The Elon University Women’s soccer team dropped its fifth straight Colonial Athletic Association game on Friday, Oct. 10 night with a 1-0 loss at the hands of Drexel University. A goal from senior forward Megan Hammaker in the 68th minute was difference as the Dragons remain undefeated in Colonial Athletic Association play.

“Our effort was phenomenal. We created a variety of different chances and for some reason the soccer gods are being very cruel to us right now,” Elon head coach Chris Neal said.

The first half was temporarily halted after just seven minutes as torrential rain delayed play for an hour and a half. When played resumed, neither side could create a clear scoring shot. 

In the 13th minute, Drexel senior midfielder Alyssa Findlay dribbled through the middle of the field and fired off a shot from outside the box that drifted high over the bar.

The first shot on goal didn’t come until the 21st minute, when Hammaker’s effort landed softly into the arms of Elon junior goalkeeper Sydney Branson. The Phoenix turned the ball over in its own end, the ball came to Hammaker, but couldn’t trouble Branson.

Drexel’s best first-half chance came in the 28th minute.  A well placed cross from forward Madison Dunn from the right wing landed at the foot of Hammaker at the far post, but couldn’t steer her shot past Branson.

The Phoenix only managed two shots in the opening 45 minutes, with its second proving to be their best chance to break the deadlock. Senior forward Marisso Russo cut in on the left wing, but pulled her right footed shot wide of the near post.

“We just couldn’t finish tonight,” freshman forward Grace Bennett said. “We just have to focus on small goals and work towards bigger ones.”

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Elon almost took the lead in the early going of the second half. After a scramble in the box, senior midfielder Kim Gardner got off a shot that was saved by Drexel junior goalkeeper Kelsie Fye.

In the 57th minute, Drexel answered with a chance of its own. Freshman forward Madison Dunn outmuscled Russo down the left wing, but Branson came off her line to deflect the ball away to safety.

Soon after in the 60th minute, Elon nearly scored from the counter attack. Senior defender Caroline O’Dee sprinted down the left wing and delivered cross that went untouched by the Drexel back line. Kathryn Black corralled the ball, but couldn’t gather her composure as the ball drifted high and wide of the net.

Drexel got its breakthrough at the 64:14 mark. Hammaker received the ball on the edge of the box attempted a shot that was deflected right back to her and fired home a curled effort into the top corner of the net.

“It was an unlucky goal like we’ve had all season,” Branson said. “There’s just not much we can do on stuff like that.”

Nicolette Wilkins went in on goal looking to put the game away in the 86th minute, but Branson was there for one of her eight saves of the evening.

“I was really into it mentally. I just wanted to put this team way,” Branson said.

Elon continued to pour forward numbers looking for an equalizer, but they came up empty.  In the 90th minute, freshman forward Sydney Schilling whipped in a corner that junior midfielder Sam Burch headed just wide of the post.

The Phoenix set a team goal to keep a clean sheet. Despite not achieving it, it was a step in the right direction after conceding 13 goals in their previous four matches.

“I’m just inspired by their effort,” Neal said. “I’m not giving up. They’re inspiring me to show up to work tomorrow at 9 a.m. and coach. If they keep doing what they’re doing eventually it’s going to turn.”

Elon will have its final home game of the season on Sunday, Oct. 12 when it hosts the University of Delaware at 1 p.m. at Rudd Field.

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