DURHAM, N.C. – The Elon University men’s soccer team rebounded from its season-opening setback with a 3-0 defeat versus No. 20 FIU on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 26, in the Phoenix’s finale at the John Rennie/Nike Invitational at Koskinen Stadium.
After the Phoenix (1-1) fell to Vermont in its season-opener at the tournament on Friday, Elon rebounded with a dominating performance against the 20th-ranked Panthers (0-2). The maroon and gold also saw two members of the squad earn spots on the All-Tournament team in senior Jack Willbye and redshirt junior Hassan Pinto.
“FIU is a very good team,” said Phoenix head coach Marc Reeves. “They play really good soccer and I thought we did a great job of pressing the right ways with an incredible team effort. To collectively bounce back and prepare well in a short space of time with an executed game plan is great. A 3-0 win is a great result against anyone, but against a ranked opponent like them puts us in a good position after losing on Friday.”
The Panthers were on the attack early against the Phoenix with three shots in the first 10 minutes. Neither of those were on goal as FIU’s best chance came on a shot inside the 18th minute from Inigo Sagarduy that was blocked by the Phoenix defense inside the box.
Elon got its first shot on goal attempt in the 23rd minute. Mikey Thomas played a great long ball from Amir Berkane while going one-on-one with a defender. Thomas could not get off a clean shot however resulting in an easy save for the keeper.
The Phoenix did get on the scoreboard near the 37th minute. Valdi Jonsson was able to play the ball off a failed clearance to knot his first collegiate goal from 15 yards near the top of the right side of the box and put the Phoenix ahead 1-0.
After the opening stanza, Elon had the early lead in shots, 6-5, with two on goal to none for the Panthers. FIU forced two corner kicks in the first period while blanking the maroon and gold on the set piece.
Elon picked up its pace in the second half, increasing the intensity as the time ticked by. The Phoenix press paid dividends near the 60th minute of action. As the FIU keeper was clearing the ball to his teammate near the left side of the box, Elon’s Iñigo Bronte made a run to intercept the pass forcing the defender to race back towards the ball. As both players met at the ball, the momentum sent it back towards the goal and past the netminder for a FIU own goal.
The Phoenix kept the pressure on the Panthers inside the 71st minute. Jack Edwards was able to send a cross in near the six-yard area that was originally deflected by the keeper. Jimmy Contino was able to secure the rebound for an easy tap-in for his first collegiate goal and put Elon ahead 3-0.
FIU made several attempts to try to get on the scoreboard over the final 20 minutes, but was unsuccessful as Elon went on to win its first game of the 2018 season and claim its third win over a top-20 ranked opponent since 2015.
Matthew Jegier played all 90 minutes in goal for the Phoenix and had three saves in the match for his 27th career shutout. His counterpart, FIU’s Hugo Fauroux, had four stops.
Elon heads to Virginia this Thursday, Aug. 30, for its next match. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.