Pro Hockey News

Sunday, August 30, 2015

AFL: Turnovers Costly in Jacksonville Sharks Arena Bowl Loss

STOCKTON, CA – The Jacksonville Sharks led by six points at halftime in ArenaBowl XXVIII, but opened the third quarter with back-to-back turnovers on offense. 

The miscues allowed the San Jose SaberCats to take the lead for good, as the Sharks fell by a 67-48 count at Stockton Arena on Saturday night.

Jacksonville (12-9) led by a 33-27 score coming out of the locker room for the start of the third quarter before San Jose (20-1) quarterback Erik Meyer engineered a touchdown drive on the opening possession of the second half. 

Meyer’s 26-yard pass to D.J. Stephens allowed San Jose to take its first lead of the game, as the SaberCats seized a 34-33 advantage.

In the loss, Tommy Grady completed 22 of his 36 pass attempts for 310 yards and seven touchdowns against one interception. Fullback Derrick Ross was limited to 13 rushing yards on his seven carries. 

At receiver, Hills paced the Jacksonville offense with nine receptions for 133 yards and four touchdowns, while Terrence Smith caught four passes for 53 yards and two scores. Tiger Jones added three catches for 35 yards and his one touchdown. On defense, Greg Reid racked up seven solo tackles to go along with his interception.

For the SaberCats, Meyer went 17-of-29 for 204 yards and four touchdowns against one interception. On the ground, Meyer totaled 26 yards and two touchdowns on his three carries, while Odie Armstrong also rushed for a score. 

Reggie Gray led San Jose with nine receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, Clevan Thomas paced San Jose with 7.5 total tackles, while Donte Paige-Moss notched four tackles and a forced fumble and David Hyland recorded 4.5 tackles to go along with his two non-offensive touchdowns.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

NASL: Carolina Visits New York Looking To End Cosmos' Home Unbeaten Streak; Armada Home

NEW YORK - The standings remained the same after Ottawa Fury FC and the New York Cosmos settled for a hard-fought draw in a match between the league's top two sides on Wednesday. With neither side picking up breathing room, the race to The Championship remains extremely close.

In Week 9, Ottawa hosts a struggling Tampa Bay Rowdies side to kick off Saturday's matches at 7:00 p.m. ET. 

Three matches will then get underway at 7:30 when the Atlanta Silverbacks host an FC Edmonton side that is looking to rebound from a tough result a weekend ago, while the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Indy Eleven aim to build momentum - and their unbeaten runs - from Lockhart Stadium. 

Jackonville Armada FC hosts the San Antonio Scorpions in a rematch of last weekend's action, which San Antonio won, 1-0.

In the lone Sunday match, the New York Cosmos can continue its dominant run of form at home when they host the Carolina RailHawks.

A full match preview of all the action is below:

Jacksonville Armada FC vs. San Antonio Scorpions
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 29
Community First Park | Jacksonville, Fla.
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), (National - Canada), CW17 (Local - Jacksonville), KSAT 12.2 MeTV (Local - San Antonio)

The Armada FC host the Scorpions after visiting San Antonio last weekend. In a tough match, Jacksonville (3-1-5, 10 points) ultimately fell, 1-0. At home, however, is where the Armada FC has had its best performances and will look to replicate a 2-1 victory in the Spring Season in the upcoming clash.

The Scorpions (2-2-4, 8 points), the league's defending champions, are looking to gain momentum to make a push towards The Championship. Currently sitting either near the bottom (Fall Season Standings) or at the bottom (Combined Standings), San Antonio is still in the thick of the race if the club can string a few results together. While Omar Cummings has earned plaudits for his 10 goals this season, Billy Forbes continues to be the attack's heartbeat, coming off the bench to score the game-winning goal against Jacksonville.

Ottawa Fury FC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
7:00 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 29
TD Place | Ottawa, Ontario
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), Rogers TV (Local - Ottawa)

Ottawa is coming off a midweek test against the New York Cosmos that ended in a 0-0 draw. Fury FC (6W-2D-1L, 20 points) has only suffered one loss in its last 14 games as the club pushes not just for a Spring Season title, but the top seed in The Championship. Built on a strong defense, Ottawa limited the Cosmos, and will want to do the same with the Rowdies coming to town.

As well as Fury FC has played over the course of the Fall Season, the Rowdies (2-1-6, 7 points) have been struggling. After a 3-1 loss to Minnesota United in Tampa Bay last weekend, the Rowdies will hope to change their fortunes on the road. While still sitting in a place that will earn them a place in the postseason, the Rowdies are feeling the pressure from the teams below them and will need to start putting together a string of results under newly named head coach Stuart Campbell.

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. FC Edmonton
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 29
Atlanta Silverbacks Park | Atlanta Ga.
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), (National - Canada)

The Silverbacks (4-3-3, 15 points) went into Edmonton earlier in the Fall Season and picked up a 3-1 win, and Atlanta will want nothing less than three points when hosting the Eddies. With both sides sitting on 15 points in the Fall Season Standings, it's a crucial match for building momentum towards a place in The Championship. Jaime Chavez continues to play a key role, forcing an own goal last weekend to earn his side a 1-1 draw against Indy Eleven.

The Eddies (4-3-3, 15 points) are coming off a disappointing performance against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Colin Miller's side needs to rebound at Silverbacks Park. The road hasn't been difficult for the Eddies to maneuver in the Fall Season as they've yet to lose on their travels. The combination of Tomi Ameobi and Lance Laing is always dangerous and will test the Silverbacks' back line - and will be an even more difficult task with the absence of defensive stalwart Simon Mensing, who is serving a one-game suspension for a red card last weekend.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Indy Eleven
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 29
Lockhart Stadium | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), (National - Canada), SFL-TV (Local - Fort Lauderdale)

The Strikers (3-4-2, 13 points) can pick up a third win in a row, and fourth unbeaten overall, with a strong performance when hosting Indy. The side should be full of confidence, especially after putting in a strong shift at Clarke Field a weekend ago. Stefano Pinho has been in a starring role for Fort Lauderdale, and the young Brazilian has nine goals to date in the season - one shy of the league leader, Omar Cummings.

Indy, after going winless in a five-match stretch, is unbeaten in its last two. Dane Richards is finding his form after scoring in two consecutive matches, helping the Boys in Blue (2-3-4, 9 points) to a 2-0 victory last Wednesday and a 1-1 draw against the Silverbacks. The Eleven will be without a key player, though, as Erick Norales serves a one-game suspension after picking up a red card last weekend.

New York Cosmos vs. Carolina RailHawks
4:00 p.m. ET | Sunday, August 30
Shuart Stadium | Hempstead, N.Y.
Watch | ONE World Sports (National - U.S.), WRAL2 (Local - Cary/Raleigh)

After shaking off a previous tough run of form at WakeMed Soccer Park this season - a 3-3 draw and a 3-1 win in 2015 - the Cosmos (4-4-1, 16 points) still have one more score to settle. The RailHawks are the last side to beat New York at home, which came in a 1-0 victory back on August 2, 2014. Since then, the Cosmos have gone on a stretch of 16 games unbeaten when playing in New York. The club is also on a seven-game unbeaten streak in the Fall Season.

The RailHawks (2-2-5, 8 points), however, have hit a rough patch losing their last three matches and conceding three goals in each. After having an off week, Carolina should be rested when it visits a Cosmos side that is playing their third match in a nine-day stretch. Nacho Novo, the team's leading goalscorer, will need to test New York's back line and get back to his scoring ways to help pull out a result on the road. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Suns Shutout by Smokies 7-0

KODAK, Tenn. - The Jacksonville Suns (24-37, 53-77) were shutout by the Tennessee Smokies (31-30, 70-60) 7-0 Friday night from Smokies Stadium.

