DANIEL ISLAND, SC – Hermann Award candidate Scott Jones scored the game’s lone goal as the UNC Greensboro men’s soccer team advanced to the Southern Conference finals with a 1-0 shutout of Elon Friday evening in semifinal action at Blackbaud Stadium.
UNCG (14-5-0) nearly jumped out to a 1-0 advantage just over 10 minutes into the game when Hermann Award candidates Randi Patterson and Jones came inches away from connecting for the game’s first score. Jones dribbled down the left side of the field and played a perfect through ball to the feet of Patterson whose shot deflected off the near post and back into the field of play.
SoCon Freshman of the Year Kiki Willis also came but inches from giving the Phoenix (9-9-2) a one-goal lead at the 20:44 mark of the opening stanza. Following a well timed run, Willis separated himself from the Spartan defense and received a through ball from Tim Sullivan 35 yards outside the UNCG goal. As Spartan keeper Jay Benfield raced to make a sliding save on the ball, Willis managed to fire a shot at the open net, but the ball tailed to the right and over the end line.
With just over 13 minutes left in the first half, Patterson, the reigning two-time SoCon Player of the Year, failed to connect on a point blank shot, blasting the ball 10 feet over the crossbar with no one but the keeper in front of him. Minutes later, however, the Spartans broke the tie in the 37th minute when Jones netted his fifth goal of the season. The Dallas, TX native and three-time first team All-SoCon selection fired a shot on goal from 15 yards out that Elon keeper Taylor Saxe blocked but couldn’t corral. Jones immediately dashed to the far post and knocked in his own shot to give the Spartans a 1-0 halftime lead.
Jones’ first half score proved to be all the Spartans would need as UNCG used its league-leading defense to quiet the Elon offense in the second period. The Phoenix mustered just six shots and featured no realistic scoring opportunities. For the game, the Spartans featured a 15-9 shot advantage, while Elon held an 8-5 edge in corner kicks.
With the win, the Spartans will take on No. 1 seed Davidson on Sunday afternoon at 1 pm. The Wildcats earned their berth in the championship game with a 2-1 win over fourth-seeded Furman earlier in the afternoon.
In the regular season matchup, UNCG and Davidson played to a "no contest" back on October 7 at UNCG Soccer Stadium. With the Spartans leading 4-2, the game was called with 23:51 to play in regulation due to wet and unplayable field conditions. According to NCAA rules, the game shall be declared a no contest if 70 minutes are not played in the match.
UNCG has made it to the conference title game four times (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001) and came home with the 1998 crown, 1-0, over Furman.
1 2 Tot
Elon 0 0 0
UNCG 1 0 1
UNCG - Scott Jones (unassisted), 36:57. Shots: Elon 9, UNC Greensboro 15. Saves: Elon 5 (Taylor Saxe 5), UNC Greensboro 4 (Jay Benfield 3; TEAM 1).
- UNCG -