An early goal and a little bit of luck helped the Elon University men’s soccer team defeat the University of Detroit Mercy 1-0 Sunday night.

The Phoenix got on the board early when sophomore forward Jaiden Fortune hit a cross from redshirt sophomore midfielder Marcel Fahrenholz in mid-air with his right foot and speared it past the Titan keeper for a fourth-minute goal. 

“Marcel whipped in a ball from the side, and I was able to get in between defenders and it just came off the inside of my foot,” Fortune said.

The best opportunity for the Titans came in the 53rd minute, when a foul inside the box sent redshirt junior forward Adam Clauss to the spot. Elon sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Jegier dove to the right as Clauss went left, but he missed it just wide of the post. 

“We knew that he took a penalty kick against High Point [University] Friday and went to my left,” Jegier said. “Apparently, he decided to change it up today. I guess that didn’t work too well for him. I was glad when I looked back and saw the ball on the other side of the post. It was a big relief for everyone.”

Elon head coach Chris Little added that it was “a big moment in the game, but the other four or five unbelievably good chances we had — where I don’t know how the ball didn’t go in — it balances out.”

The Phoenix outshot Detroit Mercy 16-3 on the match, with Elon getting the only three shots on goal. Little said that the Titan strategy of sitting back was a challenge for Elon.

“Detroit had a game plan coming in to put everyone behind the ball and make it difficult for us,” Little said. “Anytime a team puts 11 guys in their own half, it’s tough. But we created 16 shots and I think we created some really good looks at goal.”

With the two victories over the weekend, the Phoenix was crowned the winner of the Elon/High Point Classic. Junior forward Elijah Agu was named Tournament MVP thanks to his hat trick Friday night. Agu was joined by sophomore midfielders Nick Adamczyk and Amir Berkane and freshman defender Luke Matthews on the All-Tournament Team. 

The Phoenix improves to 3-1 on the season but opens Colonial Athletic Association play in its next match, a 7 p.m. match next Saturday at the College of Charleston. Jegier has posted two straight shutouts without much challenge, but says he’s ready for the conference play. 

“It’s just going to be a different game,” Jegier said. “The defense has done well, but Charleston has a good offense. We’re going to have to organize a little bit more, but I think we’re up for the challenge. We had a good defense last year, and Luke is stepping up really well. I think we can handle it.”

Fortune added: “All games matter, but conference is more intense. If you want to get to the tournament, that’s a big way to get there. We just need to relax. We’re a group of talented players, and while we’re young, we know what we need to do.”