Elon scores two goals in last five minutes, downs No. 17 WVU 3-2
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 07:10
After holding a 2-1 lead through 85 minutes of play, the No. 17 West Virginia men’s soccer team allowed two late goals and fell 3-2 to Elon Tuesday night.
It was the Mountaineers’ first loss at home since they lost to St. John’s in the first round of the Big East Conference tournament last season.
"I told them it’s my fault and that I didn’t have them prepared," said West Virginia head coach Marlon LeBlanc. "We have to find a way to get them prepared for Sunday afternoon (against Buffalo)."
The Mountaineers notched the first goal after senior defender Eric Schoenle put WVU on top early in the second half after his signature header from sophomore forward Andy Bevin’s corner.
However, Elon’s star forward Chris Thomas would continue to make his mark on the season, getting his 14th goal of the season less than five minutes after Schoenle’s goal.
Thomas found his way in a breakaway and eventually was able to volley a ball past senior goalkeeper Pat Eavenson to tie the game at 1-1.
West Virginia would soon answer with a goal of its own after freshman midfielder Jamie Merriam blasted a shot 20 yards past goalkeeper Dean Nathan.
For a while, it appeared Merriam’s goal would prove to be the game-winner, but Thomas would have something to say about that once again. The explosive Phoenix forward would find himself in another breakaway and get the ball past Eavenson to tie the game with less than four minutes remaining.
While West Virginia tried to make some late magic happen with numerous opportunities and aggressive play, Elon would have the last laugh.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, Phoenix midfielder Matt Wescoe found himself in a breakaway after getting past and chip it over Eavenson for the go-ahead goal to give Elon the lead and the victory.
Thomas – the nation’s leading scorer – was almost able to score his 16th goal of the season in the minute 68 of play as he had another breakaway, but the ball was deflected by Eavenson and hit the post.
WVU would win the shots battle 27-10 and the corner kick advantage 12-6.
Rebounding and preparing for Sunday’s game against Buffalo won’t be easy after this game. With the loss, WVU fell to 6-3-2 and Elon improved to 7-2-1.
"It’s a lot of disappointment," Schoenle said. "We should never give up three goals at home and especially this lead with under five minutes to go. We should be able to kill the game. We have to win all of our games from here on out. This was a big game for us."
Elon has battled hard against West Virginia in the past; the last three
encounters have all been close.
"We knew that going in that they were never going to quit," Schoenle said. "They’re a hard working team and they were going to battle. We just need to be better at the end."
Still, there has to be credit given to the Phoenix’s resiliency and the play of Thomas all night.
"He’s got speed," Schoenle said. "We have to stick to the game plan. Marlon told us exactly what they were going to do and that’s how they got their goals."
Nathan would secure eight saves for the Phoenix. Thomas led the way with six shots, two goals and an assist.
Senior midfielder Uwem Etuk and Bevin led the Mountaineers with five shots. Merriam had four in only 28 minutes.
West Virginia would outshoot Elon 17-1 in the first half. The only difference in the game was that Elon made use of its style of play and the chances they got after pushing the tempo.
"It wasn’t for a lack of not knowing what they were going to do," LeBlanc said. "Everything they did was playing it long in the air, have No. 20 (Thomas) go up and win flicks and headers. We knew what to do and how to react on it and we failed on all aspects. It’s my fault."