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Cosmos beat Jacksonville to stay atop NASL standings

New York Cosmos midfielder Andres Alexander Flores Mejia

New York Cosmos midfielder Andres Alexander Flores Mejia (11) celebrates with New York Cosmos midfielder Adam Moffat (16) after scoring against Jacksonville Armanda FC during the first half of a game at Hofstra University's James M. Shuart Stadium on Wednesday, July 13, 2016. Credit: Brad Penner

The Cosmos lost an opportunity to win the NASL spring season title by failing to close out two games. They also were forced to overcome a lot of 11th-hour drama in their first two matches of the fall season.

So they made sure they were not going to have any repeat performances Wednesday night, scoring early and often against Jacksonville Armada FC and then managing the final minutes.

Andres Flores and David Diosa connected for their first goals of the year and Adam Moffat added another to power the Cosmos to a 3-0 victory before 3,827 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

The victory allowed the Cosmos to solidify their position for the fall season (3-0-0, 9 points) and the combined standings (9-4-0, 27). Jacksonville fell to 1-1-1 and 2-6-5.

“We were able to be clinical to finish our opportunities,” Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “It was one of our best performances. We were in complete control of the match.”

As opposed to their last two matches. The Cosmos had to sweat out a 2-1 home win over Ottawa two weeks ago and a dramatic 3-2 road triumph in Miami Saturday.

This time, things went much more smoothly.

“The team has been growing and getting confidence in the last minutes of the match,” Savarese said.

Playing his first game since his mistake started the Cosmos on their downward spiral when they were eliminated by the New England Revolution in their Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup elimination last month, goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer made an impact at both ends of the field.

He produced two spectacular saves to record his seventh shutout, denying Junior Sandoval in stoppage time.

“It’s huge for his confidence,” said Moffat, who scored off a 24-yard scorcher in the 79th minute. “That save in the end was incredible. I was sure they were scoring on that.”

Maurer almost scored himself in the 10th minute. He booted a goal kick the length of the field that bounced twice. Goalkeeper Sean Lewis misjudged it but scrambled back to swat the ball away before it could cross the goal line.

“It was one of those things,” Maurer said. “I wasn’t trying to score.”

Lewis couldn’t stop Flores in the 27th minute as the El Salvadoran international drilled home a Lucky Mkosana feed for a 1-0 lead.

Flores turned playmaker in the 36th minute, crossing the ball to Diosa, who tallied from six yards.

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