Jacksonville, Fla. – After countless scoring opportunities the first two games of the season, the third time proved to be the charm for the JU men’s soccer team. The Dolphins defeated the Grand Canyon Antelopes, 3-1, Thursday night at Southern Oak Stadium.
“It feels good to win and to get the first win of the season,” said head coach Ryan Pratt. “We felt like we played well enough in the first two games to get a result to fall our way and tonight was just the opposite. We grinded out a win in a game where we really didn’t play our best and there is something to be said about that as well.”
Three minutes into the first half a misplayed ball from a GCU defender gave midfielder Nick Rodriguez a free break to the goal. Rodriguez put the Dolphins up 1-0 after his shot hit the hands of Grand Canyon keeper Joshua Zehring and deflected past him for the goal.
Late in the second half, with Grand Canyon pressing forward for a game-tying goal, Jacksonville was able to counter with the tandem of Matheus Saroli and Ivo Lima. The duo linked up inside the 18-yard box with Saroli netting his first goal of the season past the sprawling GCU keeper in the 77th minute.
Down by a pair, the Lopes continued to battle and pressed to cut the lead in half. In the 81st minute GCU responded with a goal of its own on a cross from defender Ante Spakic to midfielder Gerrit Thomes.
Ball awareness and speed characterized JU’s third goal. Rodriguez scored his second goal of the night on a bang-bang play from freshmen Valentine Murombo and Jack Burns. With 87:28 on the clock, Murombo fed the ball to Burns whose shot hit the bar and ricocheted 20 yards from the net. Rodriguez sprinted from midfield to corral the rebound and boot it in to put the Dolphins up 3-1.
Grand Canyon had more shots and shots on goals in this game than all of JU’s previous opponents combined. The Dolphins can credit keeper Marc Meny and the back line for those opportunities not spiraling in for goals. Meny recorded six saves on the night and left back Juan Manuel Arguedas was in the middle of almost every GCU possession and blocked a pair of shots for the team.
The Dolphins travel to South Carolina to face Wofford next Saturday at 1 p.m.
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