ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s soccer team and second-year head coach Marc Reeves announced the Phoenix’s 2018 schedule on Friday, July 13. The upcoming campaign is scheduled to feature seven games at Rudd Field as well as five regular season matches versus teams that were selected for the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Additionally, the 2018 slate will feature six matches versus teams that finished in the top 50 of the 2017 final RPI rankings including three in the top-25.
“This is an exciting and challenging schedule and we look forward to our group being committed on a daily basis in preparing for each match day opportunity,” said Reeves. “The margins in winning college soccer games are extremely tight and we will continue to preach a process of improving towards maximum potential and a team first approach in all we do.”
Elon will play three exhibition matches prior to the regular season: on the road at Campbell (Aug. 12) and Gardner-Webb (Aug. 16) before hosting Davidson in its final preseason tune-up on Aug. 18.
“With a large incoming class, preseason training and these three games will be vital for all players new and returning to demonstrate they can be consistent with their play and impact the game in the correct way,” said Reeves. “We will need strong leadership from our upperclassman in reinforcing our program philosophies and promoting a culture of competition and unity.”
The Phoenix begins the regular season season at the John Rennie/Nike Invitational versus Vermont on Friday, Aug. 24, at 5 p.m. It will be the sixth straight season Elon will compete at the prestigious tournament hosted at Duke University. The maroon and gold concludes its opening weekend against Florida International on Sunday, Aug. 26, with a noon kickoff. Last season, FIU earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament and finished No. 20 in the United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll.
“We are very thankful to Coach (John) Kerr and Duke for having us part of their great opening weekend tournament, which again sees us face two very strong programs with recent NCAA success,” said Reeves.
The Phoenix will hit the road for three straight contests starting with a visit to Virginia on Thursday, Aug. 30. The match will be Elon’s second-ever regular-season contest against the Cavaliers and the first since 2000. Last season, UVA reached the 2017 NCAA Tournament and finished No. 19 in the final United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll. Following the Virginia contest, Elon travels to Big 10 opponent Rutgers on Sunday, Sept. 2, before concluding its road swing at Triad rival High Point on Sept. 8.
“Our non-conference games see us play some exceptional opponents both locally and further away,” added Reeves. “We’ll be playing against some great teams who in many cases were either in the NCAA Tournament or won their regular season or made their conference tournament final.”
The Phoenix welcomes in-state foe Charlotte to Rudd Field for its home opener on Tuesday, Sept. 11. Elon hits the road again to face its Piedmont rival UNCG on Sept. 15, for the first matchup between the two programs since 2013. Elon’s second home contest is set for Sept. 19 against the Mountaineers of Appalachian State.
The schedule shifts to the start of Colonial Athletic Association play as the Phoenix opens league competition on the road at Drexel on Sept. 22. Elon then welcomes defending league tournament champion William & Mary to its home pitch on Sept. 26, before concluding the month with a trip to Northeastern on Sept. 29.
“The CAA last year again showed just how strong a conference it is by two teams in the NCAA tournament and our own RPI being very close to gaining an at large bid,” said Reeves. Each and every team is well coached and ready to compete and every conference contest a truly tough test.”
Elon begins the month of October with two straight league games at home versus Delaware on Oct. 3, and versus UNCW on Oct. 10. UNCW is coming off reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season after earning an at-large bid.
After a road trip to College of Charleston on Oct. 13, Elon closes out its 2018 home schedule versus Hofstra on Oct. 20 and versus Duke on Oct. 23. The Blue Devils advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and finished fifth in the final RPI rankings and 13th in the final United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll. The regular season concludes with a trip to James Madison on Oct. 27. The Dukes earned the CAA regular-season title last season after posting a 5-1-2 mark during league play.
The 2018 CAA Men’s Soccer Championship Tournament begins on Nov. 3, with the quarterfinal round at campus sites. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Nov. 9, and Nov. 11, respectively, at the site of the league’s regular-season champion.