With just two days to prepare for the Greensboro College Pride after the Elon University women's soccer team's game Sunday Sept. 1 against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte was cancelled, the Phoenix dominated the Pride in all aspects of the match and came away with a 3-0 win against the Pride Thursday Sept. 5.
With the ball rarely crossing the midfield line and getting into Elon territory, the Phoenix were on attack for most of the game, evident of the team's 33 shots, 31 on goal, to Greensboro's one.
Elon's first cross of the game in the 7th minute was the only one on point all night, as junior Marissa Russo found sophomore Nicole Dennion cutting into the middle of the box. Dennion put the header away to give the Phoenix an early 1-0 lead.
"Over and over and over again, we failed to get that cross past the first defender when we had four or five people standing in position to score," Neal said. "The quality of our crosses were extremely poor. But a win is a win. We'll take it."
The Phoenix fired 16 shots at Greensboro sophomore goalkeeper Jessica Thatcher in the first half alone, but could only muster the one goal.
Senior forward Catherine Brinkman had a goal waved off due to offsides midway through the half that would have put the Phoenix up 2-0.
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In the 64th minute, Dennion tallied again from outside the 18-yard box near the right sideline. The goal showed just how off the Phoenix were all night on crosses.
"Everyone was in the box and I was just looking to cross the ball but it went in," Dennion said. "It was hard trying to complete anything with so many players in the box but I think we did a good job, definitely in the second half, to open it up and move off the ball and connect passes and we definitely got more crosses into the box."
Neal jokingly used Dennion's cross that became a goal as an example of how bad the Phoenix were crossing the ball all night.
"Well there you go. The quality of our crosses was terrible tonight, so bad they turned into shots and goals," he said.
Senior Kendall Stanley got another insurance goal in the 79th minute an a strike from directly in front of the net for her first of the season.
Greensboro's only shot of the night came in the early minutes of the second half on sophomore goalkeeper Sydney Branson. She replaced junior Kate Murphy in net at halftime, but Murphy was credited with her second shutout of the season and 15th of her career.
Twenty six Elon players saw action in the game, including all three goalkeepers on the roster. Branson and freshman Taylor Mohr split the second half in relief of Murphy.
"A lot of people got to play in this one, which is great," Neal said. "It was just good to get out on the field and run around. And nobody got hurt."
Returning to regularly scheduled programming, the Phoenix return to the field Sunday Sept. 8 against High Point University in a game that has become a rivalry through the recent years.
"High Point is 30 minutes away from us and it's become a great game," Neal said. "The ball got rolling with the men's match with them bringing over a couple thousand fans and us taking over a big crowd, and it's found its way to the women's side, too. There have been a lot of entertaining games between us and this won't be different."
Kickoff between the Phoenix and the Panthers is set for 7 p.m. on Rudd Field.