The Elon University women’s soccer team has finished in fifth place in the Southern Conference standings following a 2-0 loss to conference champion and cross-town rival University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
“Give (UNC)-Greensboro a lot of credit,” Elon head coach Chris Neal said. “They clearly wanted to win, badly. At times, we just didn’t match their intensity and physicality so that was a big problem for us.”
After holding off the Spartans attack through the first 30 minutes of the game, UNCG finally broke through with a controversial goal from freshman Katherine Rodriguez.
Rodriguez received a pass from senior Lauren Hein in what looked to be an offside position, then put the ball past Elon sophomore goalkeeper Kate Murphy. Neal and Elon players argued the no-call, but to no avail.
Neal received a yellow card during halftime for continuing to argue with the referee on the call.
The Spartans got an insurance goal nine minutes into the second half from Hein. On a cross from the right corner, the ball bounced in the box and high into the air. Murphy jumped for the ball, but couldn’t corral it. Hein then headed the ball over the Elon defense and into the back of the net.
Elon had multiple chances to score, finishing with eight shots, but couldn’t solve the Spartans defense.
“We had our chances to score tonight that just didn’t go in,” Neal said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes though.”
UNCG has not allowed a goal in six consecutive games.
In the first round of the conference tournament, set to take place Sunday, Oct. 28, the Phoenix will travel to Boone, N.C. to take on the Appalachian State Mountaineers, who finished fourth in the conference.
In the regular season meeting between the two teams, the Mountaineers topped the Phoenix by a final of 2-1 in overtime.
“(Appalachian State) has had a heck of a year,” Neal said. “They’re 7-3-1 in conference; they beat us here in overtime on the first weekend. Both teams are going to want to win really badly because now, it’s do or die. If you don’t win, your season is over.”
Elon is closing the regular season with two straight losses, but senior defender Claire O’Keeffe doesn’t think the results will have an effect on the team’s play in the tournament this weekend.
“This wont have a negative affect,” she said. “If anything, it’ll light a fire underneath us. I think we will come out swinging. You hate the feeling you have after these last two losses and you know you don’t want to have that feeling again. We’ll give absolutely every ounce of energy we have in all of these games. We want that win. We don’t want to feel like this again.”