Women’s soccer plays USC Upstate before potential first-place showdown with ETSU on Sunday
Jessica Cataldo-Ramirez and the Dolphins will try and stay unbeaten in A-Sun play this weekend.
Jessica Cataldo-Ramirez and the Dolphins will try and stay unbeaten in A-Sun play this weekend.
The JU women’s soccer team got off to the desired start in league play. The Dolphins will try and continue that success against the rest of the Atlantic Sun with two more conference games this weekend at USC Upstate on Friday and ETSU on Sunday.

Kickoff against the Spartans is set for 7 p.m. After a one day break, the Dolphins will face the Buccaneers at 1 p.m. in Johnson City, Tenn.

JU (7-4-2, 3-0-1) garnered 10 out of a possible 12 points through the first four conference games, leading the 10-team conference entering Friday. Strong defense and solid goalkeeping have been the keys to the strong start with the Dolphins allowing just one goal through the first 398:52 of A-Sun play.

Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Sierra enters Friday working a three-game shutout streak. The second-year netminder has six shutouts on the season. In her first year as a starter, Sierra has played every second in net and has recorded a 0.73 goals-against average and a .867 save percentage. She has not allowed a goal in the 378:49, dating back to a win over Stetson on Sept. 23.

That goal against the Hatters has been the only goal JU has surrendered in league play. Neither FGCU, Kennesaw State nor Mercer could muster a goal.

“We are looking forward to playing this weekend and hopefully building off the success we had last week,” JU coach Brian Copham said. “It is always difficult on long road trips, but this is a team that has taken adversity and challenges in stride, and it is my hope that they continue that this weekend. We have two tough games and look forward to the different challenges both teams present.”

USC Upstate (2-10-1, 0-3-0) is looking to escape the A-Sun basement but has been competitive, losing to Belmont and Lipscomb by just three combined goals in the past two games. The Spartans are averaging .77 goals per game. But USC Upstate has played well at home, going 2-1-1 in Spartanburg, S.C. compared to 0-9 on the road.

The Dolphins could potentially be playing for sole possession of first place on Sunday. ETSU enters the weekend with a 3-0-0 record. The Bucs have posted eight combined goals since A-Sun play began, making them the league’s most potent offense statistically.

ETSU’s Genna Petersen and Taylor Maxson are both tied for the second-most points in league play with five. JU freshman Kaitlyn Bassett is tied for sixth with four points (off two goals) against conference opponents.

With the highest seed locking up homefield advantage in the A-Sun Tournament, the Dolphins will be looking to stay in contention to host the event for the second straight season. Senior Liz Fink leads the league in shots (24) and shots-per-game (six) versus the league and will try and help JU sustain pressure this weekend against both the Spartans and Bucs.

- By Brian Bohl