THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 07, 2006
Balanced Attack

Sept. 7, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In 2005, head coach Mike Johnson boasted the most prolific offense in the Atlantic Sun Conference as the Jacksonville University men's soccer team ranked first in every offensive category en route to a 7-10-2 finish and a berth in the conference tournament. The Dolphins even won their second consecutive Dennis Viollet Memorial Cup over cross town rival North Florida. The only enemy for them last season was not their opponent, but their defense as they were last in nearly every category.

With a core group returning and a talented mix of newcomers, the Dolphins hope for balance on both sides of the ball to help to them earn their first A-Sun Championship.

"Obliviously, attacking is one of our strong keys with the guys we have back, but this year our focus us on defense," said JU head coach Mike Johnson. "We added several new guys that will help us out in the back line. Our hope is to become balanced on both sides with our scoring and commitment to defense. If we can get that to happen, then we can become a championship caliber team."

Returning for the 2006 season is all-conference selections senior forward Tommy Krizanovic, junior forward Anton Axelsson and sophomore defender Patrik Werner.

"I'm really excited for this season," said Johnson. "For the first time during my tenure here, we have a good core returning to build around. We lacked team unity because of our youth last season, but we should have good leadership for the new guys with the group returning."

Forwards

By far the strongest point of the Dolphins team will be led by senior Tommy Krizanovic and junior Anton Axelsson in 2006.

Krizanovic returns for his final season at JU after scoring a team-high 17 goals in 2005. He ranked second in the A-Sun in goals to earn first team all-conference accolades. Krizanovic also ranked second nationally in goals per game en route to his second consecutive NSCAA/adidas All-South third team selection.

Axlesson led the team with seven assists to earn second team all-conference honors in 2005. He opened the year scoring five goals in three games and tallied five assists.

"Tommy and Anton is one of the best duos in the A-Sun," said Johnson. "They have a year of playing with each other, so you should see bigger and better things out of them this year."

Joining Krizanovic and Axelsson upfront is newcomers Sebastian Lindholm, Ramak Niakan safi and Jason Saunders.

Lindholm transfers to the Dolphins from the University of South Carolina. In 2004, he was voted the Gamecocks offensive player of the year after leading the team with six goals and 16 points. Nikan safi comes to JU after spending the 2005 season at Thomas University in Thomasville, Ga. He was also the teammate of Krizanovic at Englewood High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he earned 3A "Player of the Year" honors as a senior. Saunders will see time in the forward spot with the speed and athleticism that he showed at Rockledge High School.

Midfielders

Midfield will be a strong spot for the Dolphins with a new look this season.

"We made sure this position was one of our focuses during the off-season," Johnson said. "These guys are both balanced at attacking and defense."

Among the returners at this position is sophomore Phillip Meyner, senior Bojan Milicevic, junior Drew Lear and senior Greg Roytman. Meyner made 19 starts as a defensive midfielder and scored a goal in the Dolphins 4-1 victory over cross-town rival North Florida, while Milicevic tallied 18 appearances in the back during the 2005 season. Lear can play both sides of the field after his experience from last year and Roytman will provide quality minutes at the center midfield positon for the Dolphins this season.

Freshman Stefan Runeman will be looked up on to be the anchor of the midfield. Eddile Munnely will give the Dolphins some quality minutes out of the midfield after helping St. Ignatius High School in London, England, win three district championships and two regional championships. Sophomore transfer Andrew Vassilo and freshman Matt Hoffman will also add depth for the Dolphins in the midfield.

Defenders

The defense was at times the Dolphins Achilles heel during the 2005 season. Coach Johnson hopes that the experience for the guys returning at this spot will be a positive for them in the 2006.

"Defense is the emphasis on our team in 2006," said Johnson. "With three starters returning, this unit will be a strong point. We have a mix of experience, skill and newcomers to help us become a solid defensive unit." Manning the backline for the Dolphins is sophomore Patrik Werner with juniors Brian Cocciolo and Austin Earl.

Werner is regarded as one of the best defenders in the A-Sun after earning all-conference accolades in 2005. Cocciolo has played in 36 matches in the backline over two seasons and Earl has made 20 appearances. Meyner, Milicevic, Munnley and newcomer Patrick Rundio will log minutes at defender this season.

"The defender position will be vastly improved with our experience and quality," said Johnson. "If we are in the position to win the A-Sun, it will be because of this unit."

Goalkeepers

The goalkeeper spot will be competitive for the Dolphins this season as they have two returning and four talented newcomers in the nets. Returning in the nets is redshirt freshman Joey Sanchez and redshirt sophomore Chris Petrie. Sanchez is the most experienced of all the goalies in the JU program by recording 15 saves in five appearances, but missed the latter part of the season after hurting his hand in practice. Petrie will also battle for time after making two appearances in goal last season.

Leading the newcomers is redshirt senior Chad Comroe. Comroe transferred from Boston University after helping the Terriers to a 2004 America East Conference title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Also joining Comroe is the Dolphins first NSCAA high school All-America recruit in John Mills. Mills led North Central to state championships in his freshman and senior seasons. The remaining goalkeepers are Matt Gilman and local product John Paulsen.

Gilman, a 6-3 athletic goalie, helped Ocala Forest High School to three consecutive district championships and Paulsen is a technical goalie out of Bishop Kenney High School, who tallied 174 saves in 2005.

"We have quality from top to bottom at this position," Johnson said. "Whoever wins this spot will have to become a leader on the team from their position."