Overall, it was a very positive weekend for the Elon University women’s soccer team. The Phoenix battled the High Point Panthers to a 1-1 draw on Friday night, then beat Francis Marion at home on Sunday afternoon on junior forward Simi Dhaliwal’s third goal of the season. She tallied just two all of last season.
“We’ve been working hard on crossing and finishing,” Dhaliwal said. “The fact that we scored on crossing and finishing gives us really good momentum going forward.”
Outside of the results, it was also a somewhat positive weekend for the Phoenix from an injury standpoint. However, Elon did lose sophomore midfielder Marissa Russo on Friday night to a broken collarbone. According to head coach Chris Neal, there is an “outside chance” that Russo could return late in the season.
On the flip side, the Phoenix returned three injured players to the field over the course of the weekend in the form of freshmen defenders Katie Boyle and Mel Insley as well as junior defender Jennifer McGorty. Boyle returned on Friday night against High Point while McGorty and Insley returned Sunday against Francis Marion.
As Neal mentioned earlier in the week, the Phoenix “don’t tend to give up goals when (McGorty) is in the game.” Fittingly, Elon held Francis Marion without a goal for the clean sheet, as sophomore goalkeeper Kate Murphy had six saves in the game.
“Ironically enough, with Jen McGorty on the field, we don’t give up a goal,” Neal said following the Francis Marion game.
On the weekend, both of the Elon goals were scored on crosses to Dhaliwal in the box. Friday night, it was Russo setting up Dhaliwal. Sunday, it was sophomore midfielder Kim Gardner.
Gardner says that over the past couple of weeks, the Phoenix have been working hard in practice on crossing and finishing in front of the opponents net in an attempt to create more scoring chances.
“All we’ve been doing in practice is working on crosses and finishing over and over again so it finally is paying off,” Gardner said.
The Phoenix will get back to work in preparation for their conference opener on Friday, Sept. 21 against Western Carolina.