David Haba picked a pretty good time to score his first two goals of the season.
Haba connected twice in the first half, leading East Tennessee State to a 2-0 victory over Jacksonville in the Atlantic Sun Conference soccer tournament Wednesday night at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
“It’s really great to score two goals, but to score them in a big situation, a big game ... it’s just perfect,” Haba said.
Sixth-seeded ETSU (10-6-3) will face second-seeded Stetson (10-5-3) in Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal.
In Wednesday’s other quarterfinal, fourth-seeded Mercer rallied past No. 5 Lipscomb 2-1. Mercer (9-7-3) will take on top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast (10-5-2) in Friday’s 4 p.m. semifinal.
As the top two seeds, FGCU and Stetson received byes into the semifinals. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
Haba, a junior midfielder who has been hobbled by hamstring issues, was making his sixth start of the season and he got things going four minutes into the game.
David Geno sent a cross into the middle from the right wing. Aaron Schoenfeld went up to head the ball, but even at 6-foot-4 he wasn’t tall enough to connect. The ball continued through to Haba, who settled it, lined up his shot and blasted it home for his first goal of the year.
Sixteen minutes later, Haba struck again on a similar goal. He took another cross from Geno, chested the ball to his right foot, made a move around a defender and drilled it into the net.
“David has had some injuries here and there,” ETSU coach Scott Calabrese said. “He’s shown on many occasions how critical he is. He has great ideas and he’s an intelligent player. I wish that David Haba could play 90 minutes every game because he was fantastic tonight.”
Both goals came as a result of buildups consisting of several passes. Itode Fubara was in the mix on both of them.
“It was really the team connecting passes, working for each other,” Calabrese said. “That’s how goals are scored. It’s a team game where you have to have 11 players playing in concert.”
Jacksonville (9-8-2) didn’t get many chances, but Henrik Synnes came close with 17:45 left. His header off a corner kick hit the cross bar. The ball bounced back to Synnes, and he headed the next one off the top of the goal.
Schoenfeld had a golden opportunity to put the game away with 12:45 remaining when he took a through ball from Theo Yang and took off on a 40-yard breakaway. His shot was tipped away at the last second by Jacksonville goalie Gavin Carlin.
The Dolphins had beaten ETSU 2-1 during the regular season. ETSU, the defending champion, barely earned its way into the tournament as the final team to qualify for the six-team field.
“We really thought we got the short end of the stick being a No. 3 seed having to play a good team that really isn’t a No. 6 team,” Jacksonville coach Mike Johnson said. “Based on the old rules, we would have had a home game tonight. Instead, we got a road game against a good team. But there’s no excuses. They outplayed us in the first half.”
ETSU goalkeeper Ryan Coulter was called on to make two saves in his eighth shutout of the season. Carlin made seven saves for the Dolphins.
In the earlier quarterfinal, Mercer’s Ryan King broke a 1-1 tie with 8:29 left to give the Bears their semifinal berth. Josh Shutter curled a long free kick into the penalty area from just inside the midfield line and King broke free and cleanly headed the ball past Lipscomb goalie Brent McGee.
Garret Pettis gave Lipscomb a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute when he took a pass from Drew Longinotti and slipped it under Mercer goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh for his 10th goal of the season.
Mercer got the equalizer with 14:51 left when Richie Edmonson settled a poor clearance just inside the penalty area and knocked a shot into the lower left corner.
Each team attempted 15 shots. Lipscomb finished 4-12-3.
Mercer and Lipscomb had played to a 1-1 tie on Oct. 27.