By Louis Llerandi/Jacksonville Armada FC U-23
The Jacksonville Armada FC U-23 hosted Naples United FC in the NPSL South Region Semifinals on Wednesday at Jangro Stadium. This was the first meeting between the two clubs this season, and the Armada’s third game of the 2022 NPSL Playoffs.
The weather was not cooperative for the start of the match, and the game was ready to kickoff after a two-hour delay.
Jacksonville was on the attack as soon as the center referee blew the first whistle, trying to break through the Naples defense.
Fifteen minutes into the game, Dominic Dominguez would come up with a crucial save from point-blank range to keep the match scoreless. Just five minutes later, a Naples United striker hit a shot that rang off the crossbar.
In the 30th minute, Naples played a ball over the top of the Armada’s back line and scored to take a 1-0 lead.
The Armada pressed the opposition’s backline and caused Naples to make several mistakes. However, Jacksonville was not able to take advantage of them. The boys in blue would go into the locker room at halftime down by a goal.
Jacksonville continued to retain most of the possession, battling for the tying goal. In the 78th minute, Marc Birkelund lined up a strike from over 30 yards and smashed the ball past the opposition’s goalkeeper to make the score 1-1.
Six minutes of stoppage time would be added to the second half. In the 91st minute, Jed Bowman whipped a ball into the box to Reed Davis.
Davis would get his head on the end of the cross and finish the chance to put the Armada ahead 2-1.
A few minutes later, Alex Ierides and the Naples goalkeeper would both receive their second yellow cards of the match and were subsequently both sent off.
In the dying moments of the match Giancarlo Vaccaro streaked down the right wing and played a chip pass over the keeper to Marc Birkelund.
Birkelund would chest the ball into the net for his second goal of the night, making the final score 3-1.
“What a performance by the team,” said Armada FC U-23 head coach Tommy Krizanovic. “Although we don’t favor being in situations where we are a goal down, we have started to believe that anything is possible and we can turn around any game. We have to work more on the smaller details but playing during short weeks is really tough and we have to prioritize what really matters and trust and believe the players have the capability to keep finding the results. Proud of the team for what they have accomplished so far.”
With last night’s result over Naples United FC, the Jacksonville Armada FC U-23 advance through to the South Region Final. The NPSL South Region Champion will be decided this Saturday when the Jacksonville Armada take on Tulsa Athletic.
Do not miss your chance to witness your Jacksonville Armada make history on July 23rd at 6:30 pm at Jangro Stadium! Reserve your free tickets to the NPSL South Region Final today on Eventbrite.
Photo Credit: Anna Capezzera/Jacksonville Armada FC U-23