Soccer

North Carolina FC runs Jacksonville Armada ashore with 3-1 win

Posted May 13

The modern Mother’s Day dates back to the early 20th century when Anna Jarvis, daughter of social activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, championed an annual occasion to honor the sacrifices of all mothers, including her own. Jarvis’ dogged persistence paid off in 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

Unfortunately, Jarvis would later rebel against the perceived commercialization of Mother’s Day. She spent the majority of her later years and fortune futilely trying to remove it from the American calendar.

The Jacksonville Armada put on a performance only a mother could love Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park. Two goals by quicksilver midfielder Lance Laing paced North Carolina FC to a 3-1 victory, handing the previously undefeated Armada their first loss of 2017.

The Armada christened the scoreline in the 11th minute. NCFC goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre didn’t retrieve a J.C. Banks ball into the box before forward Derek Gehard could head it off the left post. The orb bounced around before becoming tangled beneath Christina Ibeagha and Zach Steinberger. Mutual possession quickly became a penalty on Ibeagha in the judgment of referee Baboucarr Jallow. Sylvestre guessed the wrong direction on Jack Blake’s ensuing kick from the spot and Jacksonville took the early advantage with the goal.

North Carolina FC evened up matters in the 27th minute. Lance Laing crossed to a leaping Ibeagha, whose header rattled the crossbar. Billy Schuler played the rebound out to James Marcelin, who buried his blast from 19 yards to knot the score at 1-1.

The home side took the lead in the 41st minute thanks to a golazo from Laing. Accepting a pass from Nazmi Albadawi, Laing’s one-touch, left-foot wedge looped over the helpless head of Armada keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell before nestling into the bottom of the far netting. Patterson-Sewell flashed Laing a gracious double thumbs-up, and whoopsie-daisy or not, the goal gave NCFC a 2-1 lead at intermission.

“I was aiming for the goal … but I wasn’t,” Laing said. “I really wanted to put it in a good spot. Everyone knows I have a good cross and I’ve been dangerous, as you guys can see during the game. I had some really good crosses that almost led to goals.

"That one, I was just trying to put it in a good spot, and it ended up in the back of the net. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first one to do that.”

Armada manager Mark Lowery was flummoxed at halftime, as his squad executed their pre-match game plan yet still trailed.

“The first half, we picked the ball off da Luz, Marcelin, (the) fullbacks six or seven times,” Lowery said. “We pressed high, we won the ball in great areas, but we didn’t capitalize on that.

"So we do all this work on where we want to press, who we want to isolate, who we want to go after, and it works. And then the guys don’t go forward and get the rewards from that.”

In the 68th minute, Armada defender (and former Carolina RailHawk) Drew Beckie was whistled for tripping Laing in the box, after Jallow declined the same foul four minutes previously. Laing stepped to the spot and ripped nylon to account for the final 3-1 margin. Laing’s brace gives him four goals this season to accompany two assists.

“I was communicating with [the referee] during the game, and he said he missed the first [penalty], for sure,” Laing said. “The second one, there was definite contact, as well, and he didn’t miss that one.”

North Carolina FC Colin Clarke said his team deserved the three points. Yet, notwithstanding the scoreline, Lowery believed his team did everything they wanted to do except, well, score goals and prevent NCFC from doing the same.

“It was an even game,” Lowery said. “If you look at the stats, we had 16 shots on goal, more than them. More shots in the box than they did. Possession was pretty even. So when you go away from home and get stats like that, probably a draw would have been a fair result. But we’re very disappointed with the three goals we conceded.”

Even as there was an entertaining game on pitch tonight, foremost on everyone’s mind was still NCFC’s 2-1 home loss to San Francisco last Saturday.

“[This win] starts with the disappointment of last week,” said Clarke. “We’d been on the road and done superb, picked up four points … then we come home and feel like we dropped three points against San Francisco.”

“Last week, we let ourselves down and our fans down,” Laing said. “This week was all about proving a point to show that we have something about us, and to show out against an undefeated team in the league was a good way to do business tonight.”

“This is probably the hardest place in the league to come, let’s be honest,” Lowery added. “Last week against San Francisco, (NCFC) destroyed them. How (they) didn’t win that game, I don’t know. So you look at that game, even though it’s a loss for [NCFC] and San Francisco escaped with three points, it shows what a hard place this is to come. The atmosphere, how to play on the field, (against) the conditions. It’s a tough place to come.”

North Carolina FC (3-2-2, 11 pts.) should savor the good feelings while it can, as four of the team’s next five NASL matches are on the road. The next regular season game is Saturday, May 20 at Puerto Rico FC. But first, NCFC begins play in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next Wednesday, May 31 with a third-round tie at the Carolina Dynamo.

BOX SCORE

LINEUPS

NCFC: Sylvestre, Black (Moses, 45’), Tobin, Ibeagha, Miller, Marcelin, da Luz, Albadawi, Robinson (Akinyode, 88’), Laing (Shipalane, 78’), Schuler

JAX: Patterson-Sewell, Beckie, Jerome, Ryden, Pitchkolan, Blake (Barrow, 71’), George, Steinberger, Gebhard (Glenn, 71’), J. Johnson (Eloundou, 60’), Banks

GOALS

NCFC: Marcelin, 27’ (Schuler); Laing, 41’ (Albadawi)

JAX: Blake, 12’ (PK)

CAUTIONS

NCFC: ---

JAX: Beckie, 26’

EJECTIONS

NCFC: ---

JAX: ---

ATTENDANCE: 4,543

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