Jacksonville Falls in Overtime Opener Despite Late Surge

Jacksonville Falls in Overtime Opener Despite Late Surge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville played host to the Appalachian State Mountaineers Friday night in the first match of the 2018 season. After a late surge by the Dolphins that sent the game to overtime, App State put it away with two minutes remaining in the extra period.

The Dolphins got off to a slow start in the first half and mustered just two shots to App State's four, but Jacksonville keeper Patrick Harding held his own. The senior staved off three of the attempts before App State's Camden Holbrook made the most of a crowded box in the 25th minute for the first score of the match. Dimitris Moraitakis was credited with the assist.

"I thought we were slow going in the first half. For some reason, not enough urgency," said Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz.

The Dolphins found their urgency in the second half as Jesus Colombo rattled off a shot in the first minute that sailed high over the crossbar. Momentum was quickly slowed, however, when App State's Parker Washburn supplied a well placed corner kick that Holbrook again redirected into the net during the 51st minute. "The ball that got served in has to be dealt with better. When it gets into the box it becomes a lottery at that point," said Ruiz.

Things began to look bleak for the Dolphins as they entered the 83rd minute of the contest, still trailing 2-0. Then, following an App State turnover Jacksonville worked the ball up the field until freshman Reggie Nicolas dealt a pass to Ignazio Muccilli, who found the net for Jacksonville's first score of the season. 

It wasn't long before Muccilli was at it again, this time delivering a beautiful cross that was played by Igor Ferreira. Ferreira, the leading scorer for the Dolphins a year ago, caught the goalkeeper off-kilter and knotted things up with less than three minutes remaining. 

"In the second half we decided to start playing the way we want to play… and I thought we gave ourselves a good chance to get back in the game," Ruiz said. 

As time expired in regulation the Dolphins geared up for overtime, where they were 2-0-1 in 2017. In the 96th minute of the match, Muccilli sent a shot on goal that was narrowly saved by App State's Jake Chasteen. From that point on the match became chippy, with three yellow cards coming in the overtime period. 

After a series of clock stoppages due to the cards and a host of players going down with cramps, Holbrook secured his hat-trick and put the game to rest on an assist by Reed Hunnicutt.

"We played a lot of young players tonight, so a lot of guys learned some good lessons, and the heart we showed to get back into the second half and get back into the game. I thought we were the better team from the second half to overtime, but when you dig yourself a hole like that it makes it tough," Ruiz said. 

Jacksonville returns to the pitch on Sunday, Aug. 26 to face Mercer. That match will be played at 7 PM at Southern Oak Stadium, and will be broadcasted on ESPN 3.