Dream season ends: Armada can’t hold off Tulsa Athletic in NPSL playoffs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Back-to-back goals in the second half powered the Tulsa Athletic past the Jacksonville Armada 2-0 in the National Premier Soccer League South Region final Saturday night.

Goals by Abou Diallo and Titus Grant were enough to hold on for a Tulsa victory.

The result marked the first loss for the Armada this season and the first time they’ve been held scoreless.

Jacksonville dominated the second half in possession and shots until Tulsa flipped the switch. Tulsa’s Diallo hammered in a header after a failed clearance for the game’s first goal in the 69th minute. Two minutes later, Grant doubled the lead as he hit the ball inside the post.

With the win, Tulsa claimed back-to-back South Region championships and will host the NPSL semifinals on July 30 in Tulsa.

For the Armada (14-1-1), they can keep their heads held up high.

Jacksonville finished the regular season No. 1 of 95 in the NPSL while claiming the Gulf Coast Conference Championship.

Armada head coach Tommy Krizanovic said Tulsa played a great game, but he’s proud of his squad all season long.

“They are a tough group to play against, and we wish them nothing but good luck moving forward,” Krizanovic said. “As for my boys, nothing else but to be proud of them, and they can walk off with their heads held high.”

The Armada will always be a “hotspot” for Jacksonville collegiate soccer athletes; as Reed Davis said, it’s an honor to play for the city.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity. Playing for the city and blessed to be in my hometown,” Davis said. “This team has made great progress, and I’m excited about where the future lies.”

Davis, who transferred from Jacksonville University to Ohio State in December, will have a new opportunity and environment in front of him with the Buckeyes.

He does, however, hopes he can play with the Armada next summer if the opportunity presents itself.

“I would love to come back and play a third season with the team,” Davis said. “It’s a great organization, and all the staff has made this team great.”

The Armada reached the finals on Wednesday night after a dramatic finish against Naples United.

Tied at 1-all in stoppage time, the Armada’s Jed Bowman whipped a ball into the box to Davis, who would get his head on the end of the cross and finish the chance to put the Armada ahead 2-1.

Jacksonville would then put the game beyond reach as Giancarlo Vaccaro streaked down the right wing and played a chip pass over the keeper to Marc Birkelund. He would would chest the ball into the net for his second of the night and make the final score 3-1.

Tulsa also had a dramatic finish to advance to the finals, outlasting Laredo Heat in a penalty shootout.

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