The JU men’s soccer team is peaking at the right time of the season, winning two out of its last three matches to qualify for the sixth and final spot in the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament. The Dolphins defeated UNF 5-1 Saturday night to earn their third conference win of the season.
In what was a must-win game for JU, the Dolphins came ready to play from the opening whistle and finished the regular season with a strong performance and the win over their cross-town rivals. JU had to win in order to jump Stetson in the standings and qualify for the final spot in the tournament.
The Dolphins got on the board early in the first half with a goal from junior forward Nick Rodriguez. In the 15th minute, Rodriguez received a pass from fellow forward Matheus Saroli, took two touches and then fired a blast from 12 yards out and past the Osprey keeper to go up 1-0.
JU would double its lead 15 minutes later when Saroli would score the first of his two goals on the night. Like he has done so all season, Saroli scored in impressive fashion firing a shot from 25 yards out that found the back of the net. The goal marked Saroli’s sixth on the season.
The Ospreys showed signs of life coming out of halftime and scoring just five minutes into the second period to cut the Dolphin lead in half.
The Dolphins however would respond as they were able to draw a foul in the box less than ten minutes later. Saroli converted the penalty kick to put JU back up by two.
The JU offense then exploded for two more goals to match its season high of five goals in a game.
Freshman forward Rene Reyes scored the Dolphins’ fourth goal in the 74th minute. Not to be outdone by Saroli, Reyes fired an equally deep shot from well outside the box that found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season and fourth in conference play.
Minutes later fellow freshman forward Roshoir Elliott capped of the win with his second goal of the season off of a pass from freshman Gavin Craig.
Jacksonville (4-12-1, 3-5-0 A-Sun) will now turn its attention to the postseason and next week’s conference tournament. The Dolphins will face the #3 seed East Tennessee State Bucs on Wednesday in Fort Myers, Florida. JU fell to the Bucs 2-1 in their meeting earlier this season as ETSU was able to score the decisive goal with less than a minute left in the second period. Fans interested in attending the game or following along online can check later as details are released.