JACKSONVILLE, Fla- In perhaps their most successful offensive effort of the season thus far, the Jacksonville University men's soccer team upended USC Upstate 3-1 on Saturday evening at Southern Oak Stadium. Netting their highest score yet in 2017, the Dolphins have now won three straight matches for the first time since accomplishing the feat on two separate occasions last season, and have outscored their last three opponents by a combined total of 7-3.
"It's good that the players have continued to gain confidence as we get deeper into conference play," Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz said. "You have to take care of your home games in conference play, and that's what we did tonight."
Looking to continue JU Athletics' success on homecoming weekend, the Dolphins began the contest by scoring their fastest goal of the season to-date, a sinker off the foot of Igor Ferreira inside the box in the third minute of play. After winning the shot battle 8-6 in the first half, the Spartans netted the equalizer in the 48th minute, crowding the box long enough for Cam Philpot to strike a ball into the net.
The game's momentum took a swift shift toward Jacksonville in the 52nd minute, as USC Upstate scored an own-goal while trying to clear a ball out of the box, giving the Dolphins a 2-1 advantage. Redshirt-freshman Connar Lufkin netted his first career goal in a JU kit in the game's 71st minute of action, giving the Dolphins the insurance goal they would need to secure the win.
"Connar's one of the most lovable guys on the team," Ruiz said. "He's a warrior, and he's getting better every day. He's the kind of player that we look for, so for him to get a goal really glorifies out team's philosophy."
Despite being outshot 17-11 in the match, JU's offense thrived, while the back line put up a strong showing defensively. Keeper Patrick Harding picked up his third win in net for the Dolphins, compiling five saves in his eighth start in-between-the-pipes for the team.
With the win, Jacksonville improves to 3-7 on the season, including 1-1 in conference play. USC Upstate drops to 2-8-1 in 2017, and 0-4 in ASUN play. The Dolphins have now scored at least one goal in four consecutive games, and will now look to win four in a row for the first time since 2011.
"Moving forward, we have to continue to stay united and figure out a way to get a shutout on the road," Ruiz concluded. "We haven't done that yet this year, and that's one of our goals as a team"
Coming off a successful week of action, JU will now take to the road once again, traveling north to face NJIT on Saturday, Oct. 14 at 1:00 p.m. at Kean University's East Campus Facility.