SATURDAY, JANUARY 03, 2009
Men’s soccer receives votes in the final College Soccer News Top 30 National Poll
Fans around the nation took notice to the Dolphins’ run in 2008 run as the JU men’s soccer team received votes in the final College Soccer News Top 30 National Poll.

The Dolphins earned votes in the poll after finishing with the fifth highest win total in school history (12-9-1), which included rallies in matches over Lipscomb and Campbell to win the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. JU also rallied to down Louisville in overtime to earn the school’s first NCAA Tournament win.

JU’s second round opponent, North Carolina, finished fourth in the polls in after its narrow 1-0 win against JU on Nov 25. The Tar Hills went on to earn a berth in the NCAA College Cup and would later fall in the National Championship game to ACC rival Maryland.

It marked the second national poll to recognize the Dolphins have been ranked in this season. JU spent the latter part of the year in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America South Region poll ranking as high as seventh.

“This is a great honor for us,” said JU head coach Mike Johnson. “We had a really good year and I’m very happy to see we got noticed for it. Our success this season is a credit to how hard our guys worked. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field again for another run in 2009.”

Also in 2008, the Dolphins had a program-best seven players selected to the A-Sun all-conference teams, including a conference-record five players on the second team.

Senior midfielder Ramak Niakan Safi scored a total of eight goals in the last seven wins en route to a career-best 10 goals and 22 points. Along the way, he earned A-Sun Tournament MVP, all-tournament team, first team all-conference, College Soccer News “National Team of the Week” and NSCAA/adidas All-South third team accolades.

Junior goalie Joey Sanchez paced the Dolphins defense with a career-best 68 saves and six shutouts in 17 matches in goal.