VALDOSTA, Ga. – Playing
through a weather delay that sent them to the locker room for close to an hour
in the middle of the second half, the Jacksonville University women’s soccer
team used a pair of first half goals to gain control of the contest and hold on
against the Valdosta State Blazers, 2-0, on Friday night at the Valdosta State
The scoring opened in the 13th minute as Kaitlyn Bassett controlled a pass up the right flank and powered her way towards goal. Left one-on-one in the back, the VSU defender was whistled for a foul in the box, giving the Dolphins a penalty kick. Julia Burton calmly stepped up and converted past a flat-footed goalkeeper to put JU up, 1-0.
The Dolphins doubled their lead in the 33rd minute, quickly working the ball from the back third to the back of the Blazers’ net. Miranda Fyfe maneuvered her way out of pressure and delivered a fantastic lead pass to Bassett, who once again only needed to beat one defender to move the ball into a dangerous position. Forced further out on the right this time, Bassett opted for a cross that found an unmarked Jessica Cataldo-Ramirez charging in from midfield. Given time and space to line up, Cataldo-Ramirez drove a ball to the low corner that had the goalkeeper once again leaning the wrong way.
Jacksonville continued to push even with the two-goal edge and rarely gave Valdosta State any time on the ball in the first half. Both shots that the Blazers managed in the opening 45 minutes came from well beyond the 18-yard box and didn’t trouble keeper Jill D’Amico.
As the game neared the one-hour mark, the steady rain that had marked the opening 15 minutes of the second half finally relented, but a lightning strike nearby sent the teams and fans to cover. After a long delay, VSU came out rejuvenated and pressed forward throughout the final half-hour, but the defense and substitute goalkeeper Sarah Sierra were up to the task, denying every Blazer effort. In fact, the best scoring opportunity of the half came from Marie Weckhurst, who pressured VSU into a turnover deep in its final third and sent a shot past the sprawling keeper, only to see it hit the right post.
“I thought the effort tonight from our team was great,” said Head Coach Brian Copham. “We were able to use a lot of different line-ups and combinations tonight, and how they played bodes well for us this year. Obviously you would prefer to not have to wait out a delay like we did tonight, but it was a good test of our mentality and showed the girls that they need to step out and perform like they did no matter what kind of adversity they go up against.”
Jacksonville opens the regular season next week with a pair of games from Southern Oak Stadium. The Flagler Saints visit the Dolphins on Friday night at 7 p.m. The weekend comes to a close on Sunday as the Miami Hurricanes travel north up I-95 to face JU at 1 p.m.