The Elon University women's soccer team fell to James Madison University 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Rudd Field in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play, unable to come back after allowing three goals in the first half.
The Dukes scored all three of its goals in an 11-minute stretch, leading 3-0 after 25 minutes. Head coach Chris Neal said the team's double-overtime win against Towson University Friday night may have played a factor with the quick turnaround.
“They were imposing themselves physically and athletically on us — we were in bits and pieces the first 25 minutes,” Neal said. “I think Friday night had a lot to do with it. We played 17 minutes of double overtime and it was a massive physical, emotional and mental roller coaster. That type of roller coaster is hard to bounce back from.”
The highlight of the match for the Phoenix was freshman striker Kennedy Little’s goal, which came with seven minutes remaining in the match. Little met redshirt junior midfielder Alexis De Groot’s header with a header of her own inside the six-yard box to score her first goal at the college level.
“It feels really good to get my first goal,” Little said. “I just closed my eyes, headed it, and was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s in the goal.’”
Little had been dealing with some health issues off the field, something not lost on Neal.
“Kennedy had a heart ablation earlier in the year, and she had to sit out a lot of the season,” Neal said. “She stepped on the field as a substitute and scored her first goal — I’m proud of that.”
The Phoenix got out to a fast start when junior forward Sydney Schilling’s attempted shot ricocheted off the crossbar in the third minute. But the Dukes struck first blood in the 15th minute, when redshirt sophomore forward Kylie Hegemier’s strike from 25 yards out found the top corner of Elon’s goal, leaving no chance for Phoenix senior goalkeeper Taylor Mohr.
“She made a great shot,” Mohr said. “I gave my best effort — I felt a finger on it. But it was a great shot.”
In the 21st minute, JMU’s senior forward Sydney Braun-McLeod skillfully placed a shot past the outstretched arms of a diving Mohr into the side netting, doubling her team’s advantage. Just five minutes later, JMU extended its lead to three when sophomore forward Steffi Page collected a teammate’s parried shot and calmly placed the ball into an open net.
The Phoenix falls to 5-5-1 on the season and 1-1-0 in conference play. The Phoenix looks to rebound against South Carolina State University at 7 p.m. Thursday in its final nonconference match of the season.