Men’s soccer gears up for Wednesday’s final non-conference game at Georgia Southern
Ashton Pett and the Dolphins will try and end non-conference play on a high note against Georgia Southern Play Video
Ashton Pett and the Dolphins will try and end non-conference play on a high note against Georgia Southern
Only one non-conference game remains for the JU men’s soccer team before Atlantic Sun play commences. The Dolphins will look to gain positive momentum entering league play when they travel to Statesboro, Ga. to face Georgia Southern on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

JU (2-5-1) is coming off a split on a two-game homestand. The Dolphins defeated George Washington University before falling to UC Riverside. Now, head coach Mike Johnson’s team will take on a Georgia Southern squad that is 5-2-1 and averaging 2.5 goals per game.

After the last non-conference tuneup, the Dolphins will head to Mercer (4-3-1) for the A-Sun opener on Sunday at 7 p.m.

“We’ve been real inconsistent and I don’t want to make any excuses,” Johnson said. “The strength of our team is our depth and we’ve been trying different lineups in non-conference games. We’ve been on the wrong side of a couple of close games. We obviously want to win against Georgia Southern to take a positive attitude in preparing for conference play.”

The Dolphins will look to find an offensive rhythm and build off of last’s week 3-1 win over the Colonials. JU set a season high in goals scored in that game, including a score off the team’s first penalty kick of the season when senior Davide Faga (Frankfurt, Germany) buried the PK shot to put the Dolphins ahead by three goals.

But the outburst hasn’t been indicative of the team’s performance. JU enters tomorrow averaging just 1.38 goals per game. Senior goalie Johnny Foley (Castle Rock, Colo.) and a defense led by seniors Casey Tafuri (Tallahassee, Fla.), Tobias Hottner (Munchen, Germany) and freshman Ashton Pett (Auckland, New Zealand) has kept the Dolphins in games. Four of the squad’s five losses have come by a single goal.

“With our group, it’s all mental,” Johnson said. “We have players who are capable of doing good things in the attacking-third. We just have to be more consistent and go in with the right mental preparation and focus.”

JU is 0-1-1 as the road team this year. Georgia Southern is 2-0 at home. More than half of its goal total has come from the Luigi Clendening-Witt Carlisle pairing. Clendening (seven goals and four assists for18 points) and Witt (four goals and one assist for nine points) have been aided by Hunter Norton’s three goals and Drew Ruggles’ pair of scoring strikes. Defensively, the Eagles have improved in the late stages of games. Georgia Southern is out-shooting opponents, 56-44, in the second half this season.

Senior Stefan Durr (Garmisch, Germany) leads Johnson’s squad with three goals and six points on 13 shots. Fellow senior Tyler Williams (Tallahassee, Fla.) and sophomore Nick Rodriguez (Aurora, Colo.) are the only other JU players notch multiple goals, both recording two through the first eight games.

- By Brian Bohl