JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville University men’s soccer team kicks off its 2013 season this weekend at the newly-constructed Southern Oak Stadium. The Dolphins look to start the season with back-to-back wins as they host the Valparaiso Crusaders this Friday at 7 p.m., and close the weekend against Western Illinois on Sunday at 2 p.m. Friday’s match will be available to watch on A-Sun TV at no cost.
JU opens its season against a pair of teams with strong programs. Friday will be the Dolphins first time meeting Valparaiso, a Horizon League member. Historically, the Crusaders have been a defense-oriented team and will try to limit JU’s scoring opportunities. While VU was predicted to finish seventh in its league, the team was ranked 19th in the country in team goals against last season.
Western Illinois will be another early test for the Dolphins. The Leathernecks are defending Summit League conference champions after defeating the top-seed Oakland, 3-1, which earned the team a NCAA Tournament berth. This year, WIU is predicted to finish second in its league.
This year’s Jacksonville roster appears strikingly different from the past, but there will be no lack of experience on the field. Forward Matheus Saroli plans to make a huge impact with the Dolphins this season. Saroli, who led the Dolphins last season in goals and points, has already been named to the Atlantic Sun Preseason Team. Senior Nick Rodriguez should also be on opponent’s radar. Second in team goals with six last season, the forward will be another vital piece to JU’s success.
Jacksonville vs. Valparaiso
Overall: First meeting this Friday
Notable: Dating back to 2001, the Dolphins are 8-3-1 in home openers and outscored its opponents, 30-17.
Jacksonville vs. Western Illinois
Overall: Western Illinois leads the series, 1-0
First Meeting: September 1, 2008
Notable: The first and only meeting thus far between the teams happened three years ago to Sunday’s game date and Western Illinois was victorious beating JU, 3-1, in the UNLV Rebel Classic.
Copyright ©2014 Jacksonville University. All Rights Reserved.