Cameron Grassmyer isn’t known for finding the back of the net, but with the game in the balance, the 6’4″ defender provided a game-winner in the closing minutes on Wednesday night. Grassmyer’s 89th minute header off a free kick proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory for the Jacksonville Armada U23 team against The Villages SC in the First Round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. For Grassmyer it’s a great experience he won’t forget.
“This is my first game ever in the US Open Cup, I know it has a huge tradition to it, and for me to have scored, it was such a long time for me to get back in the score sheet, the feeling was so surreal.” said Grassmyer.
For those who arrived late to Patton Park, they missed a blistering start for the visiting Buffalo. Ericksson Alves needed less than a minute to put The Villages SC ahead 1-0 after slamming home a rebound right in front of the net. But that was all the scoring the defending PDL Southeast division champs would see on this night. Despite some late chances for The Villages SC it was Jacksonville who took control after halftime under head coach Pat Cannon.
“To start the game we had some nerves, gave up a tough goal, but the boys settled in at halftime and we talked about putting more numbers forward, a little more sense of urgency and getting behind their back four.” said Cannon.
Substitutions proved to be a key swing for the Armada U23 side with a pair of changes at the 60th and 62nd minutes helping spur on the game-tying goal. Josh Castellanos scored the equalizer for the home team in the 63rd minute and momentum continued to roll the Armada’s way as the match went on.
Now Jacksonville turns its attention to Round 2 of the U.S. Open Cup and a trip to Al Lang Stadium next Tuesday night to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the United Soccer League. Nurdin Hrustic knows what it’s like to face the Rowdies from his time with the Armada’s senior club in the NASL and hopes to lead the U-23 side to similar success.
“We’re trying to be the Cinderella story and take it as far as possible, try to lead these young guys, with their power and energy coming out of college and try to do the best we can.” said Hrustic.