ELON, N.C. – Elon University women’s soccer closes out non-conference action on the road in the state of North Carolina this week beginning at UNC Asheville on Thursday night, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m., followed by a trip to Davidson on Sunday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m.
FOLLOW THE PHOENIX
Updates on the Phoenix’s matches against the Bulldogs and the Wildcats will be provided on Twitter at the handle @elonscores or the program’s handle, @ElonWSoccer. Watch the Davidson match live on the Atlantic 10 Network. You can also follow the action for both matches with live stats.
The Phoenix has history against both schools as Elon has met both in-state foes a combined total of 38 times. Elon and Davidson are former Southern Conference rivals and the Phoenix and Bulldogs were both rivals when Elon was a member of the Big South Conference.
Thursday’s matchup will be the 14th meeting between Elon and UNC Asheville and the first since 2010. The maroon and gold holds a 10-2-2 series lead on the Bulldogs. The Phoenix has defeated the Bulldogs in the last two meetings, which includes the most recent matchup, a 3-0 victory at Elon on Sept. 9, 2010.
Elon and Davidson will meet for the 25th time on Sunday afternoon. The Phoenix is undefeated in the last five meetings and has won four straight against the Wildcats. Elon was victorious in the last meeting by a 2-0 scoreline last season on Sept. 15, 2016. Taylor Paradoski and Tori Baliatico were the goal scorers for the Phoenix in that contest. Davidson’s last victory over Elon came on Sept. 30, 2011 by a score of 1-0.
OFFENSIVE FIRE POWER
Elon has scored 19 goals, which is the most in the CAA and ranked nationally tied for 10th in NCAA Division I women’s soccer thus far. With that total, the Phoenix is averaging 2.38 goals per game this season. Offensively, Elon is creating chances leading the league in assists as a team with 17 in eight matches. Meredith Christopher leads the CAA with 13 total points and is tied with Susannah Anderson for the league lead with four goals. The Phoenix got off to a fast start scoring six goals across the first two games of the regular season, which tied for the fifth-most in program history to open a season. It is the most in a two-game span to start a season since Elon scored nine goals in 1993, before anyone on the current roster was born. Elon was also unbeaten on opening weekend for the first time since 2013.
Elon scored seven goals in its two-match win streak during victories over Richmond (2-1) and High Point (5-1) to bounce back from a loss to No. 20 NC State and a draw against Western Carolina. The Phoenix got off to a fast start with three wins in its first four games, which included two road wins in Florida to open the season and a home-opening win against Chattanooga on Rudd Field. Susannah Anderson scored in four straight matches from Aug. 20-31, beecoming the first Elon player to do so since Nicole Dennion in 2013. Meredith Christopheris tied with Anderson for the team lead in goals (4) and has a team-high five assists this season. Additionally, Kendall Ballotti (2), Carson Jones (2), Reena Wichmann, Grace Bennett, Lauren McKeever, Hannah Doherty, Laura Mitchell, Rakel Jonsdottir and Taylor Paradoski have all scored this season.
Head coach Chris Neal, the winningest coach in program history, has begun his 10th season with the Phoenix, which returns 19 players from the 2016 campaign.
Out of the 19 returners, nine players made starts in nine or more matches in 2016. Highlighting the returners is Ballotti who was named to the All-CAA First Team last season. The Phoenix returns four of its top five scorers from last season Ballotti, Tori Baliatico, Sydney Schilling, and 2016 All-CAA Rookie Team selection Taylor Paradoski. Susannah Anderson, Elon’s top assist leader last year, also returns to Elon’s back line at center back. Elon brought 10 newcomers into the fold, Valentina Estrada, Reena Wichmann, Hailey Tucker, Ashley Rumley, Kara Kimberl, Carson Jones, Meredith Christopher, Olivia Kraebel, Avery Gardner, and Caylin Meikrantz.
WICHMANN NAMED CAA ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Freshman midfielder Reena Wichmann was named the CAA Rookie of the Week on Monday, Sept. 11, after scoring her first-career goal and added an assist during Elon’s wins against Richmond and High Point. She assisted Elon’s opening goal in a 2-1 victory on the road at Richmond and scored in the first 42 seconds against High Point to lead the Phoenix to a 5-1 victory against the Panthers.
CHRISTOPHER EARNS WEEKLY HONORS
Freshman forward Meredith Christopher was named the CAA Player of the Week on Monday, Aug. 21, after scoring four goals and adding an assist during Elon’s 2-0 opening week. Christopher scored her first-career hat trick and the first by an Elon player since Nicole Dennion in 2013. It was also the first season-opening hat trick by a Phoenix since Kate Schabo in 2002. Christopher scored her first three goals in just under 16 minutes to help the Phoenix defeat North Florida, 4-2, on Friday, Aug. 18. The Fort Mill, S.C. native also added a goal and her first-career assist in Elon’s 2-1 win against Jacksonville on Sunday. Christopher was also named an Honorable Mention on TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Team of the Week.
BALLOTTI AND BENNETT HONORED
Seniors Kendall Ballotti and Grace Bennett received Preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention honors from the league. Ballotti was a All-CAA First Team selection as a junior in 2016 after scoring three goals and adding one assist for seven total points at the center back position. She also logged a team-high 1,581 minutes and became program’s first All-CAA First Team selection. Ballotti anchored a back line that posted three CAA shutouts last season, which ranked second in the league. Bennett earned Preseason All-CAA recognition after starting in all 18 matches she played in last season. Starting in the central midfield, Bennett clocked 1,367 minutes of action, scoring a goal and adding an assist.
BREAKING DOWN UNC ASHEVILLE
The Bulldogs (3-2-1) are coming off a 3-0 loss to Kennesaw State on Sunday. UNC Asheville won three of its first four matches of the season, picking up wins against VMI, Wofford and Jacksonville. Courtney Naber leads the team with four goals this season and Caroline Houser has a team-high three assists. The Bulldogs have had four different goal scorers in this early part of the season. Bryson Lee has started in goal for all six of UNC Asheville’s matches this season.
Davidson (1-6-0) looks to snap its six-match losing streak this week. Before facing the Phoenix on Sunday, the Wildcats will host Winthrop on Thursday night. Davidson has not won since defeating Gardner-Webb 4-0 to open the season on Aug. 18. Allison Gray and Cameron France each have two goals apiece to lead the Wildcats in scoring. Three other players have gotten on the scoresheet once in 2017. Perry Zollicoffer leads the team with two assists this season. Both Kendall Thomas and Becca Ravitz have split time in goal this season for the Wildcats.
Elon will kick off league play on Thursday, Sept. 21, hosting UNCW on Latin Night at Rudd Field. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. The Phoenix will close out the first week of CAA action hosting James Madison on Sunday, Sept. 24, at 1 p.m.