Andres Santiago (W, 3-5) finished eight innings scoreless allowing two hits while not walking a batter and striking out six. while Suns starter Chipper Smith (L, 3-4) lasted five frames allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits while walking three and striking out seven.

The Smokies started their threat at the plate in the bottom of the fourth, after Wilson Contreas worked a lead off walk, followed by a double off the bat of Dan Vogelbach that placed runners on the corners and nobody out. It was Jeimer Candelario that laced a RBI single into left that moved the Smokies in front 1-0. Next batter Stephen Bruno, grounded a run-scoring fielder’s choice to shortstop moving the advantage to 2-0 through four frames of play.

Moving to the last of the sixth, the Smokies got their first two runners aboard courtesy of a pair of walks offered up by Suns bullpen arm Fabian Williamson. It was Ryan Dent who mashed a run-scoring single into center moving Tennessee’s edge to 3-0. Jacob Hannemann added a RBI single to push the scoreboard edge to 4-0. With Suns reliever CJ Robinson now in the game, he would offer up a RBI ground out to Albert Almora Jr., and a two-run double to Jacob Hannemann bursting out Tennessee to a 7-0 lead.

Williamson in relief for Jacksonville allowed five runs (all earned) on two hits. CJ Robinson worked three innings out of the bullpen for the Suns allowing one hit while walking one.

The Suns and Smokies will continue their series Saturday night from Smokies Stadium with a first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. ET. Suns will send out right-hander Scott Lyman (1-9, 6.72 ERA) while the Smokies will counter with righty Pierce Johnson (6-2, 2.22 ERA).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

GOLF NOTES: Gate Invitational was not without controversy

Jax Golf News

This year's Gate Invitational was not without controversy.

The winner was Dan Olsen, a former Touring pro, but his eligibility was questioned by some of the competitors.

The rules say that entrants must be employed PGA pros, but some feel that Olsen's stated”employment” of teaching at local clubs and schools doesn't count if the owner doesn't consider him an employee.

Don't fault the Gate. There was a Chapter event the previous week and Olsen was allowed to enter.

• There's a lot of sentiment to change the rules governing dropping the ball. No more drops, say the non-purists. Let's all place the ball, thus saving time and making things equal for all. Apparently, there's enough support in the USGA to move it along, but the R&A has doubts. Pro shops will be serviced either by soft goods salespeople, or they'll have to do it on the internet.

• Hard to imagine, but Nike has dumped its hard goods reps.

• Reynolds Plantation has been taken over by MetLife but folks there say it's anything but a finance-related takeover. 

The insurance company has made improvements and has pulled together the various pieces — for instance, the golf shop and the hotel were almost totally separate operations. There's also discussion of a zoo on the property.

• Nice member amenity: you can take your dry cleaning to Charlotte Country Club and they'll get it done. Three-day service.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SUNS: Jacksonville Suffers Third-Straight Loss, Trail Series 2-0

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.– The Jacksonville Suns (22-35, 51-75) were dropped by the Birmingham Barons (32-24, 65-60) 11-2 Monday night from Regions Field.

Matt Heidenreich (W, 1-0) in his start for Birmingham worked six frames surrendering one run (earned) on two hits while two and striking out four. Suns starter Jarlin Garcia (L, 0-2) lasted three innings allowing seven runs (all earned) on seven hits (one home run) while walking three and striking out two in a losing decision.

The scoring would begin in the bottom of the first after the Barons put a pair of runners in scoring position after a walk to Jacob May, and a double by Nick Delmonico. It was then Christian Marrero (HR, 13) ripping a three-run home run to left to leap his squad ahead 3-0.

In the third the Barons loaded the bases after a pair of walks and a single. Tony Thomas then mashed a bases-clearing three RBI triple moving Birmingham ahead 6-0. With two outs now in the frame, Joey DiMichele reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second, for Marcus Lemon’s run-scoring single making the tally 7-0.

With runners on the corners and two outs, Tim Anderson provided a RBI single into center off of Suns bullpen arm Fabian Williamson, which ballooned the Birmingham lead to 8-0 in the bottom of the fifth.

Flashing to the top of the sixth the first three men to the plate would get on to load the bases for Jacksonville. David Adams would then get the Suns on the scoreboard courtesy of an RBI sacrifice fly making it an 8-1 game.

To the last of the sixth the Barons loaded the bases after a double, hit by pitch, and a walk offered up by Williamson. With bullpen arm Juancito Martinez now in the game, DiMichele laced a run-scoring single to make the tally 9-1.

To the eighth, and Adams brought the Suns closer via a RBI single to trim the Suns deficit to 9-2.

Moving to the home half of the eighth DiMichele based a RBI double pushing Birmingham in front 10-2. Lemon tacked on a RBI sacrifice fly with position player Eudy Pina now on the mound for the Suns. The score was now 11-2.

Williamson out of the Suns bullpen allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits while walking and striking out two. Jacksonville bullpen arm Juancito Martinez lasted two and a third frames relinquishing two runs (both earned) on four hits while not walking a batter and striking out three. Pina in his professional pitching debut tossed a scoreless two-thirds of an inning.

The Suns and Barons continue their series Tuesday night with a first pitch set for 8:05 p.m. ET from Regions field. The Suns have yet to announce their starter while the Barons will counter with righty Mark Blackmar (5-6, 3.55 ERA).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

NASL: Scorpions top Armada FC for first win since early July

NEW YORK -- Billy Forbes came off the bench to score the game's only goal as the San Antonio Scorpions beat visiting Jacksonville Armada FC, 1-0, to climb out of last place in the Fall Season Standings.

The New York Cosmos scored three goals in the first 11 minutes of the second half on Saturday night and stretched their Fall Season unbeaten streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

New York midfielder Leo Fernandes continued his torrid offensive display, scoring his team-leading seventh goal, then providing an assist to Lucky Mkosana for the eventual game-winning goal. Fernandes, 23, who grew up on Long Island not far from the Cosmos' home stadium at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.

In other games on Saturday night, Minnesota United FC went to Florida and left with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Christian Ramirez's seven-game goalscoring streak was halted, while head coach Manny Lagos notched his 50th NASL regular season victory. 

The Atlanta Silverbacks found a second-half equalizer to secure a point against Indy Eleven. 

The results, before FC Edmonton hosts Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, mean that four teams (the Eddies, Cosmos, Loons, and Silverbacks) are all tied on 15 points - just four off the pace set by league-leading Ottawa Fury FC.

San Antonio Scorpions 1, Jacksonville Armada FC 0

After a scoreless first half, second-half substitute Billy Forbes scored his fourth goal of the season to put San Antonio (2-2-4, 8 points) into the lead before 7,569 at Toyota Field. The Scorpions entered the game without a victory in their previous five matches, but the win enabled them to climb out of last place in the Fall Season Standings. Jacksonville (3-1-5, 10 points) had its two-game winning streak snapped, in which the Armada FC held the opposition scoreless.

Atlanta Silverbacks 1, Indy Eleven 1

Six minutes into the game, Indy Eleven (2W-3D-4L, 9 points), which had snapped a five-game winless streak with a midweek win, jumped into the lead as Dane Richards converted a penalty kick following a handball committed by the Silverbacks. Richards, who is on loan from the New York Red Bulls, scored a goal for the second straight game.

Indy Eleven was reduced to 10 men for the final 40 minutes after Erick Norales was shown a red card for denying a goalscoring opportunity. Atlanta (4-3-3, 15 points) finally broke through in the 76th minute when Jaime Chavez chased down a ball on the end line and flicked it toward goal with the outside of his right foot. The ball appeared to have been put over the line by Indy's Greg Janicki. Atlanta was then reduced to 10 men when Simon Mensing received his second yellow card of the match in the 77th minute.

New York Cosmos 3, Carolina RailHawks 1

Carolina (2-2-5, 8 points), which was coming off consecutive 3-0 losses on the road, took the lead in the 17th minute when Tiyi Shipalane's corner from the right side found the head of Daniel Scott, who beat a diving Jimmy Maurer. The Cosmos (4-3-1, 15 points) equalized seconds into the second half. Hunter Freeman crossed from the right, and in a scramble in front of the net, Leo Fernandes poked a loose ball past Carolina 'keeper Akira Fitzgerald for his team-leading seventh goal.

Fernandes was involved in the go-ahead goal eight minutes later when his cross from the far left flank was volleyed home in spectacular fashion by Lucky Mkosana, New York continued to pour it on when Adam Moffat finished off a multi-pass combination with a left-footed blast in the 57th minutes. The RailHawks are now winless in their last five games (four losses) and the Cosmos are unbeaten in six.

Minnesota United FC 3, Tampa Bay Rowdies 1

Midway through the first half, Rowdies midfielder Georgi Hristov picked up his eighth assist of the year when he slid a pass to Juan Guerra, whose shot from just inside the area beat Minnesota (4-3-2, 15 points) goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt high to the near post. The Loons drew even in the 36th minute when Kalif Alhassan carried the ball through the midfield and found Ibson, whose shot beat Matt Pickens.

Minnesota raced into the lead in the 65th minute when Justin Davis scored off a pass from Ibson to complete an end-to-end counterattack. Daniel Mendes capped off the scoring with a goal in second half injury time. It was the first game for Tampa Bay (2-1-6, 7 points) since the club made a coaching change, and it was Stuart Campbell in charge for the Rowdies on Saturday night. Minnesota's Christian Ramirez was held without a goal, failing to tie the league's Modern Era record for goals in consecutive games.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SOCCER: Dolphins Kick-Off 2015 with a Draw

STATESBORO, Ga. – Jacksonville University's women's soccer team was the first fall program to compete in the 2015-16 season, and the ladies opened the campaign on a high note – a 2-2 draw at Georgia Southern.

Under the Friday night lights, the Dolphins battled back from an early deficit to push the match into double overtime. Senior forward Marie Weckhurst registered JU's first goal of the year and continued to create opportunities for her teammates with an assist on the second score.

"We had a bit of a rough start, but after the first 25-30 minutes were over, I was pleased with how we played," Head Coach Brian Copham said. "I was proud of the way we fought back to get the equalizer. We had a number of gutty performances today especially out of the group that played all 110 minutes. I saw a lot of positives tonight and think we have a lot to build on."

The Eagles broke out of the gate with two quick goals, scoring a minute into the match and again at the 21:49 mark. Melinda Lukas notched the Eagles' first goal and later Katey Lippitt scored on a deflected corner kick for the teams' 2-0 advantage.

In the 36th minute, Weckhurst put Jacksonville on the board with a chipper that rolled past GSU's keeper and into the net.

The score remained 2-1 through the half until Lindsay Forrest knocked in the equalizer 12 minutes into the second frame. In a senior-to-senior connection, Weckhurst assisted the Dolphins in evening the score by winning a fifty-fifty ball and finding Forrest who finished on a 10-yard shot.

After the first half combined for 13 shots, defensive efforts appeared to limit both sides as eight shots were tabbed in the final three frames.

Sope Akindoju provided the Dolphins with their best chance at a game winner in the 91st minute; the shot was on target for a score but was saved by GSU's keeper.

In her first official match in the Green and White, goalkeeper Sara Wicks recorded seven saves.

Notes: The all-time series now stands at 7-3-2, in favor of Jacksonville … The Dolphins haven't dropped a decision to the Eagles in the last seven matches … Weckhurst has a combined five points in JU's last two matches with GSU after recording a goal in the 2-0 decision last season

Jacksonville continues its early road swing Sunday, Aug. 23 at UCF. The Knights, who have earned three American Athletic Conference championships, regular season and tournament, in the last two years, are currently ranked 17th in the NSCAA preseason poll. The teams last met in the 2011 season.

Friday, August 21, 2015

NASL: Teams Look To Make Up Ground With First-Place Ottawa Idle

NEW YORK - With league-leading Ottawa Fury FC off this weekend, several clubs can make up ground in the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season Standings. 

Week 8 action starts with Saturday night matches in Atlanta, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and San Antonio and ends with an afternoon matinee north of the border in Edmonton.

Leading the way on Saturday is a trio of matches with 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff times. The Atlanta Silverbacks hosts Indy Eleven, the Carolina RailHawks welcome the New York Cosmos, and Minnesota United FC pays a visit to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. At 8:30 p.m. ET, the San Antonio Scorpions take the field against visiting Jacksonville Armada FC. 

Sunday's lone match will take place at Clarke Field, where FC Edmonton plays host to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at 4 p.m. ET.

San Antonio Scorpions vs. Jacksonville Armada FC
8:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
Toyota Field | San Antonio, Texas
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), (National - Canada), CW17 (Local- Jacksonville)

The defending NASL Champions are certainly not where they were expecting to be at this point of the season. Inconsistent form has the Scorpions (1-2-4, 5 points) at the bottom of the Fall Season Standings. The only bright spot has been the play of the league's leading scorer, Omar Cummings (10 goals), and Billy Forbes (six assists). Up next is the Armada FC, who has yet to crack the win column on the road.

Jacksonville (3-1-4, 10 points) is brimming with confidence after two wins last week - 3-0 against the RailHawks and 1-0 over the Silverbacks. Jaime Castrillón has found his goalscoring touch, notching the game-winners in each of the club's victories last week. The Armada FC has been strong in front of goal with Jemal Johnson, Pascal Millien, and Alhassane Keita combining for 16 goals, but it's the recent string of shutouts that will prove pivotal for the seventh-place side if it is to going to continue its ascent up the Fall Season and Combined Standings.

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. Indy Eleven
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
Atlanta Silverbacks Park | Atlanta, Ga.
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), (National - Canada)

Having recently topped Indy at Carroll Stadium, the Silverbacks will look to replicate that gameplan when they host the Boys in Blue this Saturday. Atlanta (4W-2D-3L, 14 points) combined strong defensive work with a beautiful goal from Pedro Mendes to take all three points in the last meeting between the two sides. The Silverbacks continue to be led by Mendes and his talented attacking partners, Junior Burgos and Jaime Chavez. The trio have combined for 13 of the club's 14 Fall Season tallies.

Indy (2-2-4, 8 points) heads to Atlanta fresh off a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Wednesday. Dane Richards scored his first goal for the club, while Erick Norales converted a gorgeous free kick for his third goal of the campaign. The win on Wednesday snapped the club's five-game winless streak, and the Boys in Blue should have a renewed level of confidence heading into their clash against Atlanta.

Carolina RailHawks vs. New York Cosmos
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
WakeMed Soccer Park | Cary, N.C.
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), ONE World Sports (National - U.S.), (National - Canada)

Although Colin Clarke's side is heading into the weekend on the heels of a pair of shutout losses last week, the RailHawks, should still have some confidence ahead of Saturday's match against New York. Carolina (2-2-4, 8 points) is always tough to beat at home, having lost just once at WakeMed Soccer Park in 2015. On top of that, the Cosmos have never won in four all-time visits to Carolina.  

