THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 08, 2011
Women’s soccer to play two in USF Tournament
Jessica Hurtado scored a penalty kick goal  in JU's previous game versus Georgia State. Play Video
Jessica Hurtado scored a penalty kick goal in JU's previous game versus Georgia State.
Coming off two wins to start the home portion of the schedule, the JU women’s soccer team will try and extend momentum on the road when it travels to Tampa to play in the USF Tournament starting Friday against Florida Atlantic at 4:30 p.m.

JU (3-2-1) has picked up at least a point in three of the last four games, including a pair of one-goal victories at the Ashley Sports Complex last week. The Dolphins will now go up against another pair of talented non-conference opponents, starting with a contest against the 3-1 Owls.

The Dolphins will then face a 2-2-1South Florida squad on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Bulls already have a 9-0 victory on its resume after trouncing Alabama A&M. South Florida has allowed just one goal in the past three games.

“We play two interstate rivalry games, so they know our players and we know theirs,” JU head coach Brian Copham said. “Anytime you play somebody you know, you expect a good; competitive game. It’ll be two good challenges.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Sierra will look to sustain her hot play. The second-year netminder earned the Atlantic Sun Conference’s “Defensive Player of the Week” after posting a five-save shutout against Furman and a four-save effort in an overtime win over Georgia State.

Sierra (.853 save percentage and 0.80 goals against average) has held opponents to fewer than two goals for fourth straight games. Since Aug. 26, the second-year netminder has stopped 24 of her last 26 shot-on-goal attempts faced and has registered two shutouts, blanking Northern Colorado and the Paladins.

“She’s done a great job and a good weekend for our defensive group,” Copham said. “We want to cut down the number of saves she has to make, but she’s been making good saves. Defensively, we are getting a little more organized.”

Junior midfielder Becca Massip netted the game-winner just 2:15 into overtime versus the Panthers. Senior midfielder Liz Fink also scored the lone goal in the Furman win and fellow senior Jessica Hurtado converted JU’s first penalty kick attempt of the season for a goal in the Georgia State match.

The Dolphins will look to find similar results against a Florida Atlantic squad that has held opponents to four goals in four games and just 10 shots per game. South Florida has also been stingy, holding offenses to a 1.40 goals-against average.

That will also put pressure on the JU defense to keep up its stellar effort.

“We need both defense and offense to click,” Sierra said. “We need to work together as a unit both on-and-off the field, and we’ll be successful.”

- By Brian Bohl