Elon's Powell, Lovitz named SoCon Coach and Player of the Year
For a second straight year, the Phoenix sweeps conference Coach and Player of the Year awards.
Elon University head men’s soccer coach Darren Powell and senior midfielder Daniel Lovitz were tabbed as the Southern Conference’s Coach and Player of the Year, respectively, as announced by the league office on Nov. 12. Overall, seven Phoenix players garnered all-conference accolades, including Lovitz (first team), Jason Waterman (first team), Nathan Dean (first team), Matt Wescoe (second team), James Brace (second team), Nick Butterly (second team) and Austin Dunker (second team).
“It is great to see our players receive recognition from the Southern Conference coaches,” said Powell. “The whole squad has been working hard all year and we are pleased to see some individuals receiving honors from the Southern Conference.”
This is the second straight year that the Phoenix has swept both the SoCon Coach and Player of the Year awards, with Powell being tabbed league’s Coach of the Year for the fourth time by his peers. The ninth-year head coach has guided the Phoenix to a 13-4-2 record, setting a new school record for regular-season wins, while keeping the maroon and gold in the national rankings throughout the year. Elon also picked up two wins versus top-10 opponents, including a 1-0 shutout against then-No. 9 Wake Forest (Sept. 17) and a 2-1 victory over then-No. 6 Coastal Carolina (Oct. 29).
“Personally, it is always an honor to be recognized by the coaches in the league,” added Powell. “However, this award is more of a coaching staff and team award. A big thank you to all the players for their efforts so far this season. In addition, a big thanks to our coaching team of Shane Carew, Jonathan Potter and Taylor Saxe along with the support group of Eric Lengas (athletic trainer), Jayme Pendergast (academic support) and Jessica Prencipe (strength coach).”
A native of Wyndmoor, Pa., Lovitz has scored three goals this season, all game-winners, to go with five assists, for a total of 11 points. He scored the lone goal in the Phoenix’s 1-0 victory over the ninth-ranked Demon Deacons and also converted on the game-winning penalty kick in the match versus sixth-ranked Coastal Carolina. He had another game-winner on Sept. 14, in the Phoenix’s 3-1 win against UNC Wilmington, and a pair of assists in the maroon and gold’s 3-2 double overtime win at Davidson.
Waterman earned his first all-league selection after leading the team in points (25) with nine goals and seven assists. The junior striker had three multi-goal games in wins against UNCW (Sept. 14), High Point (Sept. 28) and UNCG (Nov. 2), where he also had the game-winning goal in the Phoenix’s 4-3 win over the Spartans. The Bloomington, Ind., native is currently tied for the league lead in points while ranking second in points per game (1.32), goals and assists.
Dean also garnered his first All-SoCon selection after recording five clean sheets and helping the Phoenix post six shutouts total. The Liverpool, England, native had six saves in the Phoenix’s 1-0 win versus ninth-ranked Wake Forest on Sept. 17, and had a career-high nine saves against William & Mary on Sept. 20. He was rewarded as the SoCon’s Player of the Week twice this season and made the all-tournament team at the UNCW-hosted Hilton Garden Inn Classic after helping the maroon and gold go undefeated at the tournament.
Wescoe picked up his second career all-league selection after tying the team-lead in assists with seven and scoring four goals in 2013. The senior midfielder scored the game-tying penalty kick in the Phoenix’s 1-1 draw against Northeastern on Aug. 30, and had game-winning goals in a pair of 1-0 victories against Campbell (Oct. 1) and Georgia Southern (Oct. 15). He had two assists in the Phoenix’s 3-1 win over UNCW on Sept. 14, and currently ranks second in the SoCon in assists and assists per game (0.41).
A sophomore midfielder, Brace is tied with Waterman for the team-lead in goals (nine) and is currently third in the league in points (21) and goals per game (0.47) despite starting only seven contests this season. The Hartlepool, England, native had two goals in the Phoenix’s 3-0 win over Presbyterian on Sept. 8, including the game-winner. He also scored the game-winners in the Phoenix’s 1-0 wins against Radford (Sept. 25) and Appalachian State (Oct. 5). He had the equalizing goal and provided the assist on the game-winner in Elon’s 4-3 win against UNCG on Nov. 2, to help the maroon and gold rally from a 3-1 second-half deficit.
A senior defender and team captain, Butterly has anchored the back line of the maroon and gold that has six shutouts on the season, tied for second in the conference. The Cary, N.C., native ranks third on the team in minutes played with 1,740 and had the game-winning penalty kick in Elon’s 8-7 shootout win versus Appalachian State last Saturday, Nov. 9, to help the Phoenix advance to the SoCon semifinals.
Dunker leads the team in total minutes with 1,799 while helping Butterly and the maroon and gold defense ranked second in conference in goals allowed per match (1.05) and shutouts. The Greensboro, N.C., native has also contributed offensively with three assists, including two at High Point (Sept. 28) in the Phoenix’s 4-1 win over the Panthers.