ATLANTA – Two days after being on the wrong side of a costly late goal, the Jacksonville University women’s soccer team made sure that history didn’t repeat itself, scoring the first and only goal of Sunday’s match with about seven minutes to go before an extra session would have been needed. The Dolphin defense took care of the rest, playing excellent defense and suffocating any chance of an equalizer from Georgia State as JU came away with the 1-0 victory.
The first quarter of an hour belonged to the Dolphins (3-2-0), who fired six shots in the opening minutes and drew a pair of saves from GSU keeper Brie Haynes. The fireworks from Jacksonville’s offense didn’t make it all the way to halftime however, as Georgia State slowly worked its way into the match and shut down the flow of possession toward the Panther net. JU went nearly a half-hour between shot attempts leading up to the break, and the teams headed into the locker room locked in a scoreless battle.
A reinvigorated Jacksonville squad came out for the second half and nearly took lead in the first five minutes after earning a corner kick and having a shot from Kaitlyn Bassett once again require the services of Haynes to keep the game level. Down on the other end of the field, Sarah Sierra was equal to the challenge, saving three shots from Whitney Ravan within the first 15 minutes of the second half.
As the half moved along, overtime loomed as more and more of a possibility. While the Panthers were applying more pressure in the second half, most of their shot attempts were of the long-distance variety and did little to trouble the Jacksonville defense. For the Dolphins, a significant advantage in possession was failing to give them the go-ahead score as the minutes ticked away.
A substitution at the midway point of the second half might have been the difference for JU on the day. Bassett went to the bench with less than 23 minutes remaining. When she re-entered the game, there were 10 minutes to go but she was matched up with a tired GSU defense. After less than three minutes back on the field, Bassett headed a cross from Lindsay Forrest on goal from 10 yards out. The initial shot was saved by Haynes but not controlled, bouncing away from her and into the path of Bassett who followed up with a shot from inside the six-yard box to an open net, giving Jacksonville the 1-0 lead.
Georgia State made one last push for the tying score, but couldn’t manage it against the steely Dolphin defense. The Panthers only attempted one shot late in the game, which drifted harmlessly wide. Two corners – one in the final minute – were also cleared away, giving Sierra and JU the shutout victory.
Coming away with a victory from a demanding weekend on the road was an encouraging sign for Head Coach Brian Copham’s crew. “The credit really goes to our defense today,” he said.” It was a team effort and everyone played well in that aspect of the game. We put six backs in at different points and they stayed well-organized and limited Georgia State’s dangerous chances throughout the contest. Sarah (Sierra) came up with some great saves and dealt with some dangerous crosses as well.”
Jacksonville returns to the field on Friday night, playing a 7 pm contest at Georgia Southern. After three weeks away, the Dolphins finally make a home appearance at Southern Oak Stadium on Sunday at 2 pm, hosting a Minnesota Golden Gophers team that has burst out of the gates with a 6-0-0 start to the season. Admission is free and the game will also be available online at ASun.TV.