ELON, N.C. – A pair of late, second-half goals as well as staunch defense for the fourth straight game propelled the Elon University men’s soccer team to a commanding 3-0 victory over Triad rival High Point on Friday night, Sept. 8, at Rudd Field.
Elon continued its unbeaten streak to start the season at 3-0-1 while also posting a clean sheet for the fourth straight game with its win over the Panthers (2-2). This is the first time since 2009 that the maroon and gold has posted a shutout in four consecutive games while holding the opposition off the board in 380 minutes of action this season.
“I think High Point is a dynamic, fast-paced attacking team that we were able to limit tonight,” said Elon head coach Marc Reeves. “They are obviously well coached and will do well in the Big South this year, but I thought we did a fantastic job of limiting them to just a few shots on a few clear opportunities. We prepared well, it took a group performance and some depth off the bench as they gelled and held in there and kept a clean sheet again.”
During the first 20 minutes of the match, Elon controlled possession over the Panthers, getting off three shots during the first part of the game. The Phoenix would get its first shot on goal in the 25th minute, but John Walden’s attempt was punched away by the keeper. Elon would get a couple of corner kicks over the next two and a half minutes, but still could not maneuver past the High Point defense.
With less than five minutes left in the opening half, Elon found itself attacking High Point in its offensive third. Hassan Pinto sent a ball from the top right corner into the box for Elijah Agu. Agu played the ball and fired off a shot, but it was saved by the Panthers’ Keegan Meyer. However, Jaiden Fortune was taken down inside the box by a defender, setting up a penalty kick opportunity for the Phoenix. Amir Berkane was given the assignment and put the maroon and gold on the board with his finish the high over the netminder for a 1-0 advantage before the end of the half.
The second half featured High Point chasing after the equalizer, but getting few opportunities past the Phoenix defense. Elon would put the game seeming out of reach inside the 74th minute as Fortune connected on his second goal in as many games, tapping in a finish off a cross from Luke Matthews to give Elon the 2-0 advantage with just over 15 minutes left to play.
Nearly seven minutes later, Fortune helped the Phoenix put High Point away for good as the junior beat the defense down the right side and sent a cross inside to Agu near the six-yard area. Agu fired a strike that hit the bottom of the crossbar before settling into the net for a 3-0 lead as Elon held off the Panthers to keep its unbeaten, shutout streak intact.
Inside the Box Score
• The Phoenix won the shot battle, 12-3, over the Panthers as Elon tallied six shots on goal compared to only one for the Panthers.
• Both Agu and Fortune had a goal and assist on the night, staying tied for the team-lead in total points with six. It was Berkane’s first goal since scoring one against Hofstra last season.
• The clean sheet moved redshirt junior keeper Matthew Jegier into a sole possession of third place all-time in school history with his 20th career shutout. Jegier, who made only one save during the match, becomes only the third keeper in school history with 20 or more career clean sheets.
• Reeves becomes the third coach to open his career unbeaten in his first four games at Elon. Rob Brewer (5-0, 1988) and Darren Powell (4-0, 2005) also achieved that feat.
• Elon’s all-time record versus High Point goes to 12-28-12, but the maroon and gold has been unbeaten in five of the last six matchups.
The Phoenix travels to in-state foe Charlotte for an early-week contest next Tuesday, Sept. 12. That game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.