Thanks to junior defender Kendall Ballotti's goal with three minutes left in double overtime, the Elon University women’s soccer team edged Towson University 2-1 in its first Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) match Friday night at Rudd Field.
After 17 long minutes of overtime — when it began to seem as if both teams would settle for a draw — senior midfielder Sarah Henson’s cross made its way through a sea of players to Ballotti, who calmly placed the ball past a diving keeper to win the game for Elon.
“We told ourselves, ‘We’re not losing this game. We’ve worked too hard,’” said Ballotti. “We weren’t going down without a fight.”
The Phoenix opened the scoring in the 31st minute when junior forward Susannah Anderson’s throw-in found senior defender Erin Tanhauser, who calmly took the ball off her chest and found the top corner with a skillful volley from five yards out.
“I don’t really remember part of it, I just remember chesting it and it going in the goal,” Tanhauser said. “Coach [head coach Chris Neal] showed us a clip of Ibrahimović scoring just like that, so I thought I’d try it.”
As the game wore on, Elon dominated with its attacking play, but was unable to find a second goal to increase the margin. But disaster struck with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation, when Towson’s senior defender Marissa Green collected Elon freshman goaltender Katelyn Fowler's attempted punch-clearance and found the back of the net to send the game into overtime.
Though the Phoenix was put into a difficult situation, Neal was encouraged with how his team composed itself, calling this match a "massive confidence builder."
“I’m proud of them. They have experience in late-game scenarios, ” Neal said. “We’ll enjoy this one tonight, and tomorrow there will be championship focus again."
The Phoenix outshot its opponent 19 to 11, with 13 shots on goal as opposed to Towson’s five, leaving a lot to be desired for Neal.
“It’s more quality over quantity — we settled for shots that didn’t have a good chance of going in," Neal said. "If we made different choices we could have won by three goals in regulation.”
This win improves Elon’s record to 5-4-1 on the season and 1-0-0 in CAA play. The Phoenix quickly turns around to face James Madison University at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Rudd Field.