By Ethan Marsh, Reporter
Wilmington, North Carolina - The UNCW Men’s Soccer team was confronted with a nationally ranked opponent in the Elon Phoenix on Wednesday night. The Seahawks fought hard, but fell short losing by a score of 2-1. The game was originally planned to take place at Eugene Ashley High School in Wilmington, but was relocated to UNCW Soccer Stadium. The hostile crowd was comprised of UNCW students beating their inflated balloons together to show support for their team. UNCW Athletics helped build anticipation for the game by giving the first 120 UNCW students to arrive a free T-shirt that read “BEAT ELON”.
Head Coach, Aiden Heaney, and the rest of his staff prepared UNCW well for the matchup. He used the tactic of having his backups do exercises on the sidelines just in case to be ready to go in. The coaching staff pushed each of the players to give their best effort on the field throughout the contest.
The Seahawks fought hard against Elon. One standout player for UNCW was Midfielder, Joel Bylander. Bylander was responsible for the Seahawks only goal in the matchup. He was virtually everywhere on the field throughout the night and provided great leadership to his teammates. Keeper, Sean Melvin, also turned in a good performance for the Seahawks by allowing only two goals on eleven shots faced.
Both Elon and UNCW exhibited their physical toughness and competitiveness against one another. This led to some costly penalties for UNCW. Elon’s first goal was off of a free kick at 55:01 minutes into the game. Joel Bylander quickly responded with a goal for UNCW at 56:42. Elon’s midfielder, James Brace, scored the game winning goal in the 64th minute.
This loss drops the Seahawks to 7-3-2 overall and 2-2-1 in the conference standings. This was their first home loss of the season. The UNCW men’s soccer team will next play William & Mary October 17th in Williamsburg, Virginia.