JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Armada keep rolling along in the National Premier Soccer League playoffs.
The Armada claimed the Gulf Coast conference title Sunday night as they defeated the Southern States SC 3-2 at Episcopal School of Jacksonville. The win sends the top-seeded Armada on to a Wednesday home game against No. 4 seed Naples United FC in the NPSL South Region semifinals. A win there would put Jacksonville in the region final on Saturday.
A championship game Sunday almost didn’t happen as poor weather affected the NPSL contest.
After nearly two and half hours of thunderstorms and pouring rain, the championship match kicked off.
This was the third time the two have squared off against each other this season. The Armada completed the regular season sweep against the States, but their third contest was a battle.
It was a back, and forth chippy game, as over five yellow cards were given.
Both sides had multiple chances in the first half, but Southern States struck first in the 33rd minute off a set piece.
The Armada almost equalized with an opportunity of their own to end the first half but were denied by the goalkeeper
Jacksonville almost with the set piece equalizer but was denied.— Kole Emplit (@KoleEmplit) July 18, 2022
Southern States lead the Armada 1-0 after 45. pic.twitter.com/ZML7UkxSYa
The second half was a different story for the Armada, scoring back-to-back goals to take the lead.
In the 55th minute, Jacksonville’s Cole Reasonover put a long shot past the keeper for a goal to even up the match.
They quickly followed up with Giancarlo Vaccaro forcing the keeper to make a mistake and putting away the chance for the Armada’s second goal of the evening to take the advantage.
In the blink of an eye, Armada take the lead.— Kole Emplit (@KoleEmplit) July 18, 2022
Miscommunication by Southern States leads to a Giancarlo Vaccaro goal.
2-1 Armada. pic.twitter.com/PYJWkXchdZ
Head coach Tommy Krizanovic said his guys needed to react like they did all year.
“We talked all year long about how we react and our identity,” Krizanovic said. “Being down forced us to react.”
In stoppage time to seal the game, Alex Smith made a streaking run down the wing and put the ball into the back of the net for a goal to ice the game.
“The first goal was important as it got us right back in the game,” Krizanovic said. “We remembered what we do best, and that’s to score goals.”
Southern States managed to get a goal in extra time, but it was too late as the Armarda came away victorious.
The 2022 NPSL Gulf Coast Conference champions, Jacksonville Armada, lift the trophy. pic.twitter.com/JpFcgX6pm9— Kole Emplit (@KoleEmplit) July 18, 2022
The win marked 13 straight for Jacksonville, as they proved they were the most dominant team all season long.