New York has been in a fine run of form in recent weeks after getting off to a slow start in the Fall Season. The Cosmos (3-3-1, 12 points) currently boast a five-game unbeaten run, and Leo Fernandes continues to shine as the team's leading marksman with six goals on the season. The Cardiac Cosmos made an appearance on their last visit to Cary, N.C., overturning a two-goal deficit in stoppage time to earn a 3-3 draw.  

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Minnesota United FC
7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, August 22
Al Lang Stadium | St. Petersburg, Fla.
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.), (National - Canada), Great 38 (Local - Tampa Bay/St. Pete), KSTC45-TV (Local - Twin Cities)

The Rowdies have hit hard times since their second-place finish in the Spring Season, and the club's dip in form has prompted a coaching change. Tampa Bay will no longer be under the direction of Thomas Rongen, who was relieved of his duties on Friday. The Rowdies (2-1-5, 7 points) have had trouble scoring of late, with only eight goals in their eight matches. Forward Maicon Santos, who leads the club in goals with seven, needs some help in the attack, and that could come from a player like Georgi Hristov. The Bulgarian leads the team in assists with seven this year, and he could play a crucial role for the club moving forward. Tampa Bay should receive a boost with several players - Richie Menjivar, Darwin Espinal, and Rich Balchan - recently returning to the lineup.

Their opponent, Minnesota United, isn't experiencing the same goalscoring issues. In fact, the club has scored at least one goal in its last 16 league matches. Christian Ramirez has scored in seven straight matches and should he find the net on Saturday night, he'll pull even with Etienne Barbara's Modern Era record for longest scoring streak. The Loons (3-3-2, 12 points), however, have been susceptible to conceding goals, having only managed to keep one clean sheet in the Fall Season.

FC Edmonton vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers
4 p.m. ET | Sunday, August 23
Clarke Field | Edmonton, Alberta
Watch | ESPN3 (National - U.S.) City TV (Local - Edmonton), SFL-TV (Local - Fort Lauderdale)

FC Edmonton put together a dominant performance last Sunday, defeating the Railhawks, 3-0. Dustin Corea found the back of the net for the first time since signing with the Eddies, while Tomi Ameobi and Lance Laing continued their impressive campaigns, each adding their seventh goals of the year. Edmonton (4-2-3, 15) is as healthy, and as strong, as it has been all season and will want to build on its momentum against the Strikers.

After picking up an important win against rival Tampa Bay last weekend, Fort Lauderdale (2-4-2, 10 points) heads to Clarke Field with some confidence. Visiting Edmonton is never an easy task, but the Strikers have had better luck than most historically, carrying a record of 3-3-3. The Strikers, however, dropped the most recent meeting in Edmonton, 3-2, back in the Spring Season. Fort Lauderdale will need Stefano Pinho, who has seven goals on the season, to continue leading the attack against what will be a tough Eddies back line. 

AFL: Jacksonville Sharks Hunting Conference Title in Philadelphia

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sharks will square off against the Philadelphia Soul in the 2015 American Conference Championship on Sunday, August 23. Kickoff at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia is set for 5 p.m. ET, and the game will air live to a national audience on CBS Sports Network. 

The winner of Sunday’s game will meet either the Arizona Rattlers or the San Jose SaberCats in ArenaBowl XXVIII.

This is the fourth matchup between the Sharks and Soul this season. While Jacksonville took two of the three regular-season meetings, handing Philadelphia two of its three losses, it is worth noting that the home team emerged victorious from each of those three games. In fact, Philadelphia was the only team to run the table at home this season, as the Soul went 9-0 on its home turf during the regular season and defeated the Cleveland Gladiators in last week’s playoff opener.

The Sharks will take the field on Sunday looking to both hand Philadelphia its first home loss of the season and earn their first-ever playoff victory against the Soul. These two teams met in both the 2012 and 2013 conference championship games, as Philadelphia won each of those matchups to advance to back-to-back ArenaBowls.

In squaring off against the Soul this week, the Sharks will look to replicate the combination of efficient offense and stifling defense that led to an emphatic 55-33 win over the Orlando Predators in the opening round of the postseason. In that game, the Sharks raced out to a 14-0 lead and led wire-to-wire, as the Predators never had the ball with a one-score deficit at any point in the second half.

Jacksonville quarterback Tommy Grady enters this week in the midst of an impressive run of form. Dating back to the Week 17 matchup between the Sharks and Soul, Grady has completed 113 of 149 pass attempts in the team’s last five games, compiling a 75.8% completion rate in those games. Grady has protected the football well of late, as in that same span he has fired 26 touchdowns against just two interceptions.

The Sharks will need Grady to be at his most efficient this week, as he goes up against Philadelphia’s Dan Raudabaugh. Selected to the All-Arena First Team, Raudabaugh led all AFL passers with 119 touchdown passes in 2015 and threw just one more interception (12) than Grady did (11). Raudabaugh and the Soul scored 60 or more points in all but two home games during the regular season.

With that said, the Sharks’ defense is coming off a game in which it held Orlando’s Randy Hippeard – the League’s most efficient passer during the regular season – to just 25-of-46 in the passing game. The Sharks were able to consistently affect Hippeard’s rhythm with a strong pass rush, creating opportunities for the Jacksonville secondary to come up with big plays. In particular, Terrance Smith laid an emphatic hit on a Predator receiver to force a turnover on downs in the third quarter, and both defensive back Greg Reid and Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson came up with an interception

In all, the Sharks’ defense collected two sacks, forced three turnovers and totaled two turnovers on downs last week. A similar performance against a potent Soul offense in Sunday’s matchup could go a long way toward landing Jacksonville a spot in next week’s ArenaBowl.

The last time these two teams squared off, Reid single-handedly turned the tide in the fourth quarter. With his team trailing by a score and the Soul offense in the red zone, Reid intercepted Raudabaugh at the goal line and raced the length of the field for a game-tying touchdown. On the Soul’s very next offensive snap, Reid stepped in front of another pass and would have had a second consecutive pick-six if not for a block in the back on the return. 

Either way, the Sharks’ offense cashed in to take over the lead in a game that Jacksonville eventually won by just one score. A playmaker with 10 interceptions in 13 games this season, Reid will likely have an opportunity to affect the game in a similar way this week.

Another key component of this week’s matchup is the familiarity that several Sharks players have with the Soul and their system. Wide receiver Tiger Jones and fullback Derrick Ross were both a part of the Soul’s back-to-back conference-winning teams. In the three regular-season matchups, Jones racked up 403 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, while Ross totaled 61 rushing yards and four scores. Each player will look to succeed against his former team and help take Jacksonville to its second ArenaBowl appearance.

As the lowest remaining seed, the Sharks would travel to face either Arizona or San Jose in a potential ArenaBowl matchup. The National Conference Championship will be played at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 22, with the game airing live on ESPNEWS.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Jacksonville Midfielder Jaime Castrillón Named NASL Player of the Week

NEW YORK - Jacksonville Armada FC had quite the week, picking up six points over two matches. Midfielder Jaime Castrillón played a vital role in each of the victories and for his efforts, he was named North American Soccer League (NASL) Player of the Week on Monday.

Castrillón, who has made 29 senior national team appearances for Colombia, opened the scoring in the Armada FC's 3-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks on Wednesday night. He then scored the game-winner in the club's 1-0 win over the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday night, firing home a rebound following a save from visiting goalkeeper Steward Ceus.

"I am honored to receive this recognition, but it is really a nod to how well our team played last week," Castrillón said. "We never stopped attacking, and that led to our solid performances on both sides of the pitch. We will keep working hard so that we can keep our momentum going."

In addition to finding the net twice last week, the 32-year-old midfielder played a key role in keeping Jacksonville's opponents off the score sheet. His two-way performances helped the Armada FC keep two consecutive clean sheets in front of their home fans following a spell that saw them give up 11 goals in four matches.

"Our performance last week was the result of everyone on our team working together as one," said Jacksonville head coach Guillermo Hoyos. "Jaime was a key part of that, and I look forward to seeing him continue to play at a high level."

A six-point surge was just what the Armada FC needed after hovering around the bottom of both the Fall Season and Combined Standings in recent weeks. The two wins - in addition to giving Jacksonville confidence and momentum moving forward - vaulted the club into the middle of the pack with the better part of the Fall Season still ahead.

Castrillón, a native of Puerto Nare, Colombia, signed with the Armada FC prior to the 2015 season after spending nearly three years with Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids. On the international level, the 5-foot-10 midfielder has featured for Los Cafeteros in two Copa America tournaments (2004 and 2007).

Jacksonville takes its show on the road next weekend, visiting the San Antonio Scorpions on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET at Toyota Field. The match can be seen live in the U.S. on ESPN3 and in Canada on 

Monday, August 17, 2015

MONDAY TEE TIME: TPC Stadium Course Upgrades Renovations

Jacksonville Golf News

The TPC Stadium Course and its surrounding area will get more of a facelift than we've previously heard after the 2016 Players. 

The course will get a near-total renovation and that's not all, as the clubhouse will be spiffed up and even the parking lot will be reworked.

The only big casualty will be the Web.Com Championship. Even though its Valley Course will be intact, the rest of the place will be a mess so look for it to move to another area course.

• Web.Com CEO David Brown sold his oceanfront Atlantic Beach home recently. Buyer was Jaguars QB Blake Bortles.

• The Father-Son event in Orlando later this year has an early favorite: Davis and Dru Love. Davis's game is on the upswing as he readies for the Champions Tour and Dru isn't a kid anymore. The rising junior at U. of Alabama won the Georgia Amateur.

• You won't see goofy golf for at least another year as the Open will be at Baltusrol and the PGA at Oakmont in 2016. 

It was contrived golf at its worst in 2015 at Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits, the former certainly gone forever from major consideration and the latter heading for the 2020 Ryder Cup, which might be okay as the circus needs a circus tent. 

Beware: we hear bad things about Erin Hills, the Michigan course that gets the Open in 2017.

There's a wonderful course in Northeast Florida called Long Point, which became member-owned when the Amelia Island Plantation was broken up in bankruptcy with the Omni folks taking over the resort. The members are now The Amelia island Club and the building of the course gave us one of golf's great lines. 

The island is mostly marsh and, even back in the mid-1980s when the course was built, there were all sorts of regulatory hoops to jump through. Course designer Tom Fazio commented, “When I started on Long Point, I had two kids. When I finished, I had four.”

•There's a neat annual event at Highlands CC in the North Carolina mountains when former Walker Cup players have a weekend reunion to help club members raise money for the local hospital. There were 24 Cuppers this year, including Tour winners Jerry Pate and Bob Murphy.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

AFL: Jacksonville Throttles Orlando in Playoff Opener

ORLANDO – Leading by a 35-27 count entering the fourth quarter, the Jacksonville Sharks scored 20 consecutive points to take command of Saturday’s game.

 The Sharks used that surge to capture a 55-33 victory over the Orlando Predators in the opening round of the 2015 Arena Football League postseason. With the win, the Sharks advance to square off against the Philadelphia Soul in the American Conference Championship.

Jacksonville (11-8) had built a 35-14 halftime lead thanks to two scores in the final minute of the first half. The Sharks were ahead by a 21-14 score when Tommy Grady fired a four-yard touchdown pass to Joe Hills with 30 seconds left in the half. On the ensuing Orlando (12-7) drive, Jack linebacker Alvin Ray Jackson made a tremendous diving interception to give the Sharks another chance with 13 seconds left in the half. Two plays later, Grady hit Hills again, as the third of their four touchdown connections gave Jacksonville a three-score halftime margin.

But the Predators turned the tide in the third quarter. Opening the second half with the football, Randy Hippeard marched his team down the field and connected with Larry Brackins for a four-yard score. On the Sharks’ next drive, pressure from Orlando’s front four forced Grady to throw incompletions on both third and fourth down, leading to a turnover on downs. Two plays later, Kendal Thompkins took a catch-and-run into the end zone to pull Orlando within one score, 35-27.

But in the fourth, the Sharks reasserted themselves and came up with big plays in all phases of the game. Early in the final frame, Grady connected with Hills again, as the four-yard touchdown pass gave Jacksonville a 42-27 lead. On Orlando’s next drive, Hippeard looked deep down the left sideline. The pass sailed long and bounced off the wall and into the arms of Greg Reid, who smartly gathered the football. After the play was initially ruled an incompletion, the Sharks challenged the call and saw the ruling overturned, as Reid’s interception gave the Sharks the football back.

Grady and the offense marched down the field with a 49-yard touchdown drive, thanks in large part to a big gain on a fourth-down throw to Hills. Hills’ catch brought the ball to Orlando’s one-yard line, and Derrick Ross powered in for his first score of the game, putting the Sharks on top by three scores.

Orlando got the ball back with seven minutes remaining, but the Sharks defense quickly forced another turnover on downs. On the first play of the next drive, Ross plowed through nearly every member of the Predators’ defense en route to an eight-yard touchdown run that put Jacksonville ahead, 55-27. Orlando did score on a touchdown pass to Greg Carr as time expired, but that play only served to change the final margin as the Sharks came away with a 22-point victory.

Earlier, Jacksonville’s defense set the tone. After a touchdown pass from Grady to Tiger Jones on the game’s first drive, Terrance Smith laid a huge hit on a Predator receiver in the end zone on fourth down, jarring the ball free and forcing a turnover on downs. The Sharks quickly turned that into another score, as Grady snuck in from a yard out to put Jacksonville in front, 14-0.

In his first playoff start in a Jacksonville uniform, Grady completed 29 of his 37 pass attempts for 291 yards and five touchdowns. London Crawford moved the chains on a consistent basis, racking up 13 receptions for 135 yards. Hills proved to be unstoppable in the red zone, as he caught 10 passes for 88 yards and four scores, while Jones hauled in six receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. Ross totaled 19 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

On defense, LaRoche Jackson led all players with 10 solo tackles, while Terrance Smith clamped down in coverage with 4.5 tackles and three pass breakups. Reid racked up six solo tackles to go along with a tackle for loss and his interception. Up front, the Sharks racked up a pair of sacks.

For Orlando, Hippeard went 25-of-46 for 287 yards and five touchdowns against his two interceptions. Carr led the Predators with nine receptions for 105 yards and two scores, while Rod Issac racked up eight total tackles and Nick Taylor recovered a fumble to go along with seven stops.

Jacksonville will now face the Philadelphia Soul in the American Conference Championship for the third time in the last four seasons. Kickoff from Wells Fargo Center is set for 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 23.

Media Awards

Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville QB Tommy Grady

Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Jacksonville JLB Alvin Ray Jackson

J. Lewis Small Playmaker of the Game – Jacksonville WR London Crawford

Cutters Catch of the Game – Jacksonville JLB Alvin Ray Jackson’s diving interception in the second quarter

AFL Highlight of the Game – Jacksonville DB Greg Reid’s off-the-wall interception in the fourth quarter

Thursday, August 13, 2015

NASL: Armada Dominate RailHawks in 3-0 Win

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - On Wednesday night, the Jacksonville Armada FC dominated the Carolina RailHawks in 3-0 win and avenged its only home loss this season.

