The Elon University men’s soccer team has started 5-0 for the first time in program history following a 4-0 win over Davidson College Sept. 12. Freshman forward Jaiden Fortune scored twice in his first match at Rudd Field and senior defender Nathan Diehl and sophomore forward Elijah Agu added goals of their own in the victory.
“I thought tonight was probably our best performance of the season so far," said head coach Chris Little. “We had good balance on both sides of the ball, but we can still get a lot sharper.”
Neither team managed many chances in the opening minutes of the first half. Senior midfielder James Brace had Elon’s first shot of the match in the 10th minute, but his one-time effort went well wide of the right post. Little said he thought some of the players were making things too complicated early on, ignoring the simpler pass and instead trying to make something special out of each pass.
Elon came close to scoring in the 22nd minute. On a corner kick, senior forward Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler’s delivery was met by sophomore defender Jonathan Coleby but his headed effort went soaring over the bar.
Elon found their break though in the 37th minute. Having been on the field for just over two minutes, Fortune received the ball from Eduardo Alvarez, out-muscled freshman defender Jordan Hill and blasted a shot past the Davidson’s senior goalkeeper Matt Pacifici.
"As a center forward, you’re always thinking about scoring goals,” Fortune said. “Coming in and to be able to make an impact like that was really great.”
Just a few minutes later, the Phoenix doubled its lead through Diehl. Senior midfielder Miguel Salazar’s free kick hit the Davidson wall. He was then the first to react getting on the end of the deflection and hit a cross from the right wing which Diehl headed home at the near post.
Elon went into halftime with a two-goal lead, but would soon extend its lead early in the second half. In the 51st minute, Fortune scored his second goal of the match after Brace and senior midfielder Myles Mansfield exchanged quick passes before playing it to Fortune, who slotted the ball under Pacifici.
Davidson had its best scoring chance in the 58th minute. Senior midfielder Shane Macnamara dribbled through the Phoenix defense and found himself one-on-one with redshirt freshman goalkeeper Matthew Jegier, but a last-gasp tackle from Jonathan Wenger blocked the shot as the ball went out for a throw in.
Fortune nearly recorded a hat trick in the 65th minute, but his shot went off the post despite having Pacifici beat.
Agu put the game away with a curling effort in the 89th minute. The Phoenix was probing on the edge of the box and freshman midfielder Billy Beresford set up Agu for his first goal of the season.
After starting the season with weekend trips away from home, senior defender Sam McBride said he was happy to finally play in front of the home crowd.
"It’s just nice being home, I don’t know what it is,” McBride. Said. “The fans were incredible, we always say pack the fence and so many people came out and were supportive of us.”
McBride played all 90 minutes, and was a part of a Phoenix backline that has recorded four clean sheets in five matches.
"We’re keeping them from getting chances, keeping them from getting shots and that’s what we’re working towards,” McBride said.
The Phoenix will return to action on the road against No. 14 Wake Forest University Sept. 15. It’ll be a battle of the unbeaten, as both teams will enter the match at 5-0.
“I’ve played Wake twice since I’ve been here and we beat them both times so Wake’s always a huge game for us,” McBride said.