MVP: Kate Murphy
The argument could be made that then entire back line of the Elon defense could be the team MVP, but the title can only be given to one person. Sophomore goalkeeper Kate Murphy was one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the Southern Conference this season. She allowed just nine goals on 159 shots, which is good for an 88.6 save percentage in conference. She recorded six shutouts this season, including a stretch of three in a row in conference against Georgia Southern University, Davidson College and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in mid-October. That tied the program record, which was set during the 2008 season.
Best Game: Sept. 14-16 against High Point (T 1-1) and Francis Marion (W 1-0)
Being 1-5-1 through seven games is not good. That was Elon’s record entering the weekend of September 14-16 with its final two non-conference matchups of the season on tap against local rival High Point University and Francis Marion University. Having just returned from a trip to Wilmington that infused confidence in the program even though the Phoenix dropped both games, the High Point and Francis Marion games became big determinants of what would happen the remainder of the season.
Elon battled High Point to a 1-1 draw on the road, then topped Francis Marion 1-0 two days later on Rudd Field to give the Phoenix some momentum moving into conference play.
“We struggled a little bit early in the season, so it’s really good to be undefeated this last weekend going into conference,” sophomore midfielder Kim Gardner said after the game against Francis Marion. “That’s definitely going to boost our confidence in the long run.”
And boost the confidence it did. The Phoenix finished with a winning season in Southern Conference play for the fourth straight year, making them one of three teams in the league of 11 to accomplish the feat. The other two were the top two finishers this season — Samford University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Best Moment: Beating Appalachian State University in the quarterfinals of the SoCon tournament
Freshman defender Mel Insley called it the best moment of the year, and we couldn’t agree more.
“Beating Appalachian State at Appalachian State, that was great,” she said.
It’s not common in soccer to get multiple chances to play a team twice in a single season, let alone your rival. Elon got that chance this year, and the Phoenix made the most of it.
The first weekend of Southern Conference regular season play, Appalachian State came to Rudd Field and defeated the Phoenix in overtime after Elon scored the first goal early on.
After the game, head coach Chris Neal told his players to keep their heads up and that the loss didn’t define them as a team. Elon went on to win or tie the next seven games before a loss to Samford University on the final Sunday of the season.
Drawing the Mountaineers in the first round of the conference tournament was a chance at redemption for the Phoenix. Behind senior midfielder Jaclyn Wood’s second goal of the season, the Phoenix topped Appalachian State to advance to the semifinals of the tournament.
In the semifinals, the Phoenix lost 1-0 in double overtime to Georgia Southern University.
See women's soccer beat writer Andrew Wilson's season-in-review piece here.