Off the opening kickoff, Alhassane Keita made a run at the net. When he was rebuked, the RailHawks mounted a counterattack, but they were called offside when their forward got behind the defenders too quickly. Within five minutes, however, Carolina was pressuring the Armada defense, forcing them to concede three corners.

After the third corner in the fifth minute, things went silent as the Armada and RailHawks traded Shawn Nicklaw and Pascal Millien crosses with Nacho Novo runs offside. Everything changed in the 32nd minute when Armada forward Akeil Barrett ripped a shot from the top of the box. Although Carolina goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald knocked it away, Armada midfielder Jaime Castrillón was positioned perfectly, volleying the deflection into the back of the net.

Not wanting to be passive in the attack, the Armada (2W-1D-4L NASL Fall, 5-4-8 Combined) continued their high-powered offense the very next minute. Though he hadn't scored on his first four shots, Barrett was not deterred from being aggressive. Luckily for him, the fifth shot did the trick.

"I saw the spot open up and the defender was moving to my left, so I thought it would be a good decision to shoot," Barrett said.

And a good decision it was. The ball raced across the ground and beat the 'keeper to the bottom right corner.

Armada head coach Guillermo Hoyos said the continual attack is something he favors for his side.

"Right after we score that first goal, we don't want to go back and hold that one-goal lead," said Hoyos. "We want to keep attacking, attacking, attacking, and that's what I'm very happy (about the offense scoring right after their first goal)."

With the offense staying on top of Carolina's defense, it was tough for the RailHawks to muster any strength in their attacking half. Novo seemed to be the only player who could find an open space. Unfortunately for him, it always seemed to be offside. Hoyos said it was a hallmark of his defense to put Carolina's offense in this situation.

"Our defense was taking away the ball so we didn't get attacked by (Carolina)," Hoyos said. "You could see (our defense) get a lot of offsides because we're trying to push the line up."

One of the defenders having a successful time against the RailHawks was Nicklaw. Nicklaw, who received a red card in the last home match, continually pressed up the right flank and sent in cross after cross.

"It felt good personally," said Nicklaw. "But it's a team effort, and we were just clicking on all cylinders today."

The second half proved to be a continuation of the first. The offensive attack, led by Jemal Johnson, continued to stay on top of the RailHawks' defense. In the 62nd minute, Johnson' efforts paid off when he fired a bullet from the outside of the box into the right side of the net.

When the final horns sounded, the crowd of 5,652 roared at the victory. The Armada FC had won another home match and no matter what player or coach was spoken to, the reason for success at home was the same: the fans.

"It's definitely our fans," Johnson said. "They always get behind us, and it's a great crowd for us and they get all excited and amped for the game. (Playing at home) is a good chance to play in front of some good people."

The RailHawks (2-2-3, 5-7-5) are the first team the Armada have been able to avenge a loss against. Saturday they will try to do it twice in a row when they take on the Atlanta Silverbacks, a team they've lost to twice so far. Nicklaw knows that they need to channel their success against the RailHawks and bring it to the match against the Silverbacks.

"We're going to enjoy the result tonight, but then we've got to focus on Saturday," he said. "Overall, we're starting to get momentum now, so hopefully we can continue into (Atlanta)."

Tickets to Saturday's match at Community First Park, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET, can be purchased by calling 1.844.2.Armada or visiting

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

AFL: Field Set for 2015 Playoffs

The field for the 2015 Arena Football League Playoffs is set, with eight teams heading into postseason play.

The No. 1 seed in the National Conference belongs to the Pacific Division champion San Jose SaberCats (17-1), who tied the 2014 Cleveland Gladiators’ record for the most regular season wins in AFL history this year. 

San Jose will play host to the No. 4-seeded Portland Thunder (5-13), a franchise heading to the playoffs for the second time in as many years. 

San Jose leads the overall series 6-0; however, this will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams in postseason play. Kickoff for the matchup is set for 11:00 p.m. ET Friday night on ESPN2.

On the other side of the bracket, the East Division champion Philadelphia Soul (15-3), fresh off from tying their best regular season record in franchise history, are set for a rematch with their opponents in Week 20, the Cleveland Gladiators (8-10). 

This will be the second consecutive season the Soul and Gladiators matchup in the AFL Quarterfinals. Cleveland edged Philadelphia in last season’s opening round thanks to a 36-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. The No. 1 seed in American Conference, Philadelphia has found vindication three times this season, sweeping their division rivals in regular season play. 

The two squads have each recorded a victory over the other in the playoffs, with the winner of both contests going on to play in the ArenaBowl (Philadelphia in 2008, Cleveland in 2014). Kickoff for the latest meeting is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. ET Saturday on CBS Sports Network.

Also in action on Saturday night, the South Division champion and No. 2 seed in the American Conference, the Orlando Predators (12-6) will match up for a fourth time this year with their intrastate rival, the No. 3 seed Jacksonville Sharks (10-8). 

The Predators beat the Sharks two-out-of-three times this season, though the two squads are an even 1-1 against each other in playoff games. Jacksonville has hosted Orlando in both previous postseason contests, most recently defeating the Predators en route to their first and only ArenaBowl championship in 2011. 

Kickoff from the Amway Center in Orlando is set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday night on ESPN3.

The three-time defending ArenaBowl champion and winners of five consecutive West Division crowns, the Arizona Rattlers (14-4) will host the wildcard Spokane Shock (7-11) in the AFL Quarterfinals. Arizona, the two-seed in the National Conference, edged the No. 3-seeded Shock two games to one in this year’s three-game regular season series. 

The Rattlers a 2-1 advantage in postseason play, having last defeated Spokane in the 2013 National Conference Championship Game. This year’s Quarterfinal contest is set for 9:00 p.m. ET Saturday night on ESPN3.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

GOLF NOTES: Club Team Championship is Aug. 31

Jax Golf News
The battle among Jacksonville-area clubs will be Aug. 31 at Timuquana.

It's the Club Team Championship and it's co-sponsored by the Jacksonville Area GA and the Northern Chapter of the North Florida PGA.

Jacksonville G&CC will defend its title in the field, which is anticipated to be about 25 teams.

Teams must include a PGA pro employed by the entering club and three amateurs with established handicaps at the club.

The top six teams will be in the payout plus there's an additional $500 added to the professionals' skins pool.

If the field doesn't reach 25 teams, clubs may enter an extra team but must designate which one is playing for the trophy. Both will be eligible for payouts.

Information is available through each club's JAGA directors.

In other JAGA news, planning is underway for the 2016 meeting and tournament schedules. The association directors will meet seven times during the year with each meeting at a different club.

Monday, August 10, 2015

ESPN, Florida Citrus Sports Announce 2018 Orlando Kickoff Game

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Alabama Crimson Tide will play the Louisville Cardinals in the Orlando Citrus Bowl during college football’s opening weekend in 2018. The neutral-site season opener is part of an annual series of Orlando Kickoff games.

The 2018 matchup is the second announced game in a multi-year agreement between Florida Citrus Sports (FCSports) and ESPN Events, a division  of ESPN, to host major neutral-site, regular-season college football games in the Orlando Citrus Bowl. 

The Orlando Citrus Bowl is already home to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl and Florida Blue Florida Classic games. Neither school has played in the stadium since its near complete reconstruction a year ago.

“This game continues a trend of big-time events landing in the brand-new Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium,” said FCSports President Harold Mills. “Alabama and Louisville is a great matchup to start the 2018 season and yet another reason to become a season ticket member of our organization -- to get access to premium seats for games like this.”

