INDIANAPOLIS (March 18, 2018) – While several other USL teams opened their 2018
regular season accounts, “Indiana’s Team” finished its final preseason matchups, the
first of which ended in a nil-nil draw against NPSL side Jacksonville Armada FC on

According to Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie, this result was just what the
team needed. “It was an excellent game,” Rennie said. “It was exactly what we needed
at this stage of the preseason. It was a game where we were playing people for 90
minutes and not making changes or trying to win the game; we’re just making sure
everyone is ready for the first [regular season] game.”

Indy started the match strong with the help from hard attacking moments by frontmen
Soony Saad, Jack McInerney, and midfielder Ben Speas. In the third minute, Saad
began his run into the top of Armada’s box, only to be cut short from a striking
opportunity when three visiting defenders surrounded the Lebanese forward and
removed the ball from his possession. Saad would get his chance again in the sixth
minutes after sending a strike along the far edge of Jacksonville’s right goal post,
but the ball curved just enough to hit the side netting out of bounds.

Jacksonville got their first look at goal in the 15^th minute. Armada midfielder
J.C. Banks came dashing into Indy defending half, but quickly gained the attention
of defenders Karl Ouimette and Reiner Ferreia. Feeling the pressure from the “New in
Blue” defenders, Banks laid off a grounded pass forward towards a waiting teammate.
Fortunately for Indy, the pass was a touch too hard, sending it pass Banks’ intended
target and collected with ease by Eleven goaltender Owain Fôn Williams.

It became Indy’s game in terms of possession as the “Boys in Blue” contained the
Armada to playing in the midfield for a large portion of the first half. Short
passes lead Indy into several, breakaway plays—several of which came close to
scoring opportunities. In the 32^nd minute, Indy defender Matthew Watson made his
way forward through the midfielder after a chain of passing created a gap in
Armada’s defensive formation. Jacksonville’s goalkeeper charged off of his line
towards Watson to try and end the play, but the Redditch, England native responded
with a cheeky chip over the trialing keeper. Sadly, the chipped ball got just far
enough out of reach for Watson to attempt a shot and ultimately ended out of play on
the right side of the goal.

Continuing to ask questions, XI forward McInerney made his run at goal five minutes
later. In the 37^th minute, McInerney found himself in the center of Armada’s
18-yard box when a crossed ball came falling in his direction. As the ball came
down, McInerney worked to deflect it into the net, but his efforts failed to
materialize into a lead as the ball ended to the right of the goal once more.

Jacksonville would get one more attempt before the end of the half. In the 44^th
minute, an Armada’s player came rushing in along the side into Indy’s half. Making
his way pass Ferreia and midfielder Seth Moses, Jacksonville sent a hard, grounded
cross from the center-left of Indy’s 18-yard box toward Indy’s right goal post. It
was there another Armada player met the ball and sent a shot towards the net. But,
the strike lacked the power to make it beyond Fôn Williams, who calmly collected.

The second half started quickly in Jacksonville’s favor. The Armada were awarded a
penalty kick in 48^th minute after a challenge in the edge of Indy’s box—it was here
that Jacksonville’s closest attempt at a goal died and one of the greatest moments
for Indy shined. Armada stepped up to the spot and made a go to sink in the goal in
the lower right corner, but Fôn Williams made a quick dive to deflect the ball back
into play. Armada made two more attempts to score while Fôn Williams was still
recovering, but both strikes were forced away by the Welsh international.

The match wore on as both sides continued to trade possession and made runs deep
into each other’s half, but each side failed to make any substantial chances. The
final whistle blew without any serious incidents or errors from either club. Coach
Rennie recognized a key lesson to be learned as the “Boys in Blue” prepare to enter
the upcoming USL season next weekend. “I thought we played very well, especially in
the first half,” said Rennie. “We created some really good chances. The biggest
thing I would take away from the game is we need to be more clinical when taking our
chances, but that’s part of getting into the rhythm of the season.”
Today’s back-to-back matches mark the end of preseason for the “Boys in Blue”. Next
Saturday, Indy Eleven will make its USL debut as the squad hits the road to take on
USL mainstays Richmond Kickers.