We all pass through bumps and hills in the road when traveling. Some are short and easy, others long and difficult.
Elon University men’s soccer senior midfielder Matt Wescoe described the Phoenix’s 2-1 overtime loss at Wofford College Saturday, Oct. 12, as a “little bump in the road” in this season.
Luckily enough, Wescoe and Elon were able to get past that bump, earning a 1-0 victory over Southern Conference foe Georgia Southern University Tuesday, Oct. 15, on Rudd Field.
“A big part of the game is momentum throughout the season,” said Wescoe, who entered the game tied for the SoCon-lead with seven assists. “Wofford was just a little bump in the road. It was great to come out and have such a good first half performance against a very good Georgia Southern team.”
That solid first half performance was highlighted when Wescoe scored the lone goal of the game in the 31st minute, taking a cross from junior forward Jason Waterman and sending it into the back of the net.
“(Sophomore midfielder) James (Brace) did well pressuring and winning the tackle,” Wescoe said. “We broke out wide with Waterman, and he had a great cross. I found myself free and was able to touch it by the goalie.”
The Phoenix controlled much of the first half of play, holding an 11-3 shots advantage over the Eagles.
“I thought Saturday we actually played quite well in the second half,” said Elon head coach Darren Powell. “The first half today was a good reflection of that. I thought we came out very strong in the first half and played some really good chances early.”
Junior goalkeeper Nathan Dean and the Elon defense held its own in the second half, protecting the 1-0 lead. Dean hauled in one save, while the defense held Georgia Southern to just five shots and did a stellar job of keeping the ball out of the zone.
“One thing that’s very good about this group of players is they defend the lead,” Powell said. “I thought in the second half, we defended the lead well and limited their opportunities. Overall, we had a very good performance.”
Elon tallied a total of 20 shots on the night, including nine shots on goal. Wescoe said being able to finish well in these tight situations like Tuesday’s is something the team is able to do well.
“We needed a little more composure,” Wescoe said. “We’re always going to have the games where we think we should have scored a lot more than we did. It might have been an off night, an unlucky night. The ball bounces that way sometimes. We just have to be confident and have composure — something we’re all capable of doing.”
Elon improves to 10-2-1 overall, with a 2-1 mark in the SoCon. Ranked No. 25 in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, the Phoenix will now look forward to a date with the No. 22-ranked Furman University Paladins Saturday, Oct. 19, in Greenville, S.C. at 7 p.m.
“(Furman) is a very talented team, we’ve known that for several years,” Powell said. “They’re one of the more consistent teams in the league. This is what you play for. Players come to Elon to play in big games. Saturday will be a great matchup and hopefully will have an exciting ending.”