FORT MYERS, Fla. – Considering the two schools have only been playing each other since the 2007 season, the rivalry between the Jacksonville University women’s soccer team and Florida Gulf Coast runs surprisingly deep. On Friday night, a new chapter was added as FGCU scored an 89th minute goal to come away with a 2-1 win at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Eagles up their record to 6-3-1 (1-0-0 A-Sun) while JU drops to 5-5-0 (0-1-0 A-Sun) on the year.
The action was mostly on the Jacksonville side of the field in the opening minutes of the match. The services of goalkeeper Sarah Sierra were needed three times in the opening 25 minutes to keep FGCU off the board. Finally, after staunchly defending its goal for nearly a half-hour, Jacksonville broke through with the opening goal on the counter. Marie Weckhurst cashed in her second goal of the season in the 27th minute off a feed from Sarah Moghadas to put JU on top, 1-0.
The lead lasted nearly to the halftime whistle, but FGCU was able to knot the match at 1-1 in the final 30 seconds before the break. Melissa Arnold delivered a corner kick that found the head of Tessa Berger to change the complexion of the contest just before the opening 45 minutes were up.
Sierra kept the score level early in the second half, making a pair of saves in the first 15 minutes. The lead could have easily swung back to the Dolphins just past the hour mark, but a header from Kaitlyn Bassett hit the crossbar and stayed out.
The two evenly-matched sides continued to duke it out for much of the next half-hour. Though FGCU produced more shots on goal, the number of scoring opportunities for either side stayed even for most of the match. Following an offside call on Jacksonville in the 87th minute, the Eagles moved forward in search of one last chance on goal before the end of regulation. That chance came in the form of a 30-yard shot from Kayley Clay. Clay’s well-struck attempt from outside the left of the 18-yard box found its way into the upper left corner to put FGCU ahead with less than 90 seconds to play. With so little time left on the clock, the Dolphins couldn’t find the tying goal.
Jacksonville will try to shake off the sting of Friday night’s defeat, taking on the Stetson Hatters on Sunday at 1 p.m. in DeLand. The Hatters were victorious over North Florida on Friday by a score of 1-0 to improve to 3-5-1 on the season. The match will be available to watch for free on ASun.TV.