In the last month, Elon University has released its men’s and women’s soccer schedules for this fall.
It’ll be the second year in the Colonial Athletic Association for the Phoenix, which the men thrived in during the regular season but the women struggled.
Let’s break down both team’s schedules.
Men’s soccer (2014 record: 9-6-4)
After exhibition games at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and North Carolina State University, Elon heads to Duke University for the John Rennie/Nike Classic. There, the Phoenix faces DePaul University and St. Mary’s College, both for the first time. DePaul went 4-10-4 last year, but the Gaels went 12-5-2 and have been successful lately in the West Coast Conference.
Elon then takes on Campbell University and University of North Florida in the UNC Wilmington Classic. The Ospreys have been the runner-ups in the Atlantic Sun Conference each of the last two years, and were 15th in the nation in goals per game. Five scorers from that team return this year.
The Phoenix plays at Rudd Field for the first time Sept. 12 against former Southern Conference foe Davidson College, and then heads down I-40 to take on Wake Forest University, who Elon beat in both 2012 and 2013. The Wildcats went 10-2-6 last year in its first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference before losing in the conference tournament in penalty kicks.
Elon opens CAA play at home Sept. 18 against Drexel University, which finished eighth in the league last year. The Phoenix then travels to University of South Carolina for a nonleague game. Elon beat the Gamecocks 1-0 in an exhibition last season.
FULL MEN'S SOCCER SCHEDULE: CLICK HERE
Elon’s toughest CAA stretch comes next, with road games at University of Delaware, which hosted the CAA Championships last year by virtue of winning a tiebreaker atop the standings, and College of William & Mary before heading back to Rudd to host Northeastern University.
The Huskies avenged a regular-season loss with a 2-0 victory in the CAA Quarterfinals to eliminate Elon last year.
The Phoenix hosts Lipscomb University, which won a share of the Atlantic Sun regular season crown last year, for a nonleague game before hitting the road for a CAA game against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, one of three teams that tied for the league’s regular season title last year.
Elon then hosts CAA Tournament champion James Madison University before road games against Duke University — who the Phoenix beat for the first time in program history a year ago — and Hofstra University, the third team that won a share of the CAA regular season title.
The regular season concludes with home games against Radford University, which went 12-5-3 last year, and College of Charleston, which finished last in the CAA.
Elon will face eight teams who either finished first or second in their conference during the regular season or advanced to the conference championship game. It ends heavily, too, playing five of those teams in the final seven games of the year.
The key for Elon will have to be putting itself in a good position through the first two weekends, and then excelling in that aforementioned stretch of three straight CAA games. The Phoenix can’t lose more than two of those games.
Projected record: 9-6-3, 4-2-2 CAA
Women’s soccer (2014 record: 5-12)
Elon dealt with losing a pretty solid core of seniors entering last year, and by virtue of that, leaned on a number of freshmen. That perhaps contributed to the 1-8 mark and last-place CAA finish.
This year’s schedule is bizarre in the nature of the home and road swings it has. The Phoenix opens with four straight road games, has a stretch of four straight home games midway through the year and ends with four straight on the road.
The favorable part of the ending — the last six games to be more exact — is the chance to steal some CAA victories. The last six games are all against CAA teams, and only one — James Madison — finished in the top four in the league last year.
So the home games with UNCW and College of Charleston are good opportunities before the road swing of Delaware — the lone CAA win a year ago — Drexel, Towson and James Madison.
That means there must be a brutal CAA stretch earlier in the year, and there is. Within eight days in late September-early October, the Phoenix faces three of the top four teams in the league — reigning champion Northeastern, Hofstra and William & Mary.
FULL WOMEN'S SOCCER SCHEDULE: CLICK HERE
That’s a tough way to begin conference play, and it’s exactly what the Phoenix did last year as well. Elon opened with home games against Hofstra and Northeastern, losing both by a combined score of 8-1.
Smashed in between those two CAA bunches is a home game against Francis Marion University, who Elon beat 3-1 last year,
Elon’s opening four games are against Charleston Southern University, Davidson, N.C. State and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. It’s a pretty favorable stretch — those four went a combined 13-57-6 last year. Chattanooga didn’t beat a Division I team all year.
In fact, only two of Elon’s nonconference opponents had a winning record last year — the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Coastal Carolina University. The rest (nine teams) were a combined 40-113-12.
Elon gets Coastal Carolina at home and UNCG on the road the same weekend in September. Before that is the home opener against North Florida and a trip to South Carolina State University.
After UNCG, Elon travels to Gardner-Webb and hosts Charlotte before CAA play.
It’ll be important for the Phoenix to take advantage of the nonconference schedule. But keep in mind Elon’s record last year is comparable with a lot of those teams.
That three-game CAA stretch could be the breaking point. It’ll be tough to come out of there with a victory, but not getting blown out could do some works for Elon’s confidence the rest of the way out.
Projected record: 7-10-3, 2-6-1 CAA