JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University women’s soccer team is rested and ready as the Dolphins prepare to take on the Kennesaw State Owls in the Atlantic Sun semifinals on Friday. The two sides will meet at 4 pm in Fort Myers at the FGCU Soccer Complex, with the other semifinal between Florida Gulf Coast and Mercer to follow at 7 pm.
Jacksonville earned a first-round bye last weekend thanks to a 2-1 win over Mercer on Oct. 27 that was combined with a 4-1 North Florida victory over Kennesaw State that allowed the Dolphins to leapfrog the Owls in the standings on the final afternoon of the regular season. As the No. 3 seed in the tournament, KSU had to face Lipscomb last weekend to advance to the semifinals but were able to hold serve on its home field, riding a goal in the fifth minute from Shannon Driscoll all the way to the end in a 1-0 decision over the Bisons.
The match on Friday will be the second in a span of two weeks between the Dolphins and the Owls. On Oct. 25 at Southern Oak Stadium, Kennesaw State tied the match with a goal midway through the second half, then scored the game-winner in the 104th minute to stun JU. Earlier on in the match, the Dolphins had taken the lead in the 19th minute as Kaitlyn Bassett deftly chipped over KSU goalkeeper Olivia Sturdevant from 30 yards out to make it 1-0. Jacksonville appeared comfortable through the opening 45 minutes of the match, but KSU turned up the pressure in the second half and began to enforce its style of play.
For Head Coach Brian Copham and the team, earning the bye was a rare treat at this point in the season. “This weekend was good for the team,” he said. “Even though we trained to stay on our schedule we were able to give them some down time which is great at this time of year. We were able to rest some players that have small injuries. They have been extremely focused and working hard leading into this weekend’s games. They know what is on the line and have committed themselves to the team goal. It is a fun process when a team like this puts the common goal as their focus.”
Friday will be the fourth all-time meeting in the conference tournament between Jacksonville and Kennesaw State. The Dolphins hold a 2-1 edge in the prior three matches. The last time the two met in the A-Sun Tournament came in the 2010 season, when Jacksonville romped to a 3-0 victory in the semifinal round.
The nightcap on Friday will feature No. 4 Mercer facing the host and No. 1 seed Florida Gulf Coast in a rematch of the conference title game from the past two seasons. Earlier this year, FGCU defeated the Bears, 3-1, in a match played in Macon, Ga. The two winners on Friday will face each other at 1 pm on Sunday for the conference title and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament in a match that will be shown live on ESPN3.