ELON, N.C. – A first-half hat trick from sophomore Tuki Tayali and the first collegiate goal from fellow sophomore John Walden aided the Elon University men’s soccer team to its best offensive output of the season as the Phoenix earned a 4-0 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Northeastern on Saturday night, Oct. 14, at Rudd Field.
The Phoenix earned its first three points of the CAA season, improving to 4-3-6 overall and 1-2-3 during league play. Northeastern dropped to 2-10-2 on the year and 1-4-1 in league play. The match also snapped an eight-game winless streak for the maroon and gold while extending the Huskies’ winless mark to eight.
Tayali opened the scoring for the Phoenix inside the 11th minute. Elon earned a corner kick with Nicholas O’Callaghan taking the assignment sending the ball into the box. The ball found the head of Walden, who was able to get a head flick over to Tayali, who was able to set it and fired a one-touch shot past the keeper for the early goal.
Nearly nine minutes later, Tayali put the Phoenix on the board again on a left-to-right cross from Elijah Agu. Agu played the ball just near the left side of the penalty area and found Tayali near the far right post with the striker able to finish with his third goal of the season at that point.
Just two minutes after that, Walden got into the action with his first collegiate goal with a one-on-one finish against the keeper. Walden played a long lead pass from Nicholas O’Callaghan after getting behind a defender and faced the keeper in a semi-breakaway. Despite a defender closing on his back, the Chapel Hill, N.C., native put the ball out of play of the netminder and sent in a score into the bottom left of the net for a Phoenix 3-0 advantage.
Tayali capped off the scoring for the maroon and gold in the 23rd minute. The London, England, native played a touch pass from Walden, who himself took a cross from Agu off the left side. Walden drew the keeper towards him and was able to find Tayali along for the easy finish to the back left corner for the hat trick.
Elon ended the match with 14-10 shot advantage over the Huskies, including a 10-4 mark in the opening stanza. The Huskies sent numbers forward in their attempts to get on the scoreboard, but was denied each time the Phoenix defense and keeper Matthew Jegier.
Jegier played all 90 minutes between the posts and made four saves in the match, including one two minutes into the second stanza that earned the Huskies a pair of corner kicks. The Charlotte, N.C., native closed out the set pieces with another save off Alec Supinski’s header in the 49th minute.
Northeastern had one final attempt for a goal in the 89th minute, but Jegier was once again there to preserve the clean sheet for Elon’s 4-0 victory.
Inside the Box Score
• The clean sheet was the CAA-best eighth of the season for the Phoenix, who has allowed one goal or fewer to opponents in 20 of its past 22 matches.
• Jegier picked up the 24th clean sheet of his career, moving him one shy of tying Nathan Dean ’14 for the most shutouts in school history.
• Tayali became the second player in as many seasons to score a hat trick for the Phoenix. Agu also achieved the feat last season versus St. Bonaventure in 6-0 rout.
• O’Callaghan, Walden and Agu each had two assists in the match for the Phoenix. For Agu, the helpers improved his point total eight on the year, tying Tayali for the most on the squad.
• Since joining the CAA in 2014, Elon has outscored Northeastern in regular-season meetings 12-1.
• Walden became the seventh different player to score a goal for the Phoenix this season. His two assists were also the first of his career.
The Phoenix will now turn its attention for its next matchup as Elon hosts No. 2 Wake Forest on Tuesday, Oct. 17. That match is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff.