JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University women’s soccer team begins the 2013 season this weekend with its first two home matches at the new Southern Oak Stadium, hosting a pair of schools from the Sunshine State. On Friday night, the Flagler Saints pay a visit for the JU season opener at 7 pm. Jacksonville closes out the weekend on Sunday at 1 pm as the Miami Hurricanes – a NCAA Tournament participant last season – reignites the series with the Dolphins after a nine-year break. Sunday’s match will be available to watch on A-Sun TV at no cost.
Friday’s meeting with Flagler will be a bit unusual, as the Division II Saints don’t open their regular season until September. With that being the case, the game will go down in the books as an exhibition for the visitors, with the final result counting in the standings for Jacksonville. Flagler enters on the heels of a 7-7-3 season in 2012, and was selected eighth in the preseason poll of the Peach Belt Conference.
Sunday’s match with Miami offers the Dolphins a chance to make a big statement early in the season. Though the Hurricanes ended last season at a relatively modest 9-7-4 overall, they earned results against five NCAA Tournament teams, including wins over both Florida and Florida State. After drawing a road contest at UCF in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, a full 110 minutes couldn’t separate the two teams. It took five converted penalty kicks for the Knights to boot the ‘Canes out of the competition. Miami now enters the season with a new head coach, Mary-Frances Monroe, and seven returning starters, including an ACC All-Freshman selection from 2012 in forward Jasmine Paterson. Also back is goalkeeper Emily Lillard, who started 16 contests for the Hurricanes last season and helped the team to a goals-against average of less than 1.00.
While JU will certainly be tested by its two opponents this weekend, the Dolphins present more than a few problems of their own. Two players expecting to play key roles this season for Jacksonville are senior Ally Lee and junior Kaitlyn Bassett. Lee was recently named the Atlantic Sun Preseason Defender of the Year out of her center-back position, while Bassett overcame injuries last season to score six goals in just 11 contests, earning Second Team All-Atlantic Sun accolades and leading the league in goals per contest (0.55). They both showed why they’re so critical to JU’s success just last week when Lee was in the middle of a Dolphin exhibition shutout at Valdosta State, and Bassett drew a penalty kick that scored JU’s first goal before assisting on the second in a 2-0 win over the Blazers. Both took a few minutes out of their busy preseason schedules to jump on-camera and talk about their roles on the team for the year ahead in videos you can view at the bottom of this page.
Jacksonville vs. Flagler
Overall: JU leads the series, 4-0
First Meeting: Jacksonville downed Flagler at home, 2-1, on September 8, 1996
Last Meeting: Jacksonville defeated Flagler in St. Augustine, 5-0, on August 25, 2008
Notable: JU’s win against the Saints in 1996 was the program’s first-ever victory after 16 successive defeats in 1995 and the opening three matches of 1996.
Jacksonville vs. Miami (A-Sun TV; click on the JU logo at the top of the page)
Overall: Series tied, 2-2-1
First Meeting: Jacksonville shut out Miami, 3-0, in a home match on September 1, 1998
Last Meeting: Miami returned the favor with a 3-1 victory over the Dolphins in Jacksonville on September 21, 2004
Notable: The Dolphins and Hurricanes aren’t just tied up in the all-time series. In five matches against each other, the two teams are also even in goal differential with 11 apiece.