ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s soccer team heads to Newark, Del., for its final match of the regular season as the Phoenix faces Delaware on Saturday, Oct. 28, in a key Colonial Athletic Association contest with postseason implications at Stuart and Suzanne Grant Stadium.
Fans can follow the Phoenix throughout the match on Twitter at the program’s handle @ElonMensSoccer. Other scores and updates will also be provided at the handle @elonscores. The match will be streamed online via Hens All-Access on bluehens.com.
The brief series between the Phoenix and the Blue Hens has been an exciting one since Elon joined the CAA in 2014. Delaware holds a 2-1-1 lead in the series all-time and defeated Elon last season at Rudd Field, 3-2, after battling back from a 2-1 deficit. The Phoenix however earned a 1-0 victory the last time the two teams met in Newark, Del., in 2015.
CAA Tournament Implications
Saturday’s match will be a very high pressure one as the winner will clinch the sixth and final spot for the upcoming CAA Tournament beginning next Saturday, Nov. 4. With the maroon and gold currently in the driver’s seat in the sixth and final spot in the standings with nine points, Elon would need to win or draw versus the Blue Hens to officially clinch the final spot. Delaware, who sits in seventh in the league standings with eight points, would need to win the contest to overtake and eliminate the Phoenix. Since entering the CAA in 2014, Elon has reached the league tournament each season as a fourth seed or higher including a No. 2 seed in 2015.
Last Time Out
A late goal from junior Jaiden Fortune in the 86th minute lifted Elon to a 2-1 victory at intrastate rival Davidson on Tuesday night, Oct. 24, in a nonconference battle at Alumni Soccer Stadium. The win was Elon’s second in a row and its fifth straight overall over the Wildcats.
Elon got on the board quickly inside the fifth minute of the match. Ronni Mleczkovicz received a cross on the right side and was able to maneuver around a couple of defenders before finishing to the far post for his third score of the year.
Davidson found the evasive equalizer in the 74th minute. Hugh Chatham sent in a cross from the left side that found the foot of Jamie Diluzio, who one-touched it for his first goal of the season, tying the match at 1-1.
In the 86th minute, Elon retook the lead thanks to Fortune. Jack Willbye forced a turnover near midfield and sent a pass to Mleczkovicz, who in return forwarded a through ball to Fortune racing along on the right side. The Orlando, Fla., native played the ball and beat the keeper with a shot to the far post for his third goal of the season.
Near the top of the Dean’s List
Redshirt junior keeper Matthew Jegier is just one clean sheet away from passing Nathan Dean ’14 as the program’s all-time career leader in shutouts. Jegier tied Dean for first on the program’s all-time list with his 25th career shutout versus Drexel last Saturday, Oct. 21. It was also the ninth shutout of the season for the Charlotte, N.C., native, which is tied for the second-best single-season performance in school history and one shy of tying Clint Irwin’s ’11 program-mark of 10 in 2009.
About Elon (6-4-6, 2-2-3 CAA)
Elon has struggled with its offensive consistency this season, averaging only one goal per match so far on the year. Most of the Phoenix’s struggles on the offensive side of the ball have come from key players missing time during the season due to injuries, including Fortune, who has missed seven contests this year. When healthy, Fortune has been a main cog in the Phoenix’s attack and is tied for second on the team with three goals and is tied for third with eight points.
Fortune and Mleczkovicz are two of four players on the Phoenix with multiple goals this season along with Tuki Tayali (four goals) and Elijag Agu (three goals). Agu leads the squad with his 10 points while Tayali paces Elon with 24 shots as the Phoenix as a team is averaging 9.5 shots per contest with 64 attempts on goal.
While the Phoenix offense has been up and down this season, the Elon defense has constantly remained one of the best units in both the CAA and in the country. Elon has conceded only nine goals in 2017 – the only team in the CAA that has allowed single-digit goals this season. Jegier leads the CAA in shutouts (nine), goal-against average (0.52) and save percentage (.842) as he has manned every minute in goal this season.
Scouting Delaware (5-6-4, 2-3-2 CAA)
The defending league tournament champion Blue Hens heads into the match on Saturday without earning in winning result in the month of October. Delaware had its winless streak extended to seven matches in its most recent outing at No. 18 Duke on Tuesday in a 2-1 result.
Delaware has been just slightly better than the Phoenix offensively with 17 goals scored this season (1.13 per match). The Blue Hens are averaging just under 10 shots per match and have placed 56 of those attempts on goal. Sophomore Fede Prieto leads Delaware in points with his team-best four goals and an assist.
The Blue Hens have conceded 16 goals this season with Delaware opponents averaging 12 shots per match. The opposition has placed 79 shots on target this season against the Blue Hens at nearly 44 percent. Redshirt junior Todd Morton has remained solid in goal this season for Delaware, ranking in the top-three of the CAA in GAA (0.96), save percentage (.797) and saves (59).
If the Phoenix wins or draws versus the Blue Hens, it will prepare for the quarterfinal round of the CAA Tournament beginning on Nov. 4. Its opponent will be determined after the conclusion of the other league games on Saturday.