For the Elon University men’s soccer team, the schedule has worked out for a massive two-week home stretch that starts tomorrow night.
The Phoenix hosts four matches in the 12 days, including three Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) matches against the top three teams in the conference. With a 3-0-2 record in the conference, Elon still is in striking range for a conference title.
And, with stakes as high as they are entering the weekend, head coach Chris Little says the team is bursting with excitement over the chance.
“We’re in a position where — if we win our remaining three games — we win the CAA. And they’re all home games. Our record at Rudd speaks for itself," Little said. "It’s going to be three tough games and three good teams — we know that. But we’re at home, and we have everything to play for. How exciting is that? It’s a great opportunity for our players.”
Elon begins the stretch with a Homecoming night match against the second-place University of Delaware at 8 p.m. Oct. 22. It’s the second-straight year that the Phoenix will play at that time after last year’s Homecoming night match drew 1,388 fans. Little said there was a noticeable buzz coming from the crowd.
“Anytime you get a big crowd, and one that’s into it, it makes a difference,” Little said. “The players, they feed off of that. There was a different energy.”
That energy is helped by a sizable influx of former men’s soccer players making the trip to town for Homecoming. The team hosts a dinner Friday night and a scrimmage between alums and current players Saturday morning, for which Little credits assistant coach Brad Franks.
“Brad does a really good job of organizing everything and keeping in touch with alumni,” Little said. “It’s just a really good weekend.”
After hosting Delaware, the Phoenix will host local rival Duke University at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It’s the final nonconference match for Elon and a chance to go 2-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
But the bigger matches for Elon come after that, as the Phoenix hosts the CAA’s best team, Hofstra University, at 7 p.m. Oct. 29. Elon will then face the University of North Carolina at Wilmington at 7 p.m. Nov. 1, making a match that was rained Sept. 28.
Elon would be out of a chance to win the conference title if UNCW hadn’t defeated Hofstra 3-1 Oct. 15. Little said the team was focused on its own match that night — a 1-0 win at Northeastern University — but noticed what was on the scoreboard afterward.
“Anytime where you’re in a situation where you control your own destiny, that’s what you want,” Little said. “That result allowed us to control our own destiny — the players know that, we know that. It’s huge — we’ve got a chance.”
And that chance begins tomorrow night, in front of what Little hopes will be a massive crowd.
“It starts with Homecoming, with a really good crowd against Delaware,” Little said. “If we manage to get through that, we’ll get Hofstra. And if you beat Hofstra, you’ll have a great shot at winning the league.”