JU men’s soccer heading to NCAA tournament after upset win in ASUN finals

After being saved by the rain, Jacksonville University’s men’s soccer team is heading to the NCAA tournament following a 2-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast in the ASUN conference finals.

Connar Lufkin scored both goals Sunday for the Dolphins. The first coming in the 60th minute, the second coming just seven minutes later.

The final was scheduled to be contested on Saturday in Jacksonville, and the game began at JU. Florida Gulf Coast jumped out to a 2-0 lead before lightning in the area forced the game to be paused just after halftime. Then the rains came forcing the championship to be declared a no-contest under NCAA rules and it was moved to Sunday in DeLand, where a dry field was available at Stetson University.

The stats from the first game were wiped clean and the game was restarted.

With the win, JU qualifies for the NCAA tournament, scheduled to begin April 29. JU will find out their first-round opponent Monday during the selection show.

“If it’s any indication of the kind of level of love and attention...reaching out from the alumni and our administration that I’ve been getting last, two hours here,” said head coach Mauricio Ruiz. “You know because I’m not a very popular guy and my phone was heating up with just messages of gratitude, and congratulations to the boys into the program, from all sorts of people that we know, always watch the program, but kind of keep their distance one way or another. The outpouring of support this last hour, that’s really come through, it’s been overwhelming. It’s been really humbling to know that that many people care.”

Ruiz said that he, his staff and his team relied on the ability to adapt that was put to the test during the pandemic. They didn’t know where they were playing until this morning. Then, when they arrived at Stetson, they were told game time had been moved up nearly half an hour.

“We know that coming back from the fall, when our season, there’s no ruling on the fall season until a couple of weeks before the players reported for preseason in early August, late July,” Ruiz said. “So that’s the message that we’ve been using. Keep rolling with the punches, we keep adapting, we know nothing is promised.”