Jacksonville Sports Day

SOCCER: JU Men Fall to UCF 3-2

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The rain would not go away and despite what the box score read, neither did the Jacksonville University men’s soccer team. In its midweek nonconference finale, Jacksonville invited UCF to Southern Oak Stadium where it put forth a strong showing but fell, 3-2.
Allan Morgan and Ejiroghene Mrabure scored for JU while Matias Pyysalo had an impact on all three of UCF’s scores with a goal and a pair of assists registered on the night.
“We’re getting tested all the time but we’re battling back,” said Head Coach Mauricio Ruiz. “We’re still making individual mistakes but for the third game in a row we were the better team. We’re just not finding a way to get the result.”
There was plenty of action in the first 10 minutes of play and much of the momentum sided with the Dolphins. The home team recorded two shots and earned a corner kick but it was the Knights who took the early lead on a shot by Hadji Barry (11:45).
The Dolphins evened the score at 1-1 after a foul outside the box led to a free kick. On a bit of trickery, both Juan Manuel Arguedas and Morgan lined up to take the kick but it was the latter who buried the 15-yard shot.
In what may have been the play of the match, Patrick Harding stonewalled a UCF penalty kick at the 36:47 mark as he leapt to the left to stop Pyysalo from scoring.
The Knights, however, tacked on another goal just before halftime to stretch their advantage to 2-1.
Coming out of the break, after assisting on the first two goals, Pyysalo scored one of his own in the 51st minute.
Twenty-five minutes later, the Dolphins again found the back of the net when Mrabure ran through the box to connect on a cross from Wayne Campbell. With that goal, he now leads the team with three on the season.
“Our guys are growing,” continued Ruiz. “Eji and Allan and a bunch of our returners are fitter, stronger and more intelligent. Those two just keep combining the right way. There is a great chemistry between them and they keep putting up numbers.”
Each side recorded one shot in the final 15 minutes, neither on target.
Jacksonville visits the defending Atlantic Sun champions, Florida Gulf Coast, next Wednesday in its first conference match of the season.
“We don’t have a choice but to keep going. The guys are all in. We’ll show up tomorrow and get back to work. We are in a much better position entering conference now than we were last year.

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