THURSDAY, JULY 06, 2000
Jacksonville Clinches TAAC Regular Season Title
October 27, 1999
Jacksonville, Fla. - Jacksonville (12-4-1, 5-1) freshman Michael Blackburn ripped the net from 30 yards out in the fifth minute of overtime to defeat Georgia State (6-9-1, 3-3) by the score of 2-1 at the Ashley Sports Complex Wednesday afternoon. With the victory, the Dolphins clinched their third straight regular season Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) title and the number one seed in the TAAC Tournament November 4th-6th. Georgia State will be the number four seed in the tournament which will be hosted by JU.
Prior to the game, Dolphin Head Coach Aleks Mihailovic was reinstated after serving a suspension while Jacksonville Athletic Director Tom Seitz conducted an investigation into allegations of NCAA violations. Mihailovic had the following comments regarding his reinstatement, "It was extremely difficult for me to be out, but I understand the University's position. I am grateful for the effort and support of Tom (Seitz) and I am very proud of my team. I am glad this has been cleared up and I look forward to getting the team back on track for the TAAC Tournament."
With Mihailovic on the sidelines for the first time in six games, Dolphin sophomore Bole Acimovic opened the scoring at 23:32 when he headed home a cross from classmate Michael Raymond. Acimovic's goal was his team leading 17th of the season and 40th of his career, moving him within one of Mihailovic for third place all-time at JU.
Georgia State responded less than five minutes later when senior Jimmy Nardello collected a long pass from freshman Justin Thompson and beat the Dolphins' goalkeeper to the far post. The remainder of the first half was played between the eighteens as the teams went to the break tied at 1-1. A scoreless second half saw both teams miss quality scoring opportunities. The Dolphins' numerous near misses were magnified when Georgia State senior goalkeeper Water Valesky made an outstanding save in the game's final 10 minutes to force overtime.
With less than five minutes of overtime played, Dolphin senior Tony Powell challenged Valesky on a high ball at the edge of the goal area. Powell's challenge forced a poor clear and Blackburn made the Panthers pay with his "golden-goal" at 94:47. In response to his first career game-winning goal and the return of Mihailovic to the sidelines, Blackburn had the following comments. "It was extremely exciting for me, we knew coming into today's game that we needed a big win and it was a real gut-check for this team. We were happy to have coach (Mihailovic) back, and I believe it helped with our intensity. Hopefully today's win will give us some momentum heading into the TAAC Tournament."
The Dolphins will not return to action until the TAAC Tournament semifinals on Friday, November 5th at 2:00 P.M. where they will face the winner of Georgia State (#4) and Florida Atlantic (#5). Georgia State concludes their regular season Sunday, October 31st at 3:00 when they host Belmont.