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ASUN Tournament Preview – Round One

via the JU press release/website, by Nieja Jordan

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For the first round of the 2024 ASUN Championship, the one-seeded Dolphins are set to face the four-seeded Liberty Flames, defeating the Flames in the regular season finale on April 27 in Lynchburg, Virginia. That matchup is in Jacksonville this time around and looks to be another tight matchup. The game is set for Thursday, May 2 at 1 p.m. 

The Jacksonville women’s lacrosse team (8-8, 6-0) ended their regular season with a perfect conference record after their overtime victory against Liberty (6-11, 3-3). The Dolphins triumphed with a score of 12-11 in a highly competitive battle. It was a game of momentum, with multiple scoring runs, but the Dolphins’ top goal scorer, Mackenzie Boyle, secured the win by scoring the final goal in regulation to tie the game and then the game-winning goal in overtime, sealing the victory for Jacksonville.  

Jacksonville (8-8, 6-0 ASUN)
The Dolphins have found a pathway to success after a 2-6 start, winning six of their eight last games, including five straight games in conference play. In April alone, the Dolphins had 68 goals, 92 points, 76 ground balls, and 75 draw controls. They lead the ASUN in shot percentage and are looking to pose a threat for the 2024 ASUN tournament championship.  

Liberty (6-11, 3-3 ASUN)
Liberty is traditionally one of the ASUN conference’s top teams. This year, the Flames opened the season with a slow start, going 1-4 after a tough non-conference slate facing nationally ranked opponents #16 Virginia and #6 North Carolina. Despite the tough slate, the Flames have a winning record on the road, going 4-3.  

Players to Watch 
Jacksonville –Kaila Stasulli is the cornerstone of the Dolphins’ defensive unit and a constant force on the draw.  She consistently marks the opponent’s top scorer, significantly limiting or negating their opportunities. She leads the team in groundballs and is a critical piece of JU’s draw unit, ranking 2nd on the team in draw controls as part of a unit that ranks 11th in the country for draw control percentage. Lauren Ellis is the Dolphins’ strongest two-way midfielder. She ranks 2nd on the team in groundballs and 3rd in draw controls. She also plays key roles in the Dolphins’ women-up offense and situational play.

Maggie Cuddy is a matchup defender with a knack for causing a turnover. She leads the Dolphins in that stat line and ranks 6th in the ASUN. Abby Moran is the Dolphins draw specialist leading the team in draw controls, ranking 2nd in the ASUN and 16th nationally. Brianna Samuels, the lone returning starting attacker from the 2023 season, consistently draws the opposing team’s top defenders. She is 2nd for the Dolphins in points and has scored two or more points in the majority of JU’s conference games, including an 8-point performance against Lindenwood. 

Liberty – Jordan Sheive, an attacker who leads the Flames in goals, assists, points, and shots, is 10th in the ASUN in points per game. Cami Merkel is the second-leading scorer for Liberty one goal short of tying with Sheive for the team lead. Defensively, Olivia Glaze and Katie Colavito are the anchors, leading the team in caused turnovers and ranking first and second in the ASUN. 

In goal for Liberty is Mara Tellers who started the final nine regular season contests for Liberty. The junior is a two-time ASUN Defensive Player of the Week award recipient (March 5, April 16). Tellers made a career-high 16 saves against No. 5 Notre Dame.

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