“We are thrilled to have the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Louisville Cardinals play in the Orlando Citrus Bowl to open the 2018 college football season,” said Pete Derzis, Senior Vice President, ESPN Events. “This game has all the makings to be not only a quality matchup of two great college football programs, but also serve as a wonderful experience for the student-athletes and fans.”

The Tide and Cardinals have met just three times previous, with the most recent tilt coming in 1991 and Alabama leading the all-time series, 2-1.

To date, Alabama has played twice in Orlando, with this being its first neutral-site regular-season game in The City Beautiful. It won the 1995 CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl, 24-7, over Ohio State, and was victorious in the 2011 Capital One Bowl, 49-7 over Michigan State.

“The 2018 game will mark the seventh consecutive neutral-site season opener for the Crimson Tide,” said Director of Athletics Bill Battle. “Neutral-site games have been good for Alabama in national exposure as well as financially under Coach Saban’s leadership. Our first regular-season neutral-site game in Orlando will provide another great matchup of national interest against an excellent Louisville program, but is also a new venue that I believe our fans will enjoy.”

This will be the first neutral-site regular-season game for the Cardinals in Orlando as well. Their lone prior contest at the Orlando Citrus Bowl came in the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, a 36-9 win over Miami.

“Kicking off the 2018 season with a great opponent like Alabama is a tremendous way to start the season,” said Louisville Athletics Director Tom Jurich. “We continually want to play highly respected opponents each year, and adding a traditional power like Alabama in the opener will certainly be an outstanding challenge. We have a vision to be the best we can be, and to do that, we have to play the best.  We are also thrilled to be headed back to a destination city like Orlando. I know our fan base will respond for this tremendous match-up.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

NASL: First-Place Ottawa Keeps Unbeaten Streak Alive; Armada Falls in Tampa

NEW YORK  -First-place Ottawa Fury FC extended its unbeaten streak to 12 games on a Saturday night that saw 24 goals scored across five North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season encounters.

Andrew Wiedeman scored goals in the 54th and 64th minutes as Ottawa defeated Indy Eleven, 4-1, before a crowd of 9,866 at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis. Over the 12-game unbeaten streak, Ottawa has allowed only six goals and has recorded seven shutouts.

While Ottawa seemed in control in Indianapolis, other games around the NASL were the scene of breathtaking goalscoring outbursts that dramatically changed the complexion of several games.

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers built a three-goal lead on the strength of a pair of goals from Walter Ramirez, but then saw the perhaps aptly named Cardiac Cosmos rally to tie the game when Sebastián Guenzatti scored in second-half injury time. After failing to win in their first three games of the Fall Season, the Cosmos have picked up seven points in their last three.

It was a seesaw battle in Atlanta, with the Silverbacks and the San Antonio Scorpions trading goals throughout. Omar Cummings, San Antonio's veteran striker from Jamaica, increased his leading-league goal tally to 10 when he scored twice in a 3-3 draw.

Tampa Bay, too, built a three-goal lead, but managed to hold off Jacksonville, which received two second-half goals from Alhassane Keita. The Armada FC, however, still fell one goal short in the Coastal Cup clash.

And finally, Christian Ramirez scored for the sixth game running, but Minnesota United FC had to settle for a point against visiting FC Edmonton. Tomi Ameobi scored his sixth goal of the season to tie the game for the Eddies in the second half.

Tampa Bay Rowdies 3, Jacksonville Armada FC 2

The Rowdies (2-1-3, 7) jumped in front in the seventh minute when Martin Nuñéz led Maicon Santos into the Jacksonville penalty area. Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo got an arm on the Brazilian's left-footed shot, but could not keep it from bounding across the goal line. Santos doubled his goal total on the night and doubled the Tampa Bay lead when he scored again in the 32nd minute following an error by Gallardo. Just when it looked like the Rowdies would run away with the game after Brian Shriver's goal in the 50th minute, Alhassane Keita converted from the penalty spot to put Jacksonville back in the match in the 54th minute. It was Keita again for Jacksonville (1-1-4, 4) in the 67th minute, but it was too little, too late for the visitors.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers 3, New York Cosmos 3

The classic NASL rivalry that dates to 1977 has been dominated by the Cosmos, even in the Modern Era. That dominance nearly ended Saturday night before 5,667 at Lockhart Stadium, but the Strikers (1W-4-D-2L, 7 points) squandered a three-goal lead, and settled for a draw. Fort Lauderdale still has not defeated New York in the league's Modern Era. The Strikers took advantage of Walter Restrepo's foul in the penalty area as Gabriel scored from the spot - the first goal of his NASL career. 

Fort Lauderdale was the beneficiary of another foul in the area by the Cosmos (2-3-1, 9) and Walter Ramírez converted the penalty kick in the 48th minute. Ramírez scored again in the 59th minute after a brilliant solo run of more than 40 yards in which he eluded a defender and goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer before sliding the ball into the net. The Cosmos refused to pack it in, though. Adam Moffat replaced Haji Wright, who was making his first team starting debut, and scored four minutes after Leo Fernandes as the Cosmos chopped into the Strikers' three-goal lead. That lead evaporated in added time when Sebastián Guenzatti turned on a ball six yards from goal and tied the score.

Atlanta Silverbacks 3, San Antonio Scorpions 3

Atlanta's Pedro Mendes picked up where he left off on Wednesday - when he scored twice - to fire the Silverbacks into the lead in the 23rd minute. It was his fifth goal in the last six games. Two minutes later, Omar Cummings scored his league-leading ninth goal of the season to tie the game. The Scorpions (1-2-3, 5) lost Honduran international Martin Chávez to a hamstring injury; he was replaced by César Elizondo to start the second half. Atlanta (4-2-2, 14) regained the lead in the 51st minute when Junior Burgos hit a swerving free kick from 30 yards that went up and over the defensive wall and dipped beautifully inside the near post. 

The Silverbacks grabbed a two-goal lead with Kosuke Kimura leading an attack up the right side before crossing to Jaime Chavez for the goal. Billy Forbes scored for San Antonio in the 60th minute to cut Atlanta's lead once again, and then Cummings scored his 10th of the year with a perfectly placed shot into the upper corner in the 70th minute. The draw ended Atlanta's three-game winning streak, while the Scorpions have not won a game in their last five.

Ottawa Fury FC 4, Indy Eleven 1

Sinisa Ubiparipovic gave first-place Ottawa Fury FC a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute, knocking home a pass from Tom Heinemann at Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis. Ottawa built a two-goal lead in the second half on goals by Andrew Wiedeman and Mauro Eustaquio, which were sandwiched around Duke Lacroix's tally for Indy Eleven. Wiedeman scored his second of the game, in the 64th minute, to ensure that Ottawa Fury FC (6-1-0 19) extended his 12-game unbeaten streak and kept its hold on first place in the Fall Season Standings and regained its spot atop the Combined Standings. The loss was the fourth straight for Indy Eleven (1-2-4, 5), which is now winless in six games.

Minnesota United FC 1, FC Edmonton 1

Christian Ramirez upped his goalscoring streak to six straight games when he converted a penalty kick in the 47th minute to give Minnesota (2-3-2, 9) the lead before 9,077 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. For FC Edmonton (3-3-2, 12), Tomi Ameobi tied the game in the 70th minute after Lance Laing picked up a loose ball, carried it for 20 yards and sent in a perfectly weighted cross that Ameobi tapped past Loons goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

JU: Mahan Joins Women's Basketball Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville University women's basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin has hired Ed Mahan to fill the position of assistant coach. Mahan previously served as the Graduate Assistant-   Director of Basketball Operations and Analytics at Marshall University.

With the Dolphins, he will be responsible for handling all operational activities for the program as well as developing JU's post players.

