About 15 minutes after blowing a wide-open opportunity in front of goal, Elon University men’s soccer junior forward James Brace shook off his miss and converted on his next opportunity to score the match’s lone goal and give Elon a 1-0 victory against High Point University on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at Rudd Field.
It was a few minutes into the second half when Elon senior forward Jason Waterman flew down the left flank and delivered a perfect ball to Brace, who had an uncontested header right in front of the goal with only the goalkeeper in front of him.
“You have to take the positives from the move,” Brace said. “It was a good run by Waterman and then he put a quality ball in the box and I made a good run but it was just the execution of the finish.”
It was a golden opportunity that he let go by the wayside, as he pushed the ball wide left and sprawled out on the grass, kicking himself over the chance to give his team the lead. But he didn’t let it bother him. He brushed it off and kept making dangerous runs into the Panthers’ box.
“You just have to continue to get in the right areas because the one run you don’t make, the ball will fall right where you were going to run,” Brace said. “You have to keep getting in there.”
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Sure enough, Brace converted his next opportunity in the 64th minute after junior forward Caue Da Silva sent a low cross into the box that found the foot of Brace, who jumped into the air and volleyed the ball past Panthers freshman goalkeeper David Price and into the back of the net.
“That’s what James is all about,” Elon Head Coach Chris Little said. “He comes alive in the 18-yard box. He has an awareness and a perception to get on the end of balls.”
The Phoenix earned its fifth shutout on the season while holding the Panthers to six shots, only one of which was on goal, and two corners.
“We always pride ourselves on limiting shots and getting the shutout,” senior defender Austin Dunker said. “We stuck to the gameplan and applied it on the field.”
With the win, Elon improved to 4-3-3 on the season, while the Panthers dropped to 3-4-1.
The Phoenix will host Hofstra University on Saturday, Oct. 4 at Rudd Field in its first conference game as a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.