Chants shut out Elon in first round; Wake Forest up next

For the second straight season Coastal Carolina was charged with hosting Elon in the NCAA Tournament First Round and for the second straight season the Chanticleers eliminated the visiting Phoenix.

This time Coastal shut out Elon en route to a 3-0 victory and a trip to Winston-Salem to play the 15th-seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the tournament’s second round. Coastal (19-2-2) and Wake Forest (11-3-5) are set to face off on Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Demon Deacon’s Spry Stadium.

“I was really, really proud of our guys tonight,” said CCU soccer coach Shaun Docking. “We bounced back terrifically after Sunday’s (Big South) final that we lost. The guys really responded very, very well. I think one of our themes over the last week of practice since Sunday was to try and put two 45-minute periods together so that we don’t fade in the second half and I think we did that tonight.”

Pedro Ribeiro turned in his first multi-goal game of the season and Matt Risher added an insurance goal as Coastal blanked Elon to earn its 12th shutout of the season. Moreover, the clean sheet was the first in an NCAA Tournament game for the Chanticleers since the 2003 squad held North Carolina scoreless in a 3-0 second round victory.

Ribeiro, playing in his fourth career NCAA Tournament match, broke the scoreless tie in the 42nd minute of play as he uncorked a blast from the top of the 18-yard box. Mikey Lightbourne ignited the scoring play as he tracked down a ball near the touch line. Lightbourne then dropped off a pass to Taylor Lemmon in the box who slotted it back to the foot of the wide open Ribeiro. The goal was the fourth of the season for the Belo Horizonte, Brazil, native, while the assist was the first point for Lemmon as a Chanticleer.

Both teams earned numerous advantages in the first half run of play; however, the defensive units of both teams held fast. With 19 minutes elapsed in the game, Coastal’s Justin Portillo put a shot on goal that was saved by Elon’s diving Nathan Dean. However, Dean was unable to hang on to the loose ball and it bounced out to the foot sophomore Shawn McLaws who attempted a shot of his own that would be blocked by a Phoenix defender.

Elon clanked a pair of shots off the goal frame in the first half. The Phoenix’s shot off the frame come from Gabe Latigue on the right flank. The ball then deflected away from Coastal’s Mark Petrus, but Elon was unable to find a follow-up shot on the open net. Jordan Smith hit Elon’s second shot off the crossbar with 58 seconds to play in the half.

“Elon has a fantastic team,” Docking said. “The nation’s leading goal scorer Chris Thomas is extremely good. I thought Uchenna Uzo did a fantastic job on Chris tonight and it really helped propel our team to a great win and a shutout win, which was I think pretty impressive.”

Coastal took the 1-nil lead into the intermission, while also holding a 9-3 shot advantage and 1-0 edge in corners. The Chanticleers started the second half on the offensive, earning four corner opportunities in the opening 11 minutes of the stanza.

Ribeiro found then his second goal of the evening at the 58:41 mark on another long-range shot. This time 6-foot-3 midfielder launched a right-footed boot from 25-yards out over Elon’s keeper. The goal represented his first multi-goal output of the season. Eleven minutes and one second later Matt Risher added an insurance goal for the Chants with a sharp header to the far post. Portillo sent a service into the box from the left side of the 18-yard box to the head of the hard-charging Risher.

Elon then sent in extra attackers in an attempt to cut into the Chanticleer lead. However, all the Phoenix were able to find were a few corner opportunities that were immediately headed and cleared by the Coastal defense. Coastal held the high-powered Elon attack to 10 shots during the game and only one shot on goal. Coastal defenseman Uchenna Uzo held Elon’s Chris Thomas, who entered the game as the nation’s leading goal scorer with 23 on the season, to a single shot.

Coastal victory improves Coastal to 6-7-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with a chance to level that record against the Demon Deacons. Tickets for Sunday’s  game at Wake Forest are $7 for adults and $3 for youth (18 and under) and seniors. Children three and under will be admitted into the game free of charge. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the Wake Forest ticket office at 336-758-3322 and will also be available at the Spry Stadium box office prior to the match.

Photo by Joel Beachum

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