"I am excited to have Ed join our family," said McCuin. "He is a tireless worker and as loyal as they come. I have had the pleasure of working with Ed at Clemson, and when this position opened up, there was no question that he was the right person for the job."

Mahan and Coach McCuin's relationship dates back to 2010 when he served as the head student assistant for the Clemson women's basketball program and she was an assistant coach. 

His duties with the Tigers included coordinating travel logistics, delegating responsibilities for game day preparation and organizing and distributing team equipment. Mahan also assisted during practice and oversaw weekly and daily managerial duties of three other student managers.

SUNS: Jacksonville Belts Five HR’s in the Win

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Jacksonville Suns (15-26, 44-66) used five home runs as a team to power past the Montgomery Biscuits (21-19, 55-53) 7-2 Friday night from Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.

Suns starter Austin Brice (W, 4-8) worked five innings allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits while walking and striking out three. Jared Mortensen (L, 6-5) in his start for Montgomery generated five and a third frames surrendering five runs (all earned) on six hits while not walking a batter and striking out six.

The scoring would begin in the top of the second when David Adams (HR, 4) and Viosergy Rosa (HR, 6) delivered back-to-back home runs to leap Jacksonville ahead 2-0.

Moving to the last of the second frame the Biscuits got on the board with a run. A lead off triple off the bat of Dayron Varona was rewarded, when Daniel Robertson arched a RBI sacrifice fly into right to make it a 2-1 ballgame.

In the fourth J.T. Riddle (HR, 5) belted a solo home run to lead off the frame and push Jacksonville ahead 3-1.

Flashing ahead to the bottom of the fourth it was Dayron Veroan being hit by a pitch to start off the inning, that was soon followed by a run scoring double by Jake Bauers making the tally now 3-2 in the Suns favor.

In the top of the sixth Jacksonville got a pair of baserunners on for Rosa’s (HR, 7) second home run of the night, this blast plated three runs, and the Suns now controlled a 6-2 advantage.

Flashing ahead to the top of the ninth, Zack Cox (HR, 4) ripped a solo home run off of Biscuits reliever Parker Markel to make it a 7-2 contest.

Out of the bullpen for the Suns Alex Burgos hurled three scoreless innings while not allowing a baserunner in his Jacksonville debut. Tyler Higgins tossed a scoreless ninth.

The Suns and Biscuits will square off again Saturday night with a first pitch set for 7:35 p.m. ET from Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium. The Suns will send out lefty Chipper Smith (2-2, 4.81 ERA) while the Biscuits will counter with right-hander Austin Pruitt (6-5, 3.10 ERA).

Friday, August 7, 2015

NASL: Atlanta, Edmonton Look To Gain Ground On First-Place Ottawa

NEW YORK  - After a busy Wednesday night that saw the New York Cosmos, Atlanta Silverbacks, and FC Edmonton pick up wins at home, Week 6 of the North American Soccer League (NASL) Fall Season rolls on this Saturday with a full slate of five matches.

The red-hot Silverbacks will go for their fourth straight victory when they host the San Antonio Scorpions at 7:30 p.m. ET. Three other matches will kick off at the same time, as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Tampa Bay Rowdies, and Indy Eleven play host to the Cosmos, Jacksonville Armada FC, and Ottawa Fury FC respectively. 

Rounding out Saturday night's fixtures is an 8 p.m. ET clash between Minnesota United FC and FC Edmonton at NSC Stadium in Blaine, Minn.

Here is a full weekend preview:

Atlanta Silverbacks vs. San Antonio Scorpions
Saturday, August 8 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Atlanta Silverbacks Park | Atlanta, Ga.
Watch | U.S. (National) - ESPN3, Canada (National) -, San Antonio (Local) - KSAT MeTV 12.2
Since signing with the Silverbacks on July 8, forward Pedro Mendes has scored four times in five matches, including a two-goal midweek performance in the club's 2-1 defeat of the Strikers. Mendes and strike partner Jaime Chavez have been the catalysts for a remarkable turnaround - one that has seen Atlanta rip off 13 points in its last six matches. Coming to town to take on the second-place Silverbacks is a well-rested Scorpions side that just had an off week. Besides using the week to get healthy, San Antonio made several impressive roster moves, bringing in Portuguese international Daniel Fernandes, Jamaican international Khari Stephenson, and Honduran defender Milton Palacios. 

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. New York Cosmos
Saturday, August 8 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Lockhart Stadium | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Watch | U.S. (National) - ESPN3, U.S. (National) - ONE World Sports, Canada (National) -, Fort Lauderdale (Local) - SFL-TV
The Cosmos will be feeling good about themselves when they head down to South Florida this weekend. Giovanni Savarese's side has left its slow start to the Fall Season in the dust, picking up six points in a period of four days with wins over Fort Lauderdale and Minnesota. New York now heads down to Lockhart Stadium to face a Strikers side that they just defeated, 2-0, at Shuart Stadium last Sunday. The Strikers are trending in the opposite direction lately, having dropped each of their last two games. Even worse, Günter Kronsteiner's side will be shorthanded on Saturday. Red cards to forward Stefano Pinho, midfielder James Marcelin, and defender Karsten Smith in the team's midweek loss to Atlanta will force several reserves to step up against the Cosmos.

Indy Eleven vs. Ottawa Fury FC
Saturday, August 8 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Carroll Stadium | Indianapolis, Ind.
Watch | U.S. (National) - ESPN3, Canada (National) -, Indianapolis (Local) - WISH-TV
Ottawa Fury FC may have lost their top spot in the league's Combined Standings the other day, but they still remain in first place in the Fall Season Standings. The Canadian side is as confident as it has ever been, and they carry an impressive 11-game unbeaten streak into this weekend's road clash against Indy. Marc Dos Santos' men have only conceded five goals over the course of the streak - one that includes a staggering seven clean sheets. Saturday's matchup may play into Fury FC's hands too, as Indy has only been able to find the back of the net once in its last three matches. These two sides met on July 19, with Ottawa walking away 4-2 winners at TD Place.

Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Jacksonville Armada FC
Sunday, August 8 | 7:30 p.m. ET
Al Lang Stadium | St. Petersburg, Fla.
Watch | U.S. (National) - ESPN3, Canada (National) -, Tampa-St. Petersburg (Local) - Great 38, Jacksonville (Local) - CW17
Another Coastal Cup matchup hits Al Lang Stadium on Saturday night, with the Rowdies hosting league newcomer Armada FC. Each club has just four points to show for itself so far this Fall Season. Visiting Jacksonville is beginning to find its way, having picked up four points in its last two encounters, while Tampa Bay has taken just one point from its last four matches. Saturday's hosts will be boosted by the addition of Omar Salgado, who recently joined the club on loan from Liga MX side Tigres, while the Armada FC can feel confident about their attack after scoring three goals in a wild draw against Minnesota last weekend.

Minnesota United FC vs. FC Edmonton
Saturday, August 8 | 8 p.m. ET
NSC Stadium | Blaine, Minn.
Watch | U.S. (National) - ESPN3, Canada (National) -, Twin Cities (Local) - KSTC45-TV
FC Edmonton returned to its winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Indy on Wednesday, and now they enter the weekend with a shot at moving up to second place in the Fall Season Standings. The Eddies visit the Loons on Saturday with as close to a full roster as they have had in a long time. Key attacking players like Tomi Ameobi, Sainey Nyassi, and Daryl Fordyce are finally back in action, complimenting the recent addition of El Salvador international Dustin Corea. For Minnesota, they will be looking to bounce back after a tough midweek loss in New York. Forward Christian Ramirez extended his scoring streak to five matches, although it wasn't enough in a 2-1 loss to the Cosmos.