One mistake is all it takes. One mistake changes the entire complexion of the game. That was the case both Friday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 23 for the Elon University women’s soccer team.
The Phoenix opened their conference schedule Sept. 21 on the road with a 1-1 draw against Western Carolina. Elon’s lone goal came from sophomore defender Caroline O’Dee in the 17th minute from just outside the penalty area. The goal was O’Dee’s first career goal for the maroon and gold.
In the 76th minute, a questionable foul called on sophomore goalkeeper Kate Murphy led to a penalty kick for the Catamounts. Senior Lindsay Carter stepped up and buried the kick past Murphy to tie the game at one.
Throughout overtime, both teams had their chances, but neither could find the game-winner. Western Carolina continually peppered the Elon goal, registering five shots in the final four minutes of overtime, but couldn’t solve Murphy.
“I thought we were unfortunate not to have won it in regulation,” said Elon head coach Chris Neal. “But in overtime, we were fortunate not to lose it. Friday was a good result for us. We’re happy with the point.”
Turning to Sunday against Appalachian State University, the Phoenix struck early again, this time in the sevent minute.
After regaining possession in their own defensive zone, senior defender Claire O’Keefe found sophomore midfielder Raychel Diver at midfield. Diver sent the ball wide to junior midfielder Kimmie Krauss who took it down into the left corner. Krauss then found a charging Shannon Foley in the middle of the box right in front of the Mountaineer goal. Foley’s header went off the crossbar, but bounced back to a trailing Diver who drilled the ball into the right side of the goal.
“The goal was a good all around effort,” Diver said. “I was just there to put it back in.”
Following the goal, the Phoenix continued to dominate the game, but seemingly started to get lazy with the ball. That’s when their fortunes turned.
Appalachian State found the equalizer in the 28th minute following an Elon turnover at midfield. The Mountaineers got the ball to the middle of the field just outside the penalty area where junior Jamie Lockie took a shot ticketed for the left side of the goal. However, the shot was deflected back to the right by freshman Samantha Childress, beating a diving Murphy, who couldn’t recover in time following the deflection.
The mistakes and turnovers continued for the Phoenix throughout the second half, but the team battled to get the game to overtime.
After the Mountaineers dominated possession and took a barrage of shots in overtime, they finally got one past Murphy in the 96th minute off the foot of Childress again for her second goal of the match.
“We came out, we started great,” Neal said. “It was a great first goal, then midway through the first half, we just didn’t cherish our possession the way we needed to. (Appalachian State) scored a great goal to end it, but every time we were going forward, we were giving the ball away entirely too easily, and it’s hard to win a soccer game that way.”
Up next for the Phoenix are two more home games on Friday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 30 against The Citadel and College of Charleston, respectively.
Though harsh with his words to the team following Sunday’s game, Neal did encourage his team to put the tough loss behind them and look forward to next weekend.
“He told us to keep our heads up,” Diver said. “He said that this loss doesn’t define us as a team.”