Austin Aztex PDL life has come to an end as they fell in the Southern Conference Championship game to Ocala Stampede 2-0 at House Park on Sunday night.
The result is a measure of revenge for Ocala, who were knocked-out at the same stage in the 2013 PDL Playoffs and ends the Aztex title defense.
Austin started the match well, but the Ocala defense made life difficult for the Aztex, despire Jeff Harwell and Eddie Campbell pressuring early but not finding the target.
But 11 minutes in the Aztex made a crucial mistake as KarambaJanneh’s speed allowed him to beat the Austin defense and then cut the ball past Devin Perales to open the scoring.
With the lead, Ocala were able to sit back and absorb the Austin pressure, looking to play on the counter with the speed that resulted in the Janneh goal to still pose a threat.
In the 22nd minute a free-kick gave the Aztex a golden opportunity as Chuy Cortes stepped up and sent in a powerful shot that scraped the post on the way out.
Five minutes later Austin had a golden opportunity as Eddie Campbell sent a through ball for Adam Black, clean through one-on-one but he couldn’t find the target.
Austin kept attacking throughout the half, but the Ocala defense was determined to not give up the lead, holding firm to their 1-0 lead at the break.
At half time the Aztex introduced two attacking players, in the form of Cruz Oronos and BubacarrJobe with the two having an impact almost instantly.
One minute in to the second half, Jobe was able to break through on the wing and shoot but right at the keeper; before showing his danger again in the 49th minute as he stole possession and found Eddie Campbell, only for Campbell to be denied by some quick work from the keeper to keep Austin off the score sheet.
But ten minutes in to the half the Stampede made it two as IllijaIllic forced another mistake from the Aztex defense, allowing him to steal possession and run at goal before shooting to double the lead.
That seemed to spur on Ocala and just three minutes later they could have scored what would have clinched the match but were denied by an impressive point-blank save.
Ocala were on top for much of the second half but from the 65th minute Austin’s desperation allowed them to gain the upper hand, but still Ocala’s defense was too strong to break through.
In the 73rd minute the Aztex had another chance as Campbell made a superb diagonal run to get on the end of a cross but he sent his header wide.
With 15 minutes to play and needing two goals, Austin had to make an attacking change bringing Andrew Fox on to play with an additional striker.
The extra man helped give Austin chances but still they couldn’t find a goal as Ocala stood firm, Jobe went close before 10 minutes from time he was able to send in a cross for Andrew Fox, who cur inside his defender but saw his effort saved by the keeper, securing Ocala passage to the National Championship stage next weekend.