DURHAM, N.C. – A pair of goals scored by junior Elijah Agu powered the Elon University men’s soccer team to a 4-1 season-opening victory over UNC Asheville on Friday evening, Aug. 26, in the first game of the John Rennie Nike Invitational at Koskinen Stadium.
Elon (1-0) improved its overall record to 5-1-1 in its fourth straight year at the prestigious tournament over UNC Asheville (0-1). Elon also won consecutive season openers for the first time since the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
In the 25th minute, Elon opened the scoring in the contest as Nicholas O’Callaghan took a shot from the left side that found the bottom right corner of the net. O’Callaghan took a pass from both Will Smith and Marcel Fahrenholz and lined up the shot for an early 1-0 lead for the Phoenix.
The Phoenix continued to put the pressure on as Elon drew a penalty kick opportunity after Jahmeil Curwen was taken down inside the box near the six-yard line inside the 42nd minute. Agu took the penalty kick to put the Phoenix up 2-0 going into the half.
Elon had a 13-3 advantage on shots in the opening stanza with a 4-0 lead in shots on target. The Phoenix also had a 6-1 lead in corner kicks.
Agu added his second score of the contest near the 50th minute. The Cary, N.C., native received a through ball from Jaiden Fortune and found the left corner of the net to put Elon up 3-1.
UNC Asheville took advantage of a Phoenix turnover in the 69th minute for their score in the match. The Bulldogs’ Richie Lee intercepted the pass and went one-on-one against the the keeper, but was able to maneuver around the netminder to cut the deficit to two, 3-1.
The momentum for UNC Asheville was short lived as Elon was able to answer with a goal of its own in the 77th minute. Austin Hill connected on his first collegiate goal off a drop pass from Tuki Tayali, who received the ball on a long cross by Luke Matthews. The score regained the Phoenix a three-goal lead and effectively sealed the game for Elon’s first win of the season.
• Elon finished the game with a 20-12 advantage on shots with 8-4 differential with shots on goal. The Phoenix also had twice as many corners than the Bulldogs (8-4).
• Agu had Elon’s first multi-goal match since Fortune had a pair against Davidson last season.
• The Phoenix improved to 18-25-2 all-time in season openers.
• Elon’s victory over UNC Asheville was its fourth straight over the Bulldogs while pushing its all-time series lead to 8-7-1.
• A total of 18 players saw time in the match for the Phoenix including 10 newcomers.
• Durham, N.C., native redshirt freshman Hassan Pinto played in his first career game while starting at right outside back.
• Tayali led the Phoenix with five shots total. He was also one of five players that tallied an assist in the game for the Phoenix.
Elon closes out the tournament on Sunday, Aug. 28, with a noon match against San Diego.
-- ELON --