CONWAY – A pair of first half goals and an outstanding defensive performance propelled the No. 19 Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team to a 2-1 win over Southern Conference power Elon in front of 687 fans on Friday night at the CCU Soccer Field.
The win moves the Chanticleers to 4-1-2 (1-0-0, Big South) on the season as the Phoenix drop to 3-2-0 (0-0-0, Southern).
As per the usual the Chants deployed their attacking style of play early and often, leading to Ricky Garbanzo’s fifth-minute goal. A Nick May blast from just outside the ’18 was knocked down by the hand of an Elon defender inside the box, setting up Garbanzo’s scoring strike. The sophomore forward calmly knocked the penalty kick past the Elon keeper for the eighth goal of his career.
Coastal would continue stay on the ball through the ensuing 30 minutes, drawing several corner kicks in the process. On the Chants’ fourth corner of the evening, Justin Portillo launched a perfect ball into the keeper’s box toward the crashing Uchenna Uzo. Uzo rose above the defense and headed the ball home for his first collegiate goal. The score gave Coastal a 2-nil lead and Portillo his team-lead tying second assist of the season.
The Chants produced several additional scoring chances through the remainder of the half, but the Elon defense and keeper were able to keep the white clad Chants from further increasing their leading. Coastal would take the 2-0 lead and a commanding 11-0 shot advantage into the break.
Elon found a bit of the offensive rhythm that produced 12 goals in four prior games in the early going of the second stanza. In the fifth minute of the period (50th minute overall) Elon was the beneficiary of a Coastal own goal following a Gabe Latigue corner kick. Latigue’s kick was sent high into the box where it was inadvertently deflected into the goal by a Coastal defender.
The Chanticleers would steady themselves and return on the attack over the rest of the game.
In the late stages of the contest the Phoenix pushed everyone forward in search of the equalizer. However, the Chanticleer backline and goalkeeper Federico Bertele held strong until the final horn sounded.
Bertele finished the night with three saves, including two in the final three minutes of play to improve his record to 2-1-2. Elon’s Nathan Dean recorded the loss despite coming up with five saves.
In all, the Chants outshot Elon 15-7 and held a 7-6 advantage in corners. Coastal was booked with three yellow and the Phoenix with two.
Coastal returns to action on Wednesday, Sept. 19 in a Big South clash at Liberty. The Chants and Flames split last season’s pair of matches with Coastal taking a 3-1 win during the regular season and Liberty earning a 2-1 victory in the semifinal round of the Big South Tournament.