Women’s soccer ends regular season with 2-1 win over UNF
Liz Fink added an assist on Senior Night to help JU defeat UNF. Play Video
Liz Fink added an assist on Senior Night to help JU defeat UNF.
Two substitutes scored goals for the JU women’s soccer team, allowing the Dolphins to surge to an early lead in a 2-1 victory over cross-town rival UNF in a SunTrust River City Rumble matchup on Friday night at the Ashley Sports Complex.

Freshman Kaitlyn Bassett and junior Eva Leeper scored off the bench to help the Dolphins enter the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament on a three-game winning streak. Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Sierra posted three saves as JU (11-5-2 overall) ended the regular season 7-1-1 in league play. UNF fell to 8-9-2 and 4-4-1.

The Dolphins earned 22 out of a possible 27 points against conference competition and improved to 7-0 at home. Depending on how the rest of A-Sun play unfolds, the Dolphins could earn a top-two seed and a first-round bye. A first-place showing would also allow JU to host the championships.

“I thought they came out with a great energy in front a high-energy homecoming-weekend crowd,” JU coach Brian Copham said. “We’re really starting to play the way we want to. But we’re not done yet. We need to continue to progress over the next couple of weeks.”

JU jumped to a strong first-half start, building a 9-3 edge in shots before halftime. Bassett opened the scoring 29:56 in, drilling a rebound attempt from about eight yards in front of the left post. The freshman forward picked up her team-leading seventh goal of the year.

Leeper extended that edge to 2-0 in the 53rd minute, taking Liz Fink’s pass and sending a long-distance shot from the top-left side of the box. But the high-velocity shot crept past UNF goalkeeper Megan Dorsey (six saves) for Leeper’s second goal of the campaign.

But a fast UNF squad made the final 10 minutes a nerve-wracking affair. Michele Larrinaga broke Sierra’s bid for her eighth shutout when she slammed home Lauren Hopfensperger’s crisp crossing pass near the right post for an 85th-minute goal. UNF out-shot JU in the second half, 12-5, but Sierra made two of her three saves in the final 45 minutes to improve to six games over .500 on the season.

Before the game, the Dolphins honored four seniors before their final scheduled home game. Fink, Jessica Hurtado, Kelli Brougham and Susanne Klungtveit all received flowers and had their career accomplishments read to the crowd. Fink, who was playing in her 80th career game, earned a point in front of more than 300 home fans and Brougham made her first start of the season. The senior class has posted more than 40 victories and the Dolphins are 15 games above .500 during the last four years.

“The senior class has been a great group and have contributed so much to this program,” Copham said. “It’s one of the winningest classes we’ve had in a long time. The commitment they’ve put in has made them special.”

Copham’s team had the honor of being victorious in the opening game in the River City Rumble between the Dolphins and the Ospreys. JU has won the Old Wooden Barrel the last three seasons, taking home the trophy that goes to team with the most victories in the rivalry.

- By Brian Bohl