In May 2013, Elon University President Leo Lambert and Athletic Director Dave Blank announced Elon would transition to the Colonial Athletic Association starting before the 2014-2015 academic year. If Elon had been a member of the CAA this year, below is how the Phoenix would have compared to the rest of the conference.
Elon Men's SoccerThe Southern Conference Tournament champions three years running, the men’s soccer team will enter the CAA as what is probably the best equipped Elon athletic team from the fall season. Drexel University, the winner of both the regular season and conference titles in the CAA, finished the 2013 season with an overall record of 9-7-4 overall, 4-1-2 in conference play. Elon, who finished with a 15-4-2 overall record and a 4-2 mark in conference play — one game behind Wofford College — would have the best overall mark of any CAA team. The Phoenix finished with one more win and one more tie than the University of Delaware did on the season. The Blue Hens finished fourth in the CAA this season with a conference record of 4-3.
The College of William & Mary, to whom the Phoenix lost in double overtime Sept. 20 for its first loss of the season, earned an NCAA Tournament bid after losing the CAA Tournament final against Drexel. The Tribe is ranked No. 21 in the country. Prior to beating Elon, William & Mary knocked off then-No. 1 seed Creighton University.
The other CAA team Elon faced during the season was Northeastern University. The Phoenix battled Northeastern to a 1-1 draw in the season opener Aug. 30 in the Duke University Classic in Durham.
Having won the SoCon Tournament, Elon, ranked No. 22 in the country, will take on Clemson University Nov. 21 at Rudd Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Regardless of the result Elon garners in the NCAA Tournament, the Phoenix seems to be sitting in good position entering the CAA in 2014.
Elon Women's SoccerHead coach Chris Neal’s squad bounced back from a sub-.500 year in 2012 to challenge for the SoCon regular season and tournament titles. With an overall record of 13-3-6, 5-1-4 in SoCon play, Elon finished as the runner-up to Furman University in both facets.
Scoring was not an issue this season for the Phoenix. Sophomore Nicole Dennion was named SoCon Player of the Year after scoring 15 goals on the year. Elon scored 56 goals on the season and scored an average of 2.55 goals per game, good for ninth in the NCAA.
With an overall 15-5-1 record and a 6-1-1 mark in the CAA, James Madison University won the regular season title but was upended by Northeastern University in the CAA Tournament championship game. Northeastern finished third in the regular season with a 6-9-6 overall record and a 5-2-1 mark in conference.
The only team that significantly struggled in the CAA this season was former SoCon member College of Charleston. The Cougars went 2-14-1 on the year and 0-7-1 in conference. As for the rest of the conference, six of the nine teams had a conference mark of .500 or better.
A preseason matchup with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington is the only game Elon played against a CAA team this season. The Phoenix and Seahawks battled to a 1-1 draw.
Elon VolleyballThe College of Charleston dominated CAA volleyball this season to the tune of a 13-1 record in conference and a 23-5 mark overall. Entering the conference championship, the Cougars are the heavy favorites to sweep the conference titles.
With an overall mark of 16-16, the same record Elon finished with in 2012, head coach Mary Tendler’s team snuck into the SoCon Tournament as the No. 8 and final seed in the tournament. They’ll enter as the underdogs against the back-to-back SoCon regular season champion Georgia Southern University Eagles. Elon has lost four straight matches entering the SoCon Tournament.
Finishing with a 7-9 conference record, Elon’s record regressed from last year and as it enters the CAA, the Phoenix will find the competition tougher. Four of the eight teams this season in the CAA finished above .500, with two more finishing 6-8. No CAA team lost less than 10 games overall this season. The bottom two SoCon teams — The Citadel and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga — combined for nine wins all year. The Citadel went 0-16 in SoCon play this season.
Elon’s 16 overall wins would tie for fourth in the CAA with Hofstra University.
Elon FootballComing off a tough 3-8 season a year ago, the going only got tougher for the Phoenix this year. Sitting at 2-9 overall, 1-6 in SoCon play with one game to go this year on the road against Samford University, it’s no secret the Phoenix has fallen on hard times in recent years.
Elon’s two wins came against Div. III opponent West Virginia Wesleyan College Sept. 7 and a road victory against Furman University Oct. 5 in Greenville, S.C. Against the Paladins, Elon had to hold on and fight off Furman’s comeback bid but ultimately came out victorious. Elon also lost to Western Carolina University this season. The Catamounts had previously dropped 33 straight Div. I games.
A transition to the CAA is not going to be easy for head coach Jason Swepson and the Phoenix. With the 2014 eight-game conference slate already released, the Phoenix doesn’t play this season’s bottom two teams: the University of Rhode Island and the State University of New York at Albany. Albany has not won a CAA game this season and sits at 1-10 overall.
On the other side, the University of Maine is 10-1 overall, 7-0 in the CAA. Towson University sits at 9-2 overall, 5-2 in the CAA. Both teams beat BCS programs earlier this season. In all, seven CAA teams sit with records of .500 or better while the University of Richmond sits at 5-6. It could be a rough year ahead for Elon football.