By New Orleans Jesters
The New Orleans Jesters defeated Florida Roots FC 3-1 Saturday night at Pan American Stadium to advance to the NPSL Gulf Coast Conference playoffs. Needing a victory to guarantee a berth in the postseason, the Jesters executed perfectly behind goals from Andres Rodriguez, Mason Walsh, and Sammy Nicholls.
The Jesters will now face the #1 seed Jacksonville Armada in the Gulf Coast semifinal round in a single-elimination match on Wednesday night in Jacksonville, FL. The match will take place at 6:00 pm with a live stream available at mycujoo.tv.
New Orleans attacked from the kickoff and were rewarded in the 16th minute with a fine individual goal from midfielder Andrew Rodriguez. Then Rodriguez dribbled past his marker and slammed a shot home from 20 yards.
Five minutes later it was 2-0 after another superb individual effort, this time from captain Mason Walsh. The forward drifted past his defender into the box and after his initial shot deflected back off the post he buried the loose ball.
Florida Roots pulled a goal back in the 35th minute when Agustin Vivas de lorenzi slipped in to steal the ball from the Jesters’ last defender 25 yards out. The midfielder then rounded goalkeeper Qamil Dervashaj and finished into the empty net.
The Jesters came close to adding a third in the 78th minute through Jowayne Laidley. A minute later Walsh fired just wide as he looked for a second goal.
Dervashaj was forced to make a clutch save at the near post to preserve the lead in the first minute of stoppage time. Sammy Nicholls would then put the game beyond doubt with a neat finish after the Roots goalkeeper failed to hold the ball in the box.
The Jesters will now head to Jacksonville to face the top-seeded side in the conference. The winner of that semifinal will advance to face the winner of the Southern States SC vs. Pensacola FC match in the Gulf Coast Conference final next Saturday night.
Photo Credit: James E. Cage Jr.