The Jacksonville Armada celebrate their opening goal against The Villages SC in the 6th minute of the club’s 2018 US Open Cup Preliminary Round match. Photo: Eldy Mendez | Armada FC
As a late addition into the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the Jacksonville Armada FC came ready to play as they kicked off against The Villages SC Sunday night at Southern Oak Stadium on the campus of Jacksonville University.
For the third year in a row, the Armada were victorious in their opening round game in the US Open Cup, defeating The Villages SC, 2-1.
Jacksonville was relentless in the first half, dominating possession and creating several quality scoring chances. In the sixth minute, Michael Melvin attacked the left side and sent a beautiful ball to Ciaran Kilduff in the box, who put the Armada FC out front early with a sensational header.
After halftime, The Villages SC immediately put pressure on Jacksonville, eventually leading to an equalizer. Midfielder Gabriel Cabral provided teammate Leonardo Paiva with an excellent through ball in the box. Paiva found defender Gabriel Torres unmarked in the box and Torres was quick to find the right corner to even the score.
Jacksonville was able to seize momentum back, creating several scoring opportunities. In the 70th minute, defender Mechack Jèrôme lined up for a free kick just outside of the box. Jèrôme’s initial shot attempt was blocked by the wall, but his second shot was deflected into the net by a diving Wesley Charpie to give the Armada FC its second lead of the match.
Armada FC head coach Mark Lowry praised Charpie after the game.
“He attacks the ball well. If you attack the ball well with the quality players we put him with like Michael (Melvin), Conor (Doyle) and Mechack (Jèrôme), you’ll score goals,” said Lowry.
During the final stretch, the Armada FC kept the pressure on as forward Conor Doyle nearly struck from a great look in the box. Jacksonville held on in a physical 2-1 win to advance to the First Round of the US Open Cup.
The Armada FC will have limited rest as they travel to Central Florida for their next match on Wednesday, but that doesn’t worry Lowry.
“We’re fine. We didn’t exert ourselves physically tonight. We were in control most of the game. We’ll be fine for Wednesday.”
Jacksonville takes on SIMA Àguilas of the PDL in Montverde, Fla. on Wednesday night as the First Round of the Open Cup begins. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.