The Elon University women’s soccer team lined the field with 20 flags representing Spanish-speaking countries as it hosted its third annual Latin Night celebration at Rudd Field versus Colonial Athletic Association rivals University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

In light of September being National Hispanic Heritage Month, this yearly festivity is hosted in conjunction with Elon’s El Centro de Español — located on the first floor of the Carlton building — to pay tribute to the Latin-American population on campus, and acknowledge the love for soccer shared among the Latin-American countries.

Before kickoff, a table was set up pitchside with an array of typical Hispanic dishes — including platanos maduros and arroz con frijoles — to compliment the Spanish music that was played during the team’s warmups. During the game, a Spanish-speaking public announcer called out substitutions. Members of El Centro were there in full support, including sophomore Maris Rivera who spoke to the significance of Latin Night in the Elon community.

“It’s important to have a night like this because it brings all the Latinx students together,” Rivera said. “[It’s important] to teach people about the culture, give them an opportunity to come and talk to us and ask us questions and to let them know that we’re fun.”

Diana Prieto Viñas, assistant director of El Centro, was also in attendance for this year’s Latin Night celebration and shared her views about the evening and the impact Latin Night has had on El Centro.

“Bringing food and music represents our culture,” Viñas said. “Each year [popularity] is increasing, and we have more people coming [to El Centro].”

On the field, the women’s soccer team drew with UNCW after a hard-fought 110 minutes, bringing its record to 7-2-2. After the match, head coach Chris Neal was in high praise of the celebration, especially since his team never lost on Latin night.

“I think it’s awesome — Elon’s a very global-minded university,” Neal said. “It brings different culture, different electricity to the game ... we’re undefeated on Hispanic Heritage night, we haven’t lost a game in three years.”

Elon’s Latin Night was a success for the third consecutive year, and members of the Phoenix community will be looking forward to the fourth annual Latin Night which is slotted for Fall 2018.


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