JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men's soccer team had an improbable season. The Dolphins started the year 0-7, clawed their way through the ASUN Conference to clinch a No. 5 seed, and did the unthinkable in the league tournament.
Despite the final score in the title game, a 2-1 loss against No. 6 Lipscomb, the Dolphins have indeed left a legacy.
In the opening round, Jacksonville posted a 2-1 comeback victory over No. 4 North Florida and mimicked the act in the semifinals against the top-seeded Stetson Hatters. The end result: becoming the first No. 5 seed in ASUN history to host the championship game and the first No. 5 seed to advance to back-to-back title games.
"The guys have been fighting," said Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz. "We haven't necessarily been the best on the field at times, but we definitely fought our way back to get in some games. We did the same thing today. We were down and fought back. Lipscomb is a very good team but we were just unfortunate to lose the game on a handball PK."
Lipscomb's Eduardo Reza scored the game-winning goal in the 69th minute when he converted a penalty kick after the Dolphins committed a handball penalty in the box.
The Bisons struck first in the 30th minute on a shot by Kyle Smith and held a 1-0 edge through the half until Ignazio Muccilli netted the game's equalizer (61:17).
The All-Tournament Team selection scored his second goal of the season after a quick flick inside the box from Diego Diaz.
In the decision, the Dolphins finish the 2017 season with a record of 6-9-1, and seniors Allan Morgan, Ejiroghene Mrabure, Diego Diaz, Mitchell Hopkins, Cameron Grassmyer and Liam O'Connor have played their final match in green and gold.
"I couldn't speak enough [about this senior class]. They are my first recruiting class. Guys like Allan, Eji, Diego, Mitch, Cam and Liam set the standard. This year was about leaving a legacy, and that's leaving the program better than you found it. Those guys have done exactly that. They are going to be missed but their stamp is left on the program."