LYNCHBURG, Va. – Taylor Paradoski’s game-winning goal in overtime and first career hat trick propelled Elon University women’s soccer to a come-from-behind 5-4 victory at Liberty in its season opener on Thursday evening, Aug. 16, at Osborne Stadium. The win marks Neil Payne’s first-career victory at Elon and as a head coach.
Elon scored three unanswered goals after trailing 4-2 with 25 minutes remaining in regulation. Paradoski scored her second and Olivia Kraebel converted a late penalty to send the match into overtime. Just six minutes into the first half of overtime, Paradoski toe-poked the ball past the goalkeeper to complete her hat trick and clinched the win.
“Anytime you start with a win, it sets the right tone for the season,” said Payne. “In terms of the performance, we were really good in spells, but there’s still things we have to fix. I think if we can fix the mistakes, things can be really positive moving forward. Overall, you have to give credit to all of the players for their character. They never gave up, that’s an expectation of ours, and they’ve bought into that.”
The Phoenix created some good changes in the 15 minutes of the match. Carson Jones’ best chance of her first three attempts hit the crossbar in the 14th minute.
Paradoski scored the first goal of the match in the 21st minute as she finished a lofted through ball from Kara Kimberl to give Elon the 1-0 lead. Liberty answered on a corner to level the match less than four minutes later as Devon Sipala finished with a header off Lauren Weyhandt’s delivery.
Elisa Warren then pounced on a loose ball in the box to give Liberty the a 2-1 advantage in the 28th minute, but Hannah Doherty capitalized on a goalkeeper error in the 33rd minute and the first 45 minutes ended with both teams with two goals apiece.
Just over 10 minutes into the second half, Liberty retook the lead in the 56th minute through Gabrielle Farrell as she pounced on a loose ball in the box to put the Flames ahead 3-2. Liberty went up by two off a corner kick as a Phoenix defender failed to clear a header and put the ball into her own net to five the Flames a 4-2 advantage in the 65th minute.
The Phoenix would then begin its comeback with just 25 minutes left in regulation with two goals from Paradoski and a penalty from Kraebel to seal the win. Elon starts the season 1-0 after the win and Liberty falls to 0-1 to start its 2018 campaign.
– Neil Payne earned his first-career victory as a head coach for his career and at Elon with the victory.
– Taylor Paradoski notched her first-career hat trick.
– The Phoenix has now won five straight season opening matches since the 2013 season.
– Elon is now unbeaten in eight straight season openers dating back to the 2010 season.
– This is the second straight season that an Elon player has scored a hat trick in the team’s season opener.
The Phoenix comes back to Rudd Field for its home opener on Sunday, Aug. 19, to host Triad rival UNCG at 7 p.m.