ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s soccer team is set to take part in the 2017 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Soccer Championships beginning on Saturday, Nov. 4, as the No. 6 seed Phoenix heads to No. 3 seed College of Charleston for a quarterfinal match. Kickoff between the teams is set for 7 p.m. at the Patriots Point Complex in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
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 for free at cofcsports.com or on CAA.tv.
Elon and CofC will face off versus each other for the 20th time on Saturday on the soccer pitch. The Cougars hold a 11-6-2 ledger all-time over the Phoenix, but since entering the CAA in 2014, the maroon and gold has been unbeaten versus CofC, posting a 2-0-2 record. This year, both teams battled to a scoreless draw in Elon as redshirt junior keeper Matthew Jegier posted his 23rd career shutout, passing Clint Irwin ’11 for second all-time in school history in career clean sheets.
The Phoenix has reached the CAA Tournament in each of its four seasons since joining the league in 2014. Elon will be looking for its first win in the postseason tournament as the maroon and gold has a 0-2-1 ledger so far including two home quarterfinal losses.
This is the first time that Elon will be lower than the fourth seed in the tournament with the Phoenix being in good company as the No. 6 seed. Since Elon’s first year in the league in 2014, the sixth-seeded team has advanced to the semifinal round in two of the past three seasons, with No. 6 James Madison winning the league tournament in 2014.
Last Time Out
Amir Berkane’s penalty kick goal in the 74th minute and Jegier’s new program-record 26th career shutout helped the Phoenix to a 1-0 victory at Delaware on Saturday, Oct. 28, clinching Elon the final spot for the CAA Tournament over the Blue Hens. Elon went into the match needing a win or a draw over the Blue Hens to qualify for the CAA Tournament for the fourth straight year.
Both teams spent majority of the opening session battling back and forth with the Blue Hens seemingly having more possession of the ball in the first period. Elon and Delaware ended up tied at 5-5 in shots in the opening half with the Blue Hens having two shots on goal compared to one for the Phoenix.
Inside the 74th minute, Elon would get set up for the only score of the game. Jack Willbye played a cross down the field and moved inside to the top left corner of the box. The Cambridge, England, native was fouled by a Delaware defender with the referee quickly awarding the Phoenix with the penalty kick.
Berkane was chosen for the assignment and slotted his second goal of the season by the keeper to give Elon the 1-0 lead. Both of Berkane’s goals this season have come off penalties.
Delaware spent the rest of the match moving numbers forward as the Blue Hens needed a pair of scores to keep their season alive. Elon held strong including after Delaware earned a free kick just outside the box with 20 seconds remaining. The kick sailed towards the left inside post, but Jegier made the leaping two-handed stop to close the door on Delaware’s final opportunity for an equalizer as Elon hung on for the 1-0 win.
At the Top of the Dean’s List
Jeiger surpassed former Elon keeper Nathan Dean ’14 for the program’s all-time career clean sheet record. Dean set the record during his final season in 2014, breaking Irwin’s previous-record of 22 from 2007-11 and retired with 25 career shutouts. The shutout was the 10th of the year for Jegier, which ties him with Irwin for the most in a single-season at Elon.
About Elon (7-4-6, 3-2-3 CAA)
The Phoenix heads into the match on Saturday winners of three straight, including back-to-back victories on the road, to push its record to 7-4-6 and 3-2-3 during CAA play. Prior to the three-match win streak, Elon was mired in an eight-game winless streak and had not won a true road contest at that point. The Phoenix will look to earn its first win in the CAA Tournament after falling to William & Mary last year in the quarterfinal round as fourth-seeded Elon was upset by the fifth-seeded Tribe, 1-0, at Rudd Field.
Elon’s offense has been up and down this season with the Phoenix accounting for only 17 goals this season so far. The maroon and gold has been shut out seven times this season and has only four multi-goal matches in 2017. Various key players have missed time in the lineup this season for the Phoenix, which has affected its offensive output. Senior Elijah Agu leads the squad with 10 total points on his three goals and team-high four assists while sophomore Tuki Tayali paces the team with his four goals.
The Phoenix defense has remained one of the best units in the league and the country in 2017. Elon has allowed one goal or fewer in 15 of its 17 contests this season and its 10 shutouts is tied for second in the nation. Elon is also the only team in the CAA that has allowed single-digit goals this season (nine), which is tied for fourth in the country. Jegier has put up his case for one of the top netminders in the CAA as he leads the league in goals-against average (0.49), save percentage (.852), shutouts and shutouts per game (0.59).
Scouting College of Charleston (7-5-4, 3-1-4 CAA)
Since its scoreless draw at Elon on Sept. 30, CofC went unbeaten to close out the regular season with a 5-0-2 record including victories at then 15th-ranked UNCW while also handing CAA regular-season champion and No. 1 seed JMU its lone league loss. The Cougars last lost came at the hands of Georgia State in a 1-0 result at home on Sept. 26.
The Cougars have scored 17 goals this season and have four players with multi-goals so far in 2017. CofC is averaging 11.8 shots per match with 73 coming on target at just under 39 percent. Senior Eli Dent leads the team with 11 total points on his three goals and team-high five assists. He also has 14 shots on goal and a pair of game-winners.
College of Charleston has conceded 15 goals this season with the opposition averaging 9.4 shots a contest. Cougar opponents have 62 shots on target this season at just over 41 percent. Keeper Kevin Shields is second to Jegier in the league with six shutouts and in GAA at 0.88.
If the Phoenix wins its quarterfinal matchup, it will head to Harrisonburg, Va., to take on No. 2 seed UNCW next Friday, Nov. 10, in the semifinal round.