Men’s soccer plays UCF in home opener on Saturday

After starting the season on the road, the JU men’s soccer team will come back to familiar territory when the Dolphins host in-state rival UCF for their home opener at the Ashley Sports Complex on Saturday at 7 p.m.

The Dolphins (0-2) are in search of their first win in 2009 after getting rained out in the season opener and falling twice at the Soccer for a Cure Classic in Boiling Springs, N.C.

Fans at the match will also get treated as the first 50 people through the gate will receive a 2008 JU men’s soccer Atlantic Sun Championship t-shirt to celebrate last season’s run.

“I’m excited about playing on our home turf,” said JU head coach Mike Johnson. “We had all week to practice, which allowed us to work on the mistakes that plagued us in our first set of games. UCF is a quantity opponent and our guys are ready for the challenge. We plan our putting forward a solid effort so we can have a chance to get our first victory.”

The second half seemed to be the Dolphins’ worst enemy in the first week of the season.

Against Florida Atlantic, the Dolphins took a 3-0 lead into halftime on a pair of goals from junior forward Nedim Hrustic and a score from freshman midfielder David Santa Maria. Mother Nature interfered with the Dolphins’ victory plans as thunderstorms forced a cancellation of the second half.

JU continued its first half success from the FAU match at the Soccer for a Cure Classic, but Winthrop and Gardner-Webb each scored two goals in the second half to keep the Dolphins winless at the tournament.

Despite the two losses, Hrustic, along with senior midfielders Stefan Runeman and Jonathan Jackson each earned Soccer for a Cure Classic all-tournament honors.

The Knights (2-1) enter the First Coast after knocking off North Florida and Georgia Southern in their home tournament last week. Freshman midfielder Jeff Simmons has a team-high two goals in three matches, while freshman goalie Shawn Doyle has tallied 14 saves and allowed four scores for a 1.33 goals against average.

The matchup on Saturday will also be the 31st meeting between the two schools. UCF holds a 16-13-2 record over JU, including winning the last match in 2004, 1-0.

Fans can also see the match live through ASun.TV by logging onto