The Elon University women’s soccer team locked up a spot in the Southern Conference tournament with its 5-0 win on Friday, Oct. 19 against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
“We could finish anywhere from fourth to sixth,” said Elon head coach Chris Neal. “We’re guaranteed a top half finish though.”
After dismantling the Lady Mocs a season ago, scoring a program record eight goals in the win, the Phoenix again got the best of Chattanooga on Friday in junior forward Catherine Brinkman’s triumphant return.
After missing most of the season with a torn MCL, Brinkman returned to the field against Chattanooga with two goals in the 29th and 30th minutes, giving the Phoenix a 2-goal lead going to the break.
Right out of halftime, junior midfielder Olivia Mackey scored her second goal of the season to give the Phoenix a commanding 3-0 lead.
Freshmen Nicole Dennion and Taylor Glenn poured it on in the 61st and 65th minutes, respectively, putting the game even more out of reach at 5-0. After Glenn’s goal, sophomore goalkeeper Kate Murphy was pulled from the game, replaced by senior Shannon Cosgrove.
“We came out sharp and ready to play Friday night,” Neal said. “From the opening whistle, we were very sharp. We executed well and scored goals and made the game really easy.”
The Phoenix extended their shutout streak to three games with the win over the Lady Mocs. It was the longest streak since the team accomplished the feat in the 2008 season.
“We were really good defensively,” Neal said. “The defense was very solid and it was exciting to keep the shutout again.”
In Sunday’s game, the final road match-up of the regular season, the Phoenix found itself in uncharted territory against the Samford University Bulldogs: trailing in a game.
Coming into the game, the Phoenix had suffered one conference loss: Sept. 23 against Appalachian State University in overtime. Otherwise, the Phoenix had scored first in every conference game in which there was a goal.
After Samford sophomore defender Lindsey Hansen one-timed a shot past Murphy in the 41st minute, sophomore forward Brittany Hoffman tallied a controversial goal off the crossbar in the 58th minute.
“(The ball) hit the crossbar and came down,” Neal said. “We cleared it off then end line and the linesman said it crossed the line but none of our girls on the field said it crossed the line.
The Phoenix did not go quietly though, as they battled back late in the match down two goals. Senior midfielder Shannon Foley cut the lead in half when she put back a deflected shot in the 75th minute. The Bulldogs’ defense held strong though following the goal, holding on to the one-goal lead for it’s seventh conference win.
The loss was the first loss in seven matches for the Phoenix.
“I feel Samford is one of the top teams in the league,” Neal said. “They’ve proven that. We came out and we weren’t sharp from the opening whistle. We just did not play well. We did not execute today and we didn’t give Samford our best effort.”
The Phoenix will close out the season against cross-town rival the University of North Carolina at Greensboro on Wednesday, Oct 24 on Rudd Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.