Written By Elon Sports Information Dept.
ELON, N.C. - The Elon University men's soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history after a 4-1 shootout win on penalty kicks in front of 3,348 fans at Rudd Field on Thursday night, Nov. 21.
Elon (15-4-3) will travel to Los Angeles, Calif., to face the tournament's overall No. 1 seed, UCLA, on Sunday, Nov. 24, after the program moved past the Tigers (11-7-3) in its second shootout in its past four matches.
"First off, Clemson gave us a fantastic game tonight," said Elon head coach Darren Powell. "They were good from the first whistle and made the game a very exciting one. They made us work very hard tonight defensively, but our guys hung in there and managed to get the victory."
The Phoenix was perfect in all its attempts in the shootout, with Clemson missing on its second and third tries. Junior forward Jason Waterman clinched the game-winning penalty kick for Elon's second penalty kick advancement of the year.
Clemson opened the match on the attack and had four shot attempts within the first seven minutes. Thomas McNamara, T.J. Casner, Jack Metcalf and Paul Clowes each had a strike, but only Clowes' attempt was on frame.
The Phoenix offense was quiet in the first half with only one shot attempt compared to eight for the Tigers. Clemson also had six corners to only one for the maroon and gold in the opening stanza.
In the beginning of the second half, the Phoenix was more aggressive offensively with a couple of breakaway chances. Daniel Lovitz raced down the pitch in the 46th minute and fired a strike from the left side of the box that hit the right side of the post. The ricochet found the foot of Matt Wescoe for the rebound, but Tigers' keeper Andrew Tarbell was there for the save.
During the 53rd minute, Lovitz and Wescoe again had chances to score on another breakaway, but both attempts were blocked by the Clemson defense.
The Phoenix was finally able to get on the board in the 58th minute as Waterman scored a goal from within the box after receiving a cross from Nathan Diehl. Waterman's 12th score of the year gave the Phoenix a 1-0 lead.
Clemson continued on the attack the other way and almost had the equalizer in the 65th minute, but Thales Moreno's shot hit the post. Moreno however did score the tying goal in the 69th minute after a strike from the top of the box knotted the match at 1-all.
The Tigers looked for the go-ahead score in the final 20 minutes of regulation, but Elon was able to play sound defense to force the match into an extra session.
Elon still trailed in overall shots after 90 minutes of play, 18-7 but was slightly outshot in the second period, 10-7. The Phoenix also attempted three corners to one of the Tigers.
Neither team put up a shot attempt in the first overtime session as the match went into a second overtime period.
Elon had four shot attempts in the second overtime, but only Diehl's was on frame. Clemson was held to one attempt that went high forcing the shootout session.
Wescoe was the first player up for the Phoenix and placed in his shot to give Elon the early 1-0 advantage. McNamara responded and tied the score at 1-1 heading into the next round.
After Elon's James Brace put the Phoenix up 2-1, Casner was next for Clemson for the potential equalizer. The follow however hit the post and the maroon and gold were up after two rounds.
Cauê Da Silva almost had his attempt stopped by the keeper in the beginning of the third round, but the ball managed to squeak by and move Elon up 3-1. After another attempt by Clemson hit the post, Waterman finished the match in the following round.
Elon keeper Nathan Dean played all 110 minutes in the posts and had three saves. Tarbell corralled two stops for Clemson.
The Phoenix and the Bruins are scheduled to begin play on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 8 p.m. PST at Drake Stadium.
Elon Sports Information Dept.