Ranked 10th in the South Atlantic Region poll, the Fighting Camels (3-0-1) are off to the program's best start since the 1988 squad won its first seven matches.
Trailing by a 1-0 margin at half-time, Campbell reversed the advantage with three strikes over the first 15:35 of the second half.
"It was a hard-fought match," said Campbell head coach Steve Armas. "Credit goes to Hartford for coming out and playing really hard. I'm amazed by our guys and their resiliency. There are spots where we play well and spots where we are still trying to figure it out. I was happy to see our guys respond to the deficit, coming out early in the second half and capitalize on an opportunity."
Elder equalized in the 47th minute off a long serve from Mitchell Cardenas. Cardenas put the Camels in front in the 57th minute with his first goal of the year off Justin Franz' cross.
Elder again found the net when he scored off Ben Iiames' rebounded header at 60:35 for a 3-1 advantage. The goal was the team-leading fourth of the year for Elder, a sophomore transfer who scored twice in a 4-2 victory over UNC Wilmington 10 days ago on the same field.
However, Hartford drew within 3-2 in the 67th minute after Iiames was cautioned for a foul in the box. Rohan Roye converted the penalty kick to cut the margin to one goal.
Campbell keeper Ryan Amons steered away one final threat by the Hawks (1-4-0) in the 90th minute when he saved a shot from Aleko Petridis. The Camels cleared the ensuing corner kick to secure their second come-from-behind victory of the season.
Hartford finished with a slight 13-12 edge in shots, but Campbell had seven on target, compared to six for the Hawks. Amons and Hartford keeper Hartford keeper Luke Citriniti each finished with four saves.
The Hawks took the lead in the 28th minute when Panama national team member Jorge Rodriguez finished in the box after a long throw-in and flick.
Campbell forced Citriniti to make a pair of saves in the opening period on shots from Brian Urioste in the 17th minute and Mitchell Cardenas (38th).
Both teams had two shots on goal in the first 45 minutes, while Hartford held a 6-4 edge in overall shots and took three corners to none for the Camels during the same span.
Campbell returns home to face Elon Wednesday in a 7:00 p.m. kick-off at the Eakes Athletic Complex.
"We're excited about what lies ahead with some very tough in-state opponents coming up," said Armas. "Hopefully we'll gain from our experiences in these very tough matches going forward."
Campbell 3, Hartford 2 (UNCW adidas Classic)
Hartford (27:58) Jorge Rodriguez (Anthony Santaga, Patrick Boucher assists)
Campbell (46:39) J.J. Elder (Mitchell Cardenas)
Campbell (56:50) Mitchell Cardenas (Justin Franz)
Campbell (60:35) Elder (Ben Iiames)
Hartford (66:42) Rohan Roye (penalty kick)
Shots: Hartford 13, Campbell 12
Shots on Goal: Hartford 6, Campbell 7
Saves: Hartford (Luke Citriniti) 4, Campbell (Ryan Amons) 4
Corner Kicks: Hartford 4, Campbell 2
Fouls: Hartford 17, Campbell 12
Offside: Hartford 1, Campbell 3
Yellow Cards: Hartford – Jorge Rodriguez (34:31); Campbell – Ben Iiames (66:42)
Records: Hartford 1-4-0, Campbell 3-0-1