 2001, the Phoenix holds a 5-2-1 advantage all-time over the Seahawks and has a current three-game win streak against UNCW. This is also the third straight season that UNCW comes into the matchup nationally ranked. Last season, the maroon and gold earned a 2-1 victory in Wilmington, N.C., against the 24th-ranked Seahawks. Both programs are playing in Elon for the first time since 2013.
James Madison Recap
Closing a four-match road trip, the Phoenix battled to a scoreless draw at James Madison in its most recent match on Saturday, Sept. 24. The result ended the Phoenix with a 1-1-2 ledger during the road swing while keeping the maroon and gold unbeaten in its series all-time against the Dukes at 1-0-2. Keeper Matthew Jegier tied a career-best with seven saves in the contest and posted his third clean sheet of the season and the 12th in his career.
After posting draws in its first two league games, the Phoenix currently sits fourth in the CAA standings with two points and a 0-0-2 record. Delaware and Hofstra are both undefeated in league play with six points and a 2-0 record while Northeastern is third with three points behind its league-opening win over Drexel. UNCW, College of Charleston, William & Mary and JMU each have a point to follow in the standings.
Since joining the CAA in 2014, Elon has split its league home openers with a 1-1 record. The Phoenix suffered a 2-0 setback to Hofstra in 2014, but defeated Drexel 3-1 last season. Overall, Elon has posted a 3-1 ledger in conference home openers since 2012.
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 midfielder Marcel Fahrenholz, have started every game this season while three others – Austin Hill, Jack Willbye and Tuki Tayali – have played over 150 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.
So far during the 2016 season, the Phoenix has made great use of its overall depth on opposing teams. Among position players, 14 players have tallied over 150 minutes for the maroon and gold this season with 13 of them seeing action in all seven matches. A total of 11 players have notched points so far this season for the maroon and gold. While Elijah Agu has accounted for six of the Phoenix 16 goals this season, he is one of eight Phoenix players to have scored a goal in 2016 and one of seven to have boasted 10 or more shot attempts.
Elon will look to snap its longest overall winless streak of the season on Wednesday versus the Seahawks. This is also the longest winless streak in conference play for Elon since drawing a 1-1 tie at William & Mary and suffering a 2-0 loss against the Pride in 2014 in consecutive contests.
The Phoenix was held scoreless in its first contest of the season last Saturday at the Dukes while also being outshot in the contest. Despite that result, Elon still remains one of the top offensive teams in the league. The maroon and gold ranks second in the CAA in total shots (137), points (48), goals (16), goals per match (2.00) and is tied for the league league in assists (16) and assists per game (2.00).
Agu’s six goals is tied for the CAA-lead, but is looking to notch his first score since NC State on Sept. 13. The Cary, N.C., native is also second in the CAA in total points at 13 and points per match (1.62). His three game-winners is also tied for best in the league.
The Phoenix defense has allowed six goals thus far in 2016. Through eight games, Elon opponents are averaging just under 10 shots per contest and connecting with a .076 shooting percentage. Only twice this season has Elon allowed more than two goals in a match as the opposition has a .354 percentage on shots on target. Jegier is second in the league with a GAA of 0.71 and third overall in save percentage (.750).
The Seahawks enter the match on Wednesday with only one defeat on its record during the 2016 campaign. UNCW began the season 4-0 before a 5-0 setback at the hands of Florida Gulf Coast on Sept. 17. The Seahawks quickly recovered and earned a 2-0 win over No. 5 Charlotte to hand the 49ers their first loss of the season last Tuesday, Sept. 20. UNCW then opened its CAA slate with a 1-1 draw against William & Mary on Saturday. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, UNCW was ranked 24th in the recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Top-25 poll.
The Seahawks offensively have been one of the more potent teams in the CAA. UNCW leads the league in goals per match at 2.14 and has had multi-goal games in five of its seven matches. The Seahawks are also peppering opponents with nearly 14 shots per contest and have been more on the attack in the second stanza with 58 shots and nine goals scored. Individually, the top scorers for UNCW has been Julio Moncada with four goals and a pair of assists along with Stian Sandbekkhaug who has a team-best five goals.
UNCW has conceded eight goals on the year for an average of 1.14 per match. However, most of the scores came in the Seahawks’ 5-0 setback against FGCU as UNCW has outscored opponents 15-3 in other contests. Ryan Cretens has played every minute in goal this season for UNCW and has made 13 saves with a GAA of 1.11.
Elon is back on the road for the next two contests with the first coming versus Triad rival High Point on Saturday, Oct. 1. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.