The Elon University men’s soccer team drew 0-0 with Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rivals James Madison University on Saturday evening, marking the team’s fourth consecutive draw and fifth of the season.
Both sides lacked a creative edge and struggled to find quality scoring opportunities throughout all 110 minutes of Saturday night’s heated CAA matchup, which saw 47 fouls committed and six yellow cards distributed between the two squads. This void in creativity can be partially attributed to the absence of five Phoenix players — Elijah Agu, Jaiden Fortune, Nick O’Callaghan, Hassan Pinto and Sam Loeffler — who were left out of the team for a violation of team rules.
“We had some internal issues that needed addressing as a group,” said head coach Marc Reeves. “They need to be more committed off the field, certain players, to ensure that our on-field success can amount to something.”
The Phoenix’s clearest scoring chance came in the 99th minute when redshirt sophomore midfielder Billy Beresford found himself unmarked at the top of the six-yard box but was unable to keep his headed effort on target. The Phoenix also tested the JMU keeper with a strike from distance in the 30th minute, courtesy of junior midfielder Amir Berkane, but the visiting goalie was up to the task and cooly tipped Berkane’s shot over the crossbar.
This match also proved to be the sixth shutout for Elon’s redshirt junior goalkeeper Matthew Jegier, and brings his career shutout total to 22, tied for second-most in school history with former Phoenix and current Toronto FC goalie Clint Irwin. After the match, Jegier was quick to credit his teammates for making his job in net that much easier.
“My defenders make it easy for me,” Jegier said. “If I didn’t have those four in front of me, the shots [on goal] probably would have been triple . . . Clint Irwin, fantastic goalkeeper, playing professionally — to be tied with him feels good.”
While a clean sheet is always a nice accomplishment, players, coaches and fans alike would be happy to concede a goal or two in return for a win. Jegier said “clean sheets are nice but we’d rather have the wins,” to echo coach Reeves’ comment that, “it doesn’t matter if you’re undefeated if you’ve tied five games.”
This draw moves Elon’s record to 3-0-5, and while the team is surely proud of its undefeated status, it will be looking to break stalemates and secure wins going forward. The Phoenix returns to action on Wednesday, September 27 at 7 p.m. when it faces the CAA powerhouse and nationally ranked No. 18 the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.