JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When two crosstown rivals get together, you can throw the records out the window. Such was the case on Friday night at Southern Oak Stadium, as the Jacksonville University women’s soccer team was presented with a challenge from the visiting North Florida Ospreys. Going by previous results entering the night, UNF was seemingly overmatched, yet the Ospreys managed to knot the score at 1-1 early in the second half. It took a surge from the Dolphins (7-5-0, 2-1-0 Atlantic Sun) that resulted in two goals in the space of 10 minutes to finally subdue North Florida (3-8-2, 0-3-0 A-Sun) and secure three important points in the league race with a 3-1 victory. The win was the fifth for Jacksonville in its last six meetings with UNF, with a tie last season as the only blemish on its otherwise perfect mark.
The opening minutes of the match were fairly even, with each team getting good scoring opportunities. For Jacksonville, a corner taken 15 minutes into the match resulted in consecutive shots, one by Marie Weckhurst which was blocked, and another by Sarah Moghadas which resulted in a save from UNF keeper Megan Dorsey. On the other side of the field, Jill Holdsworth sent a free kick in the 12th minute just over the bar, and later headed a shot toward goal that was saved by Sarah Sierra in the 19th minute.
The stalemate was broken by Miranda Fyfe just short of the half-hour mark. The Ospreys struggled to clear the ball on their side of the field, and the ball ended on the foot of Fyfe. Given space, the JU defender sent a swerving shot towards Dorsey that took a hop just before it reached her, bouncing over the top of the goalkeeper as she dove low to put the Dolphins up, 1-0.
The score would remain there until halftime, but UNF responded quickly out of the break, scoring the tying goal in the 47th minute. Thea Linkfield netted her team-leading fourth goal of the season as Carolina Lencina dribbled through a crowd in front of the JU net, only to see her final touch land heavy. Fortunately for the Ospreys, Linkfield was in the right place at the right time, skidding a shot into the bottom right corner to make it 1-1.
Jacksonville wasted no time in getting the lead back, finding the game-winning goal just five minutes later. For the third time this year, the clincher came from Moghadas as she poked the ball home from close range after a JU corner. Joy Grove and Julia Burton alertly restarted play as UNF gave the pair plenty of room to work on a corner kick. Grove touched the ball in to Burton, then received a pass back and dribbled towards goal before delivering a cross that needed just a single touch to give the Dolphins a 2-1 lead.
The game was all but put away in the 57th minute when Jessica Cataldo-Ramirez accepted a pass in the middle of the final third, then weaved her way past a series of defenders before unleashing a wicked shot into the upper left corner of the net, grazing the crossbar on the way past Dorsey to make it a 3-1 contest.
In the 71st minute, Moghadas was robbed of a second goal by a fantastic diving save from Dorsey that easily could have made it 4-1. The sophomore midfielder controlled the ball on the left side of the UNF 18-yard box, spun a defender, then turned and fired a shot bound for the roof of the net, only to see it punched clear by Dorsey to keep the Ospreys within range. North Florida threw numbers forward in the late stages, but of its 11 shots in the final 20 minutes, four were blocked by JU defenders and another three were saved by Sierra.
Matched up with its travel partner this weekend, Jacksonville is off on Sunday. The Dolphins return to action with a pair of home matches next weekend at Southern Oak Stadium, hosting Lipscomb on Friday at 7 pm and Northern Kentucky on Sunday at 2 pm.