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Men's soccer loses against rival Jacksonville University

By: Connor Bussiere, contributing writer.

After a slow start to the season the UNF men’s soccer team looked to start October with a win against cross-town rival JU.  However, they fell short against the Dolphins in a 1-0 loss Oct. 3.

“Obviously we want to not only beat JU, but we want to get off to a good start in the conference, so it is a disappointing night,” said senior forward and team captain Adam O’Neill.

The first half was a tightly contested, back and forth battle for all 45 minutes, with each team holding the ball for about the same amount of time.
Each team’s goalkeeper made key saves time and time again to keep the half close. UNF’s true freshman goalkeeper Tyler Willets made a number of great plays in the first half, including a diving save in the eighth minute and save on a JU penalty kick in the 37th minute. Willets made eight saves on the night tying him for fifth on the single game saves record.
It was more of the same from both teams in the second half.  The tough, physical play from both sides kept the game tied at 0-0, until JU forward Nedim Hurstic scored a goal in the 67th minute.

Willets came out of the goal to make a play on Hurstic, but Hurstic got around Willets and scored the game’s lone goal.

However, the go-ahead-goal for JU didn’t slow down the scoring opportunities for the Ospreys, who kept up pressure on the JU goalkeeper and defense until the clock hit 90:00.
The Ospreys had several opportunities in the closing minutes, but they couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net.

“We had good chances down by their goal and had more opportunities than they did, we just fell behind and when we got good chances we panicked,” said UNF men’s soccer head coach Ray Bunch.

The game had a rapid tempo and was very physical, with 30 fouls and four yellow cards between the two squads.
The Ospreys hope this experience will help make them a better team and motivate them more as the season and conference schedule progress. Despite the loss, the team and coaching staff still have high hopes for the rest of the season.

“Last year we were a top seed in the conference and got a home game, now we just have to improve and build experience and confidence with a young team and I believe we can get there” Bunch said.
With this team, the focus is getting young players experience in close games such as this one. The Ospreys started six true freshmen, and played with seven for most of the game.

“The defense played really well tonight, the wingers were making good crosses just some times the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” Willets said. “We just have to build on the good and use it to get some key victories in the upcoming conference games.”
Not only was it the first conference game of the year, it was the first in the year long matchup between UNF and JU known as the River City Rumble. The rumble is also known as the “Battle for the Barrel” given to the school with the most head-to-head wins at the end of each year.

With eight more conference games over a number of sports to go, the Ospreys look to build on their play against JU. The Ospreys will have two home Atlantic Sun games this weekend. UNF will host Bellmont at 7 p.m. Oct. 8, and Lipscomb at 2 p.m. Oct. 10.

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