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Elon men's soccer falls to No. 1 UCLA in NCAA tournament

The Phoenix traveled to Los Angeles to take on UCLA in the second round of the NCAA tournament and fell 4-0 to the top-ranked Bruins.

Elon senior Daniel Lovitz works around a UCLA defender in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Los Angeles – The Elon University men's soccer team saw its season come to an end on Sunday, Nov. 24, at the hands of UCLA in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The No. 1-seeded Bruins defeated the Phoenix, 4-0, at its home pitch at Drake Stadium.

> See photos from the Elon Phoenix Facebook page.

Elon (15-5-3) saw its historic season come to an end, as the Phoenix could not overcome a 3-0 deficit in the first half against the Bruins (12-3-4), who move on to the third round with a matchup against UConn.

UCLA scored the first goal of the match in the 12th minute of action. Victor Chavez connected on a shot from the left corner up close to put the Bruins up 1-0 early in the first half.

The Bruins added to their lead 10 minutes later on a Joe Sofia strike. The senior defender finished off a shot from the right side on a corner kick to push UCLA's advantage to 2-0.

Another score in the 30th minute by UCLA's Aaron Simmons gave the Phoenix a 3-0 hole in the first half. Simmons scored on a header after downing a free kick to give the Bruins a three-score cushion.

Elon's James Brace had the Phoenix's best opportunity for a goal in the first half. The sophomore was able to play a ball on a rebound within the box in the 32nd minute, but a Bruin defender was able to block the ball.

In the 42nd minute, Brace almost got one past UCLA goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr., but the netminder was able to corral it to protect the lead. The match would go into the half with the score at 3-0.

Elon trailed slightly at the half in shots, 5-4, with two coming on goal. The Phoenix had one more corner attempt in the opening stanza than the Bruins, 2-1.

The Phoenix was the more aggressive team at the beginning of the second half. During the 47th minute, Myles Mansfield had a shot in the box blocked by the Bruins defense and had another look by Charles Howard from 15 yards that went high.

UCLA added another goal in the 53rd minute as Chavez headed in his second goal of the contest. Chavez managed to beat the maroon and gold defense and took a cross from Leo Stolz to move the Bruins up 4-0. It was the third assist of the match for Stolz.

At the 58th and the 60th minutes, Elon's Jason Waterman had a couple of chances to put Elon's first score on the board, but both times Edwards was there to deny him.  

UCLA continued the provide pressure to the Phoenix back four, but the maroon and gold defense stepped up to the challenge. In the 69th minute, Gabe Zerboni raced down the pitch for a shot, but the defense forced him to take a difficult attempt that went wide. Zerboni again took a shot in the 74th minute, but Elon keeper Nathan Dean made the save.

The Bruins did a good job of containing the maroon and gold offense and limited the Phoenix to three shots in the final 10 minutes with none coming on frame.

The Phoenix ended the match outshooting the Bruins, 12-9. Elon also dominated in corners, 6-2, but could not convert a set piece into an offensive score.
The loss ended a 2013 campaign that had many highlights, including the program's first-ever advancement in the NCAA Tournament. The Phoenix claimed its third straight Southern Conference Tournament title and witnessed head coach Darren Powell becoming the program's all-time career leader in wins.
The Elon five-man senior class of Mark Berlin, Nick Butterly, Howard, Lovitz and Matt Wescoe will go down as the winningest class in school history with 47 victories over the last four years.

Philip Jones,
11/25/2013 3:25 AM