ELON, N.C. – One hundred and 10 minutes were not enough to settle a highly competitive match between the Elon University men’s soccer team and No. 30/21 NC State as the squads played to a scoreless draw on Tuesday night, Sept. 19, at Rudd Field.
The match was the first draw in the all-time series between the Phoenix (3-0-4) and the Wolfpack (3-2-1) with NC State pushing its series lead to 5-2-1. Elon remained unbeaten on the season with its fifth shutout in its seven games. It was also the third straight overtime period that the Phoenix had played after matches at Charlotte and Hofstra.
Elon dominated possession for the majority of the first half, but could not find that final push to free itself up in its offensive third. The first prime chance for the Phoenix came from John Walden’s header in the 20th minute, but it sailed wide of the mark.
Seven minutes later, Elon nearly got the first score of the game off a corner kick, but Ronni Mleczkovicz’s try was blocked by the defense. The Wolfpack got off its first shot of the match in the 38th minute, but the Phoenix defense forced NC State’s Ade Taiwo to take a difficult shot that went wide.
Mleczkovicz was at it again as he was able to get free near the six-yard area in the 41st minute. The reigning Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week sent a low shot towards the goal line, but NC State’s keeper Leon Krapf dove on the loose ball to keep the match scoreless heading into the half.
NC State picked up the intensity in the second frame, outshooting the Phoenix 5-3 after only getting one shot in the opening stanza. In the 56th and 57th minute, the Wolfpack had back-to-back looks, but they sailed wide of the goal.
Elon continued to push its numbers forward for the evasive first goal. Krapf had to make a couple of saves starting in the 71st minute as he corralled a shot from Mleczkovicz then stopped a header from Luke Matthews on a free kick close to the 76th minute mark.
The stalemate continued for the next 10 minutes before NC State’s Julius Duchscherer had a few looks in the 86th and 88th minute. Both tries went wide as Elon was forced into overtime for the third straight game.
The first overtime period consisted of one overall shot between the two squads, which came from Walden in the 97th minute. The sophomore could not find the accuracy as the ball sailed wide again leading into a second overtime period.
The second overtime saw both teams having a chance at the golden goal. Duchscherer found himself free on a shot, but keeper Matthew Jegier snatched the ball before any harm was done in the 102nd minute.
As the clock wound down on the match, Elon frantically pushed its numbers forward to get the golden goal. The Phoenix penetrated deep into its offensive third and sent a cross to striker Tuki Tayali, who had positioned himself deep into the box with less than 10 seconds left. Tayali headed the ball high toward the goal that nearly snuck inside the bottom of the crossbar, but Krapf just got his fingertips on the ball to knock it out of play. The play resulted in Elon receiving its fourth draw of the season.
Inside the Box Score
• Both teams were deadlocked in shots at eight-all, but the Phoenix had five shots on goal compared to two for NC State.
• Walden and Mleczkovicz led the Phoenix with three shots apiece, while Duchscherer led the match with four shots.
• Jegier tallied two saves on the night while playing every minute in goal. The clean sheet was the 21st in his career, one shy of tying former Elon and current Toronto FC netminder Clint Irwin ’11 for second all-time in school history.
• The draw moved Elon’s record to 7-4-5 versus schools from the Atlantic Coast Conference since 2010.
Elon returns home to host James Madison in its Colonial Athletic Association home opener on Saturday, Sept. 23. Kickoff for that match is slated for 7 p.m.