JC Banks of the Jacksonville Armada scored the lone goal against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Second Round of the 2018 US Open Cup. Photo: Keith Garrett | Jacksonville Armada
There was no love lost between the former NASL foes Wednesday night as the Tampa Rowdies and the Jacksonville Armada met in the Second Round of the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The two clubs fought aimlessly for possession throughout the match, but it was the Armada who ultimately came away with the victory, 1-0.
While Jacksonville are a rare professional team in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), it still marked an accomplishment for the mostly-amateur league. Since the league was founded in 2003, only one NPSL club (Chattanooga FC, who did it twice) has defeated a professional team. (NOTE: FC Wichita joined the club later that evening)
The Armada also made some history for themselves, as they won three games in a single tournament for the first time.
It took a while for the game to get started as lightning delayed the start by 90 minutes. The delay and the soaked field could have affected the players as the first half produced very few quality chances as the two teams went into the halftime break scoreless.
Starting the second half, the Armada went on the attack and won a key possession in front of the Rowdies net. Josh Castellanos got a second chance and crossed it to JC Banks who buried in the back of the net. With that goal, the Armada were able to hold off the Rowdies for the remaining 40 plus minutes.
“The guys put everything out there today,” said Armada Coach Mark Lowry. “Tampa is very direct and put the ball in the box a lot. It wasn’t pretty but we defended fantastically well.”
This was certainly true as around the 65th minute, the Rowdies maintained the ball for a solid 10 minutes. Shot after shot, which led to four corner kicks in a row, the Armada held off the attack.
“Grinding, just grinding,” said JC Banks on recapping the match. “It wasn’t a pretty game, but you need to win those games.”
With their victory, the Armada now move on to the Third Round of the US Open Cup and will host Miami United FC, another NPSL team.