JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It came down to the goalkeepers in penalty kicks and Jacksonville’s Nick Rulle got the better of Miami United’s Peterson Occenat to give the Armada the win in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup Thursday at UNF’s Hodges Stadium.
The Armada had not played in the U.S. Open Cup since 2018, but returned some players from the early years, including Jamal Johnson, who scored the first goal in Armada history, and Charles Eloundou. Former UNF star Jay Bolt was also in the starting XI for the Armada.
It would take a while before either team scored a goal. In the 42nd minute, Eloundou played a nice one-two with Gio Abreu. Elondoo crossed to Mikah Thomas whose shot hit the post, but it rebounded back to him and he put it away to give the Armada the 1-0 lead.
Miami would equalize in the 48th minute on a corner kick. Shamar Shelton sent it into the box and Bautista Pablo Dominguez nodded it home to level the match at 1.
The Armada would play a man down starting in the 83rd minute. Thomas, who earlier picked up a yellow card, drew another when he shoved a Miami United player to the ground. That resulted in a red card. The Armada defense survived the final three minutes of regulation and four minutes of stoppage time, including an Abreu clearance off the line moments before the whistle. Then, Jacksonville’s defense then survived 30 minutes of extra time to send the game to penalty kicks.
After nine rounds, the sides were still even at 8-8 on penalties. That’s when the goalkeepers took center stage, not just in the net, but on the penalty spot. Rulle’s shot, the 10th for the Armada was sent high but glanced off the crossbar and went in. Next, he had to save one to secure the win.
Miami United’s Occenat, who earned 10 appearances with the Haitian national team drove one to the bottom left corner of the goal, but Rulle was there to push it away and start the celebration.
The Armada will face Miami FC of the USL Championship next week.