Ahead of the Elon women's soccer team in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament against sixth-seeded Wofford is a match that poses a serious threat to Elon's tournament life, but also a resemblance of the 2012 semifinal.
Last season, Elon bowed out against eighth-seeded Georgia Southern in the waning seconds of double overtime.
In the match, Georgia Southern, defense kept the Elon offense at bay. That's what Wofford will look to do Friday night against the Phoenix.
"Wofford is an incredibly stingy team," Elon coach Chris Neal said. "They have given up 11 goals on the entire year and they had six shutouts in the league. They're athletic, they're tough to break down and they have some kids that can run at you up top. This is absolutely a situation where we're not overlooking Wofford."
Overlooking the semifinal opponent became an issue last season, but senior Jennifer McGorty said the Phoenix learned from that mistake.
"Last year, there was a series of events where we had just beat Appalachian State, UNCG was out and Samford was out," she said. "So we felt a little overconfident going into Georgia Southern, which kind of aided to overlooking them. But this game, we're in a much different mindset going into this one."
While the matchup mirrors an image of the 2012 matchup with Georgia Southern, Neal said he was positive it would be a very different team coming of the gate than a season ago.
"We learned a good lesson last year,” he said. “We found out we were playing the eight-seed and I think we kind of assumed we were going to be in the championship at that point. We just didn't carry the respect for that game we should have. I can assure you that experience has helped us and we're not making that mistake again this year."
In the regular season, the Phoenix and Terriers battled to a 1-1 draw Oct. 11 on Rudd Field. This time, Elon has to travel to Spartanburg, S.C. While Elon will be the home team on the scoreboard, the Terriers will play the role of visitors on their home field.
At home this season, Wofford went 5-1-2. The only loss came to Coastal Carolina early in the season. On the road, the Phoenix are 4-1-3.
With the Terriers ranking No. 18 in the country in goals-against average and Elon No. 6 nationally in scoring offense, sophomore Nicole Dennion, who was named the Southern Conference Player of the Year on Tuesday, said the Phoenix need to take what they learned last season, use the experience from the draw earlier this season and play their game to move on to the finals.
"We just need to go out and do what we have been doing all season by pressuring the ball, scoring goals and coming out with high intensity," she said.
Elon has been to the semifinals three of the past four years, but has failed to reach the finals since entering the Southern Conference. As the Phoenix get set to leave the conference for the Colonial Athletic Conference next season, McGorty said she’s not only excited about the chance to win the SoCon title in her final year with Elon, but to win the title on the final chance.
“It’s my senior year so of course I want this,” McGorty said. “But I don’t only want it just for me and my senior year. This is our last year in the SoCon. This is the last year we can do it. It’s the final thing we have to do. I just want Elon to be able to be able to win the title and say, ‘See ya and good luck.’”