SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Jacksonville women’s soccer team entered the weekend as hot as any team in the Atlantic Sun, winners of four in a row. Thanks to eight saves from USC Upstate goalkeeper Sarah Plantz, the Dolphins will have to start a new streak. A foul in the box in the first half led to a goal off a penalty kick and Plantz did the rest for the Spartans, leading her team to a 1-0 win over JU on Friday night.
The Dolphins played the vast majority of the match in the Spartan end, as evidenced by a 22-3 shot advantage on the night. Jacksonville also had eight corners to only one for Upstate. With such a lopsided edge in shots, the Spartans were forced early on to pack it in on defense and hope for a counter. After a long spell of possession for JU, that chance came at the half-hour mark and the Spartans were ready to pounce. A pass intercepted at midfield was played forward to Rachel Carr, who dribbled towards the Jacksonville goal and was brought down in the box. Rebecca Sanzsole stepped up to take the subsequent penalty and cashed it in for her first goal of the season to put Upstate on top.
Normal service resumed after that, with the Dolphins going into the break with 11 shots to two for the Spartans. Still, Plantz made five saves in the first 45 minutes to keep Jacksonville scoreless.
In the second half, Upstate’s opportunities to break out of its zone became even fewer, with the defense content to set up in the box and let the clock run down. The best chance for the Dolphins in the second half came just after an hour, when Marie Weckhurst forced a diving save from Plantz that could have knotted the score. Though Jacksonville continued to dominate the ball and pressed forward throughout the half, that ended up being the final save of the night for Plantz. JU would attempt seven more shots on the night but none of them ended on frame.
“I was disappointed with our mentality tonight,” said Head Coach Brian Copham. “We knocked the ball around well at times, and even created some good chances. Unfortunately, we have to have a stronger commitment to get the result that we want than we did tonight. We need our attacking players to step up and take more responsibility in front of goal.”
Kaitlyn Bassett and Joy Grove each ended the night with four shots, two of them requiring a save. Weckhurst, Miranda Fyfe and Jessica Cataldo-Ramirez each had three shots apiece.
Jacksonville – which hasn’t allowed a goal in the run of play for 313 minutes and counting – will look to salvage the weekend trip north on Sunday, taking on the East Tennessee State Buccaneers at 1 pm. The match will once again be live on ASun.TV.