On the heels of its highest ranking in program history, the No. 8 Elon University men’s soccer team lost for the first time in 2015, a 3-1 shortcoming to the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina.
A second half brace from junior midfielder Danny Deakin sank the Phoenix after senior midfielder Eduardo Alvarez leveled the match at 1-1 in the 50th minute.
The loss drops Elon to 7-1, while the win brings South Carolina to 4-2-1.
Elon's first chance of the game came from a shot by senior midfielder Miguel Salazar in the fifth minute, but his effort from the top of the box was blocked by the Gamecocks defense. Senior forward Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler had a chance a minute later, but he too couldn’t hit the target as his shot went high over the crossbar.
South Carolina redshirt senior forward Asa Kryst tested redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matthew Jegier in the eighth minute, but was equal to the task saving the shot from the right wing.
The Phoenix nearly found the opener in the 17th minute. Vandermaas-Peeler whipped in a corner that was headed in by senior defender Sam McBride, but couldn’t steer the ball inside the post.
The Gamecocks took the lead in the in the 31st minute. After nearly taking the lead a few minutes earlier, senior forward Kevin Walker capitalized on an Elon turnover and his shot from the top of the box got by Jegier for his second goal of the season.
South Carolina would take its lead into halftime, but the Phoenix didn’t wait long in find the equalizer coming out of the break. Alvarez scored from the left wing in the 50th minute to level the match.
Alvarez nearly assisted another goal in the 62nd minute. Sophomore defender Jonathan Coleby got on the end of Alvarez’s corner, but the South Carolina defense was there to block the shot.
But, the Gamecocks would soon retake the lead. After winning a free-kick from 26 yards out, Deakin beat the Elon wall and Jegier for his fifth goal of the season.
Trailing for the second time in the match, the Phoenix threw caution to the wind in search of an equalizer. Freshman forward Jaiden Fortune had a close-range chance in the 81st minute, but his shot went wide of the right post. Less than a minute later, Alvarez had another go on goal and he too was off target with his attempt.
In the 86th minute, junior midfielder Taylor Adler took a shot from the top of the box, but failed to test the Gamecocks keeper.
With Elon pushing forward for an equalizer, the Gamecocks hit back and scored again in the 88th minute. Deakin scored his second of the night, and sixth of the season, after being played in by junior midfielder Kurtis Turner.
It’s the first time Elon’s conceded three goals all season and the first time since Sept. 26 of last season the Phoenix allowed three or more goals.
Elon will resume Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play on Sept. 26 when the team travels to take on the University of Delaware led by CAA Preseason Player of the Year junior forward Guillermo Delgado.