MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two goals in the last three minutes of the match completed a comeback for Elon as they defeated the No. 18 West Virginia University men’s soccer team, 3-2, on Tuesday evening at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
“It wasn’t for a lack of not knowing what they were going to do,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “Everything they did was essentially playing it long in the air, have No. 20 (Chris Thomas) go up and win flicks and headers. We knew what to do and how to react on it and we failed in all aspects. It is my fault.”
Trailing 2-1, Elon’s Chris Thomas notched his second goal of the match and 15th of the season in the 87th minute after receiving a flick from Matt Wescoe and headed the ball by charging senior keeper Pat Eavenson for the game-tying goal.
Less than three minutes later the roles were reversed and Thomas flicked the ball to Wescoe, who chipped it over Eavenson for the game winner.
The Mountaineers dominated the possession for the majority of the match as they held the shot advantage at 27-10, while also holding the corner kick edge at 12-6.
WVU senior Eric Schoenle scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season in the 55th minute on a downward header to give WVU the 1-0 lead. Freshman Zak Leedom played a short corner to sophomore Andy Bevin, who crossed the ball to a streaking Schoenle.
Thomas notched the equalizer for Elon in the 60th minute as Gabe Latigue played a ball over the head of a WVU defender to Thomas, who got behind the WVU defense and slotted the ball past Eavenson.
Thomas nearly had an identical goal in the 68th minute, but Eavenson deflected the ball and it hit the post.
The Mountaineers took the 2-1 lead in the 73rd minute as freshman Jamie Merriam took a bending shot from 20 yards out on the left side of the pitch that Elon keeper Nathan Dean could not reach as it squeaked under the crossbar. Freshman Majed Osman played the ball to Merriam after receiving a pass from senior Peabo Doue off a free kick.
Thomas led all players with six shots, including five on goal, while senior Uwem Etuk and Bevin each had five shots for the Mountaineers. Eavenson made five saves in the losing effort and Dean made eight saves for the Phoenix.
WVU dominated the first half, outshooting the Phoenix 17-1, including 5-1 shots on goal.
Etuk took two shots in the 18th minute, but had both opportunities blocked by an Elon defender. A minute later Bevin volleyed a ball out of mid-air that Dean caught.
Bevin had another chance in the 25th minute, receiving a centering pass from freshman Ryan Cain that he shot into Dean from point-blank range.
The Elon back line saved Dean in the 39th minute as Merriam took a shot that was cleared off the line for a team save.
The Mountaineers started strong in the second half as Bevin battled for the ball along the Elon goal line and sent a pass to Sebele at the top of the six yard box. Sebele took a left-footed shot that Dean corralled.
The Mountaineers will stay at home for a match against Mid-American Conference foe Buffalo on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 1 p.m. The game has been designated as a “Dollar Day,” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for one dollar each.
For live stats and video stream of the match courtesy of Kroger, visit WVUsports.com.