After the Elon University men’s soccer team put on a potent offensive display in the first half against No. 19 Hofstra University, it seemed like the Phoenix had a chance to win its first game in over a month. Yet, back-to-back goals by Hofstra in the opening five minutes of the second period suggested otherwise, as the Phoenix would go on to fall 3-0 on Sept. 30 at Rudd Field.
Head coach Marc Reeves said while his team played a fantastic first half, he didn’t like how they reacted once they started falling behind in the second.
“Wasn’t pleased with, sort of the way that we responded to giving a goal away,” Reeves said. “Because 1-0, you’re still in it. But unfortunately, we didn't react in the right way. And that snowballed into a second and then we try a little too hard and it goes into a third and then you're out of the game.”
While the “fantastic offense” in the first half didn’t generate any goals in a rematch of last year's Coastal Athletic Association championship final, impressive ball movement did create several shots for the Phoenix.
The Pride kept up with the Phoenix as the team generated five shots of its own in the opening period. Hofstra also racked up two yellow cards. With a high level of play and composure evident against a nationally ranked opponent, it seemed like Elon might even have an advantage going into the break.
Reeves said their success in the first half stemmed from his team’s ability to get players on the ball, talent resulting from a good pace of play and good set-up on defense.
“Anyone who watches the first half said we can be one of the better teams in the country,” Reeves said. “We made them look very average in the first half, but a half of football doesn't win games.”
Coming out of the half, Hofstra wasted no time proving why it is a nationally ranked program.
After a shot by Elon graduate student defender Eddy Righetti went out top, the Pride raced down the field. As graduate student midfielder Isak Sedin committed a foul on defense, Hofstra junior midfielder Eliot Goldthorp capitalized on a penalty kick opportunity in the 46th minute, as he sent a goal into the right bottom of the net. While Elon junior goalkeeper Tomasz Wroblewski managed to get a hand on the ball, it still caromed in, allowing Hofstra to take a 1-0 lead.
In the 49th minute, just three minutes after his own goal, Goldthorp made sure to find other ways to help his teammates. He took a quick throw-in and found Hofstra senior forward Ryan Carmichael who proceeded to fire a goal into the upper right corner, allowing for the Pride to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Carmichael, who also is the reigning College Soccer News National Player of the Week, entered the match with seven individual goals scored in the season. Elon has only scored six goals as a team.
After the first two goals, the Pride’s offense surged as they were able to generate seven shots before scoring their next goal. The Phoenix created just two shots in that 21-minute span.
In the 71st minute, Carmichael was assisted by Goldthorp again as he sent the ball into the lower left corner. This was his second goal of the evening and his ninth of the season.
After Carmichael’s second goal, both squads struggled to generate offensive looks for the rest of the night at Rudd as Hofstra walked away with a 3-0 win. The Pride’s victory puts them in a three-way tie for second place in the CAA standings. Elon’s loss puts them in last.
Reeves said he hopes his team can come together in order to secure, what he called, their only goal.
“We're hoping that they can start clicking a little bit and can secure enough points to get ourselves into the tournament because that's our only goal, is finishing sixth in the CAA,” Reeves said.
If the Phoenix finish outside of the top six mark of the CAA at the end of the season, the team would be ineligible to compete for a conference championship. Only the top six of 10 teams in the CAA qualify to play for the championship.
The Phoenix will look to early next week for a matchup with another ranked opponent, No. 18 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The game at UNC’s Dorrance Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 3.