Jacksonville Sports Day

NASL: Armada Wins Over North Carolina to Remain Undefeated at Home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Armada FC came into this midday match with one thing on its mind, revenge.

Jacksonville beat North Carolina FC, 2-1, defeating the team who snapped their undefeated streak just weeks earlier.

The victory creates a battle for first place with the Miami FC on Saturday, June 3 at Hodges Stadium.

Temperatures in the 90s did not stop fans from cheering on the Armada FC (4W-4D-1L, 2nd place NASL Spring Season) as they faced North Carolina (4W-2D-3L, 3rd place NASL Spring Season).

“This game was a must-win if we want to continue our push,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “We got the three points. The first half was very good, the second was different. It’s not what I wanted it to be, but the guys found a way and showed resilience. In these conditions it wasn’t easy, so credit to them.”

With their only loss of the season coming at the hands of North Carolina, the Armada FC had strong effort to start the game. However, they were unable to convert that effort into goals early on.

Still knotted at zero, the teams took a water break because of the scorching temperatures. Just minutes after the break, the Armada FC struck first. Jack Blake was blocked but Zach Steinberger took advantage of the opportunity and netted the first goal of the game giving Jacksonville a 1-0 advantage in the 30th minute.

The goals did not stop there because the momentum was on Jacksonville’s side.

Two minutes later Steinberger scored his second goal off a cross by Drew Beckie to give the Armada FC a commanding 2-0 lead. Section 904 went crazy and the blue, white and gold flags flew in the wind as cheers erupted from the stadium.

“It’s great to see [Steinberger] rewarded with goals. He puts himself in great spots,” said Armada FC Captain Aaron Pitchkolan.

Jacksonville went into halftime leading North Carolina by two.

The Armada FC continued to play with intensity out of the halftime break. Blake almost nailed a free kick, but North Carolina’s goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre made a spectacular save. Off the rebound, Derek Gebhard hit a header that barely missed.

North Carolina made a last ditch effort as they scored a goal late in the second half during stoppage time that closed the gap to 2-1.

“This is probably the best form I’ve been in, in terms of goal scoring. This is the best form we’ve been in as a team, we’re finding our identity. We could have closed the game out a little better, but three points is three points,” said Steinberger.

Aaron Pitchkolan made league history with his 152nd NASL appearance, moving him into the all-time appearance leader position.

“It’s great, especially this season. It’s a great group of guys and a great staff. It’s fun to do it with this group of people,” said Pitchkolan.

Next up for the Armada FC is the U.S. Open Cup Third Round match against the Charleston Battery on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Then the club will return to Hodges Stadium on Saturday, June 3, as they face the Miami FC.

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