JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After two successive games against the nation’s elite, Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse opens its home schedule on Saturday looking to nab its first win of the 2014 campaign against a future conference rival. JU and Bellarmine (1-0) will meet at 1:30 p.m. from D.B. Milne Field in a game that offers a glimpse back as well as a look forward for the program.
When men’s lacrosse began at Jacksonville in 2010, Bellarmine came to town to play the second regular season game in JU program history. A goal from the Knights with less than three minutes to play gave them a 14-13 win and kept the Dolphins from their first-ever victory – a win that would come eight days later over Denver. Fast-forward four years and the two teams meet as future league foes. Bellarmine will join the Southern Conference as an affiliate member beginning in 2015 and the Atlantic Sun will transition to the Southern Conference following this season.
Though entering the contest at 0-2, Jacksonville has played better than its record indicates. Going up against two teams ranked in the top five nationally can have that effect. Tom Moore and Dakota Rohlin share the team lead in goals with four apiece, while Duncan Clancy has recorded nine points on three goals and six assists, sharing the Atlantic Sun lead in assists while playing in one less game than Mercer’s Timmy Geran to this point in the season.
One aspect in which Jacksonville might see an immediate improvement this weekend is on face-offs. Having to go up against elite face-off specialists in Duke’s Brendan Fowler and Notre Dame’s Liam O’Connor, JU is winning less than 30 percent of chances so far. In its season opener against Robert Morris, Bellarmine also had some struggles, coming away with just six on 21 restarts.
Despite the disadvantage on face-offs, the Knights did come away with a 10-7 triumph over Robert Morris on Saturday afternoon. Bellarmine scored four straight goals in the first quarter to take a 4-1 lead and played even with the Colonials the rest of the way. Freshman Tucker Ciessau had an impressive debut performance with four goals, as did freshman Austin Shanks who netted a hat trick. Will Haas made 18 saves to record a .720 save percentage.
“Bellarmine is a very good team coming off a win against a strong opponent that we have a great deal of respect for,” said Head Coach Guy Van Arsdale. “I am anxious to see our guys demonstrate the resiliency I know they have and to come and execute our game plan. As always, creating and finishing good opportunities will be the key to our success. We will be looking to our defense to work as a unit and make Bellarmine work hard for its chances.”
Jacksonville will play its first Atlantic Sun contest next week, traveling to North Carolina to face High Point on March 1 at 12 p.m.