ELON, N.C. – The Elon University men’s soccer team will begin the 2018 season at the John Rennie/Nike Invitational at Duke University. The Phoenix opens the tournament versus Vermont on Friday, Aug. 24, at 5 p.m. before closing out the weekend versus No. 20 Florida International on Sunday, Aug. 26, at noon with both matches coming at Koskinen Stadium.
Fans can follow the Phoenix throughout the tournament for updates on Twitter at the program’s handle @ElonMensSoccer. Both of Elon’s matches will be streamed live on WatchESPN/ESPN3 via the ACC Network Extra.
Elon will face both Vermont and FIU for the second time ever on the soccer pitch this weekend. The Phoenix’s original meeting versus the Catamounts came in 2002 with Elon earning a 1-0 victory. The Panthers faced the Phoenix more recently in 2014 with both teams battling to a scoreless draw in Elon.
• The Phoenix returns 19 letterwinners and eight starters from last year’s squad and second-year head coach Marc Reeves. Reeves helped lead the Phoenix to a 7-5-6 ledger in 2017 and its fourth straight trip to the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
• Elon welcomes 14 newcomers to its roster this season including a pair of spring sophomore transfers in JP Meibohm and SahrFelix Sandy. Meibohm came to the Phoenix from Fort Lewis University while Sandy arrives from Marshall.
• Among the notable returners for Elon includes redshirt senior keeper Matthew Jegier and junior defender Luke Matthews. Both players earned All-CAA accolades in 2017 and were named to the league’s 2018 preseason squad.
• Jegier returns for his final season in goal for Elon as the program’s all-time career shutout leader with 26. Last season, the Charlotte, N.C., native led the CAA in goals against-average (0.57), save percentage (.833), shutouts per match (0.56) and total shutouts (10), which tied the program’s single-season school-record.
• Elon was selected to finish fifth in the 2018 CAA Preseason Poll as voted on by the league’s head coaches. Defending league tournament champion William & Mary was tabbed as the preseason favorite with 64 points and eight first-place votes.
• Reeves also added two new additions on his coaching staff in Nick Sakiewicz and Robert Goldin, joining him and Maciej Sliwinski, who was elevated to the role of associate head coach this spring. Sakiewicz joins the Phoenix from Guilford College while Goldin begins his coaching career after playing in goal at Oglethorpe University.
In the previous 45 seasons, the Elon men’s soccer program has posted an 18-25-3 all-time record in its first match of the season. Last year, the Phoenix tied Fordham 0-0 in its opening match.
Elon has opened its season at the John Rennie/Nike Invitational every year since 2013. Over that time, the Phoenix has posted a record of 6-2-2 versus the competition at the tournament.
The Catamounts enter the new season after coming off a 10-8-1 record in 2017 and a 5-1-1 mark during conference play in the American East, earning the league’s regular season crown. This season, UVM was picked to finish fourth in the 2018 America East Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Junior goalkeeper Aron Runarsson returns between the posts for the Catamounts. As a sophomore, Runarsson was an American East first team honoree and the league’s Goalkeeper of the Year after posting a 0.69 GAA and a .862 save percentage during conference play. Geo Alves also joined Runarsson on the first team after leading the league in goals (9), points (23) and game-winning goals (3).
FIU went 12-2-4 last season while going undefeated during league play in Conference USA with a 6-0-2 ledger en route to a NCAA Tournament berth. The Panthers advanced to the second round of the national tournament before being eliminated by Duke in Durham, 2-1. FIU begins this season ranked 20th in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll and was voted as the C-USA preseason favorite.
Panthers’ senior forward Santiago Patino was selected as the 2018 C-USA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Patino is coming off a season in which he led the conference in total goals (15) and points (35) and garnered numerous accolades during the 2017 season, including C-USA Player of the Year, C-USA Offensive MVP and was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America First Team and was a semifinalist for the Hermann Trophy.
After the John Rennie Nike Invitational, Elon begins a three-match road trip with the first visit to Virginia next Thursday, Aug. 30, in Charlottesville, Va. That match is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m.