Men’s soccer opens 2009 season at FAU on Tuesday
Junior forward Nedim Hrustic and the Dolphins open the season on Tuesday at Florida Atlantic
Junior forward Nedim Hrustic and the Dolphins open the season on Tuesday at Florida Atlantic
The JU men’s soccer team will hit the ground running to start the 2009 season as the Dolphins play three matches in less than six days starting on Tuesday.

The Dolphins, who is picked to finish first in the Atlantic Sun polls, open the season against in-state rival Florida Atlantic on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in Boca Raton, Fla. On Friday, JU heads to Boiling Springs, N.C. to compete in the Soccer for a Cure Classic hosted by Gardner-Webb. The Dolphins open with Winthrop on Friday at 4:30 p.m. before finishing the tourney on Sunday against the host Bulldogs at 3:30 p.m.

“We are excited to open the season,” said JU head coach Mike Johnson. “It has been a long wait to get back onto the field since our loss at North Carolina. We have lofty goals and high expectations for this season. Our plan is to get off to a good start against Florida Atlantic and see where it takes us.”

JU begins the first week of the season after splitting a pair of matches on the exhibition slate. Junior forward Nedim Hrustic scored both goals to lead JU in its 2-1 win over Tampa on Aug. 19. The Dolphins got a goal from senior midfielder Stefan Runeman in their final exhibition match against Flagler, but the Saints recorded a score in each half to take a 2-1 victory.

Florida Atlantic enters Tuesday’s contest returning 12 players from the 2008 squad that posted a 5-13-1 record. The Owls handed the Dolphins a demoralizing 5-1 loss last season at the Ashley Sports Complex after scoring three second half goals.

The Eagles tallied a 15-6-1 record en route to winning the Big South Championship and earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament - their second trip in the last three seasons. Winthrop returns five starters from its championship squad, including senior forward Matthew Skonicki who scored 13 goals in 2008. This is JU’s first meeting against Winthrop since the 2006 season when the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie in the Wingate Inn Classic.

Gardner-Webb comes into the opening week with high hopes for the season after finishing third during the Bulldogs’ first season in the Big South. The Bulldogs bring back eight starters from the 2008 team that posted a 6-12-0 overall mark and 5-3 record in conference play. Last season, JU picked up a 3-2 win over Gardner-Webb with the help of a two-goal performance from former Dolphin forward Tony Taylor.