Men’s soccer travels to Nashville to face Lipscomb and Belmont
Predrag Ivanovic and the JU men's soccer team will face Lipscomb and Belmont on the road. Play Video
Predrag Ivanovic and the JU men's soccer team will face Lipscomb and Belmont on the road.
The JU men’s soccer team will look to extend its first-place lead in the Atlantic Sun Conference with two key road conference games in Nashville, Tenn., starting with a match at Lipscomb on Friday at 7 p.m. local time.

JU will take a four-game winning streak into the Music City, playing the Bisons (3-8-2, 2-1-0) before taking on Belmont (5-6-1, 1-1-1) Sunday at 1 p.m. The Dolphins (6-5-1, 3-0-0) have picked up nine out of a possible nine points to start A-Sun play and have won five of the past six games overall.

Coach Mike Johnson’s team is averaging 1.67 goals-per-game, which tops the 10-team league. JU has out-scored Mercer, USC Upstate and ETSU by a combined 7-2 margin to start league play. Defensively, the Dolphins have held opponents to two-or-fewer goals in the last seven games.

“We’re excited about the opportunity,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of respect for both programs; they’ve been our nemesis for the past couple of years. The games have determined where we’ve finished in the conference, so we’re going up there with a healthy respect for both opponents and our goal is to get the six points.”

Scouting Lipscomb Lipscomb enters with back-to-back 2-1 victories in A-Sun play. The Bisons will be looking to fortify its defense after allowing the second-most goals-per-game in the league, surrendering 1.86.

Offensively, Lipscomb is led by Garret Pettis, whose four goals in 13 games is tied for fifth-most in the conference. Kyle Erickson is also in the top-10 in assists, contributing to three goals. JU is looking to snap a two-game losing streak to Lipscomb. The Dolphins last win in the series came in Jacksonville on Nov. 2, 2008. JU’s last victory against the Bisons in Nashville came on Oct. 26, 2007.

Scouting Belmont Belmont is one of the league’s most aggressive teams, compiling an A-Sun leading 169 fouls in 12 games. But the Bruins can also score, registering the second-most goals (19) this season and just one behind JU (20) for the A-Sun lead.

Fin Notes Senior Darko Karamatic became the first JU player to earn an in-season A-Sun award when the league named him the “Player of the Week” on Oct. 10. Karamatic scored in back-to-back games in wins over USC Upstate and ETSU for his first two goals of the season. Karamatic was also the last Dolphin to be named “Player of the Week” when he accomplished the feat in 2010.

Nick Rodriguez continues to build on a breakout season. The sophomore’s nine points is two more than the next closest teammate. Rodriguez, Stefan Durr and Tyler Williams are tied for the JU team lead in goals with three. Rodriguez also has a club-leading three assists and facilitated Karamatic’s goal just 4:19 into an eventual 3-0 win over USC Upstate.

Sophomore goalkeeper Gavin Carlin is off to a 3-0 start in his JU career with all victories coming against conference opponents. Carlin has not allowed more than one goal in a single game.

- By Brian Bohl