JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Though the non-conference season had its bumpy patches for the Jacksonville University men’s lacrosse team, the last four tests of the regular season are all Atlantic Sun games, and on Saturday at D.B. Milne Field the Dolphins (2-7, 1-1 A-Sun) passed their first exam with flying colors. A balanced attack with eight different players supplying goals was supplemented by a defensive effort that allowed the fewest goals since the 2012 season finale, and JU came away with a 14-5 win over VMI (1-10, 0-3 A-Sun).
It took a full 60-minute effort to earn the win, but Jacksonville grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the opening quarter. Dakota Rohlin ripped a shot past VMI goalkeeper Evan Windisch inside the opening minute to put the Dolphins on top, and the game may never have been tied again if not for some bad luck. JU hit the post twice in the space of 20 seconds later on in the first quarter, allowing VMI to dodge a bullet. The Keydets then capitalized on the other end, getting the tying goal from Gage Snowbarger with 9:02 to play in the first.
Jacksonville didn’t wait long to hit back. Rob Moore was one of the two players who unluckily found the post on the previous possession, but this time he powered his way toward the goal and shot low, bouncing the ball past Windisch’s right shoulder for a 2-1 edge. The Dolphins were just getting started. Shots from the point from Rob Wertz and Rohlin rippled the netting before the quarter was over, giving Jacksonville a comfortable 4-1 advantage by the end of the quarter.
Rohlin didn’t waste any time completing his hat trick. Following an uncaused VMI turnover on one end, JU raced up the field and scored to take a 5-1 lead as Tom Moore assisted on Rohlin’s third of the day. Two goals in quick succession from Ari Waffle off of Rob Moore helpers made it 7-1 with more than seven minutes left until the break, and David Goldman cashed in his first of the day with 5:39 left in the quarter from Chase Miller to open up an 8-1 edge. VMI finally halted the Jacksonville run in the final two minutes of the half, but Rohlin’s fourth goal of the contest reestablished JU’s seven-goal lead at halftime, 9-2.
Two goals from Mickey Hofmeister in the third quarter allowed VMI to close the gap slightly, but goals from Quint Miller and Goldman kept JU in command. Miller’s goal within the first two minutes of the second half made it a 10-2 game, and Goldman later scored to make it 11-4. The Dolphins took a six-goal lead into the final quarter of play, thanks in part to the play of Pete DeLuca. After a quiet first half that required only three saves, DeLuca made four in each of the final two quarters.
Any chance of a Keydet comeback were essentially ended after Tom Moore netted the first goal of the fourth quarter to put the Dolphins on top, 12-5, with just 9:22 to play. With the defense playing aggressively and taking VMI out of any rhythm, Jacksonville was able to force five turnovers in the final 15 minutes and added two more scores in the last four minutes courtesy of Chase Miller and Waffle.
Rohlin’s four goals were an obvious catalyst for the offense on the day, but Quint Miller equaled Rohlin with four points thanks to three assists in addition to his third quarter goal. Waffle’s last goal gave the junior his first hat trick of the season. Both Moore brothers, Tom and Rob, had a goal and an assist on the afternoon. Defensively, DeLuca ended the day with 11 saves and three ground balls. Scott Cannon had a team-high four ground balls and caused two turnovers, as did fellow defender Charlie Archer.
The Dolphins are back in action to close out the home portion of its schedule next Saturday, facing Mercer (6-4, 3-0 A-Sun) at 1 p.m. from D.B. Mine Field in a game that will go a long way towards determining the regular season Atlantic Sun champion. The game will also be Senior Day for Tyler Black, Duncan Clancy, Will Crenshaw, Mike McCredie, JP Ricker, DeLuca and Goldman. For those unable to attend, CW 17 will once again have the broadcast of the game here in Jacksonville.