NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Jacksonville men's soccer saw No. 5 seed Liberty Flames in an ASUN quarterfinal match Saturday night, defeating the Flames and advancing to the semifinals for a third consecutive season. Jacksonville shutout the Flames for a full 90 minutes, while their two goals lifted them to another postseason showdown with Lipscomb.
The first half saw fairly even play as neither team managed to find a goal. However, each team had their opportunities. The Flames managed six shots to Jacksonville's four, and each team got one on goal. Freshman goalkeeper Matt Levy stood poised in the net, and the Dolphins went into halftime all knotted up.
The first 11 minutes of the second half saw similar results to the first, but Jacksonville would find the goal they needed in the 57th minute of the match when second team all-conference defender Alex Dixon scored his third, and most important goal of the season. The score gave Jacksonville a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish throughout the remainder of the contest.
Liberty attempted five shots over the next 20 minutes, each of which were missed or batted away by Levy. As the clock ran the Dolphins remained stout, even as Liberty attempted three consecutive corner kicks with under 20 remaining. Jacksonville seized another opportunity in the 87th minute and put the match to rest. It was Jose Manzo scoring this time, thanks to a Selemani Baruani assist. With a 2-0 lead Jacksonville was able to ride out the last few minutes and come away with the win.
After 90, Levy had recorded two saves on 13 Liberty shots and collected the first clean sheet of his career. Baruani collected his fourth assist of the year, and Manzo's goal was the second of his season.
"First of all I want to give all the credit to Jeff [Alder] and the Liberty staff, and their team. One of the most difficult teams to play against with two of the best players in the league, so give all the credit to them," said Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz.
"Secondly, I'm just really proud of our boys. We played a complete game. It wasn't a perfect game, but we defended really well. We attacked. We were dangerous going forward. To hold a shutout against two of the most dynamic players in the league is a compliment to our goalkeeper, a compliment to our back line. Now it's about preparation for Sunday against a really good team in Lipscomb on a short turnaround," said Ruiz.
With the win, Jacksonville advances to the ASUN semifinal match for the third time in as many years. The Dolphins will face No. 1 seed Lipscomb at the Bison's home grounds. Jacksonville defeated Lipscomb back in September in a double overtime thriller that gave the 'Phins their first win of the 2018 season. The two teams also faced in last year's ASUN Championship Final. The match will be played on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3 PM.