Celebration time after the Jacksonville Armada salvaged a draw from the jaws of defeat Wednesday?
Not for head coach Mark Lowry.
Shaky shooting early means finishes that are too close for comfort.
“I feel like it every game,” Lowry said. “We do everything right, but we don’t score goals.”
The Armada coach sees an area for improvement, a big one, as the club prepares for its North American Soccer League spring season finale Saturday night against the Indy Eleven in Indianapolis.
Ranked third in the NASL, Jacksonville’s attack is dominating games of late. It’s just not winning them.
“We definitely think we should’ve won the last two games,” forward Derek Gebhard said regarding the Armada’s draws with Puerto Rico FC during the past week.
The Armada held overwhelming possession edges in both meetings, 66 percent last Saturday and 62 percent Wednesday, and outshot their foes 12-5 in the more recent clash.
But they came back with just two draws instead of two wins.
“If we don’t capitalize on our chances in the areas that we get into, that’s what’s going to happen,” Lowry said.
That breeds its own concerns.
With goals in short supply, he’s concerned that the team might start pressing too hard. Lowry said he saw signs of that on Wednesday from players like top-scoring midfielder Zach Steinberger, who hasn’t scored since May 28.
“He’s trying to make something happen, maybe a little bit too much, and overdoing it at times,” Lowry said. “But you can’t knock his effort, and his work rate’s tremendous.”
In the last month, the Armada’s actual scoring feats have been reduced to a one-man band. Apart from Gebhard, no other Armada player has scored for exactly 400 minutes.
That goal occurred in the Armada’s last trip to the Midwest, a 4-1 road rout of Indy on June 10 that ranks as the highest-scoring road victory in franchise history.
“We’re not going in there with any misconceptions that the same thing will happen that happened last time,” Steinberger said.
After starting the year with a seemingly interminable string of six draws, Indy is unbeaten in its last four games.
They’ve picked up the pace behind one player who doesn’t struggle to find the net: striker Justin Braun, who ranks third in the NASL with seven goals.
Once the final whistle blows Saturday, the Armada players might be able to get their scoring woes out of their system. They’ll have about four days of free time before returning to train for the NASL fall season, which starts on July 30.
“It’s very much needed, I think, for everyone involved, even the coaching staff,” Steinberger said. “It’s good to get away, take a couple of days and spend time with family.”