With conference play starting in a week, the Dukes proved they will be a contender in the CAA once again this season. JMU was back in Harrisonburg as the JMU men’s soccer team took on Radford with the Dukes looking to pick up their second win of the season. With a wet and slippery Sentara Field to play on, Radford struck first, scoring its first goal of the season. However, that would be the only goal JMU allowed as the Dukes would go on to win the game 3-1 with five saves by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper TJ Bush.
The Dukes have yet to solidify their mentality for the season yet, stringing together a record of 2-2-1. Nevertheless, they’re starting to settle in and become a team.
“We’re getting more comfortable playing the ball with each other,” redshirt senior midfielder/forward Billy Metzler said. “We’re getting into really good offensive and defensive flows.”
Sophomore defender Tom Judge got the Dukes on the board tying the game up in the first half. Metzler scored the second goal of the night for the Dukes, which put them in the lead.
“We have to be resilient,” Bush said. “We have to come back and not get down about a goal, because then we're never gonna come back and win a game.”
This was an important win for the Dukes to beat an in-state team before going into conference play next week. JMU’s win over Radford kept the Highlanders winless, putting them at 0-4. The insurance goal by junior midfielder Fernando Casero put the Dukes up 3-1 to their win and gave Casero his first collegiate goal.
“This game was a good turning point for us to go into conference play with a lot of confidence,” Metzler said. “We’re generating more chances than we ever have.”
A new season means a new team, and with a new head coach the Dukes are learning how to work under Paul Zazenski and his playbook. Zazenski pushes possession time as one of the key factors to winning a game.
“He’s doing a really good job of pressing and turning the ball over quickly,” Metzler said of Zazenski. “An ideology for us is to turn the ball over quickly and move the ball quickly up the field … we feel like we can out possess most teams.”
One of the biggest contributors to JMU’s success on the field is junior midfielder Manuel Ferriol, who last season led JMU in goals (7), points (14), shots (44), SOG's (18) and game-winning goals (3). However, Ferriol is coming off an injury and slowly working his way back to being a top scorer for JMU again.
“I want to get in the feel of things and get as many minutes possible,” Ferriol said. The Dukes will be back on the field Saturday as they head to Philadelphia to begin CAA play against Drexel. Kick-off is a 7 p.m.
Contact Mandy Bartholomew at email@example.com. For more soccer coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.