The Elon men’s soccer team advanced to the championship game of the Southern Conference tournament with a thoroughly dominant 5-1 semifinal win over Georgia Southern University in Greenville, S.C. Friday, Nov. 15.
The win marks the 93rd career win at Elon for head coach Darren Powell. He is now tied with Steve Ballard on the all-time wins list at Elon. Ballard set the record as coach of the Fighting Christians from 1978-1987.
The Phoenix, who will take on top-seeded Wofford College in the conference championship match Sunday, Nov. 17, jumped on the Eagles right away, scoring four goals in the first half, the most in any half this year. The five goals are a season-high for the Phoenix.
The first goal came in the 12th minute on junior forward Jason Waterman’s volley into the back of the Eagles net off a corner kick from senior midfielder Daniel Lovitz, who was named SoCon Player of the Year earlier in the week.
The Phoenix added to their lead two minutes later on senior midfielder Matt Wescoe’s header off a cross into the Eagles' box. The goal was Wescoe’s fifth on the season and extended the Phoenix lead to 2-0.
In the 36th minute, the Phoenix continued their onslaught on the Eagles' goal with a third goal. Sophomore midfielder James Brace sent a long ball to sophomore forward Caue Da Silva, who had slipped behind the Eagles back line. Da Silva controlled the pass and slipped the ball past Eagles senior goalkeeper Neal Bates, giving the Phoenix a 3-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Brace was rewarded for his assist with a goal of his own off junior defenseman Austin Dunker’s through-ball that left Brace with just Bates to beat. Brace hit a low, hard shot to the left of Bates to increase the Phoenix’s lead to 4-0. The Phoenix scored the last of their five goals on a penalty kick from Lovitz in the 48th minute, all but assuring the Phoenix would move on to Sunday’s title game.
The Eagles scored in the 84th minute on Witt Carlisle’s shot from the right side of the Phoenix box to pull his team within four. It was too little, too late, however, as the Phoenix move on looking to win their third straight Southern Conference tournament championship and earn the conference’s automatic birth into the NCAA tournament.
The Phoenix will take on Wofford Sunday at 1 p.m. in a rematch of last year's SoCon Tournament finals. Elon beat the Terriers after having to come from behind for the win. The game was played in Cary, N.C. This year in Greenville, Wofford has more of the home advantage only having to travel just down the road.