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Soccerhawks return to UNCW Soccer Stadium

Heaney: It's refreshing to be back

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Soccerhawks return to UNCW Soccer Stadium

Lanre Badmus, Staff Writer

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Both the UNC Wilmington men’s and women’s soccer teams endured a long and rough four weeks away from home. They each had to evacuate the town, set up shop in hotels, and played “home” games at neutral sites.

When both flocks of Seahawks finally returned to the Port City for their respective matchups with Belmont and Delaware, there was one common theme on everyone’s mind: “relief”.

“[Our players] are so excited to be home and play on their own pitch,” men’s head coach Aidan Heaney said postgame. “It’s been a long month, so it’s refreshing to be back. I thought the approach the guys showed tonight was really mature and spot on.”

No. 13 MSOC routs Belmont in return home

First up was the men’s game against the Belmont Bruins on Saturday night. Having shown laser focus right from kick-off, UNCW used an Emil Elveroth brace en route to an eventual 5-0 victory at UNCW Soccer Stadium – the match was the first of a five-game homestand.

The Seahawks (10-2-1) were playing their first home game since a 3-2 victory over UNC Asheville on Sept. 9. They started the game exploding out the gates, with three goals in as many minutes to take a commanding lead. Elveroth opened the scoring in the 16thminute when a right-sided cross from senior midfielder Shane Mecham found Elveroth’s boot for a simple close-range finish.

The Bruins’ (2-8-2) luck then turned worse just two minutes later when freshman defender Hassan Ramadan inadvertently deflected an Elveroth cross into his own net. The Swedish forward then turned provider 73 seconds later when his pass off a Belmont turnover found junior forward Phillip Goodrum, who fired the ball into the upper right corner.

Elveroth got his brace on 57 minutes when a quick pass from defender Huntley Munn freed up space for Elveroth to tuck his shot away from 12 yards. Freshman midfielder Tom Isola completed the scoring 12 minutes from time when he steered in a rebound from senior midfielder Ben Davidson.

“It feels amazing to be back in Wilmington,” said Elveroth after Saturday’s game against Belmont. “It’s been a tough month for us, and it’s good to be back.”

Mecham echoed the sentiments of his teammate and coach postgame.

“It’s been almost kind of like an extended preseason for us, not having class and spending a bunch of time together in hotels and whatnot,” Mecham said. “We’ve definitely been looking forward to finally getting back on our home field in front of our crowd, and now we’ve got a nice stretch at home.”

The Seahawks peppered the Bruins goal and lead the shot count 18-5 with 12 on target. Redshirt senior Ryan Cretens and redshirt sophomore Kyle McGovern both split time in goal for UNCW, but only needed to make one save between them. UNCW also led 7-4 on corner kicks.

Blue Hens spoil WSOC homecoming

Round two was the women’s home game against CAA conference rivals Delaware on Sunday afternoon. Despite an energetic crowd welcoming the team back for their first home game since Sept. 2, the Seahawks (8-5, 2-4) had their homecoming spoiled in a 2-1 loss.

UNCW enjoyed much of the attacking play early on, but it was the visitors who drew first blood against the run of play on 32 minutes. Sophomore forward Riley Dixon’s 25-yard long-range shot crept past senior goalkeeper Caitie Broderick for her second goal of the season.

The Seahawks drew level ten minutes later when a corner from sophomore midfielder Audrey Harding found the head of sophomore defender Marissa Vincent, who headed the ball past Blue Hens freshman keeper Kamryn Stabelin for her third goal of the campaign just before halftime.

However, it was the Blue Hens (3-11-1, 2-5) who produced the deciding moment in the 65thminute, when Dixon turned provider for freshman forward Toni Starova’s first college career goal. The result snapped Delaware’s four-game losing streak.

Both Broderick and Stabelin made three saves for their respective sides. UNCW led 9-8 in the shot count and 4-2 on corner kicks.

“I’m just frustrated, and I think all the players are too,” said Seahawks head coach Chris Neal postgame. “I thought our spirit and our energy in preparing for this game was great. But when the whistle kicked off, nothing seemed to go right. Just a frustrating day all around for us.”

Vincent spoke of her goal and the result postgame.

“It was an exciting moment and we needed it, but we couldn’t let it get us too confident,” Vincent said of her equalizer postgame. “We needed to get another goal in and keep getting out. We didn’t connect as well today and we need to come out stronger next time.”

“Everyone still has their heads up, which is a big positive,” said sophomore midfielder Grace Bondurant. “We’re just looking forward to our next match.”

MSOC’s next game is at home on Tuesday evening for a 7 p.m. kickoff against NC State; meanwhile, WSOC visits Charleston on Thursday before returning home to close the season with two home games against Towson and Elon.

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Soccerhawks return to UNCW Soccer Stadium