AFC Ann Arbor played host to Michigan Stars Friday night in what was sure to be a tough NPSL match up. The Mighty Oak were looking to continue their fine form in the NPSL this season and in the first half both sides fought hard to gain dominance.
The opening five minutes were largely back and forth, but AFC looked the stronger side, looking to dictate possession. This led to some sweeping attacking moves.
The Mighty Oak took their early chances well, and in the 17th minute “Super Dario” Suarez was at it again. His run between the Stars backline was found by Yuri Farkas’, leaving Dario with little to do, and he slid past the Stars keeper to make the score 1-0 for AFC Ann Arbor.
However, Michigan Stars refused to go away, and just seven minutes later they found themselves right back in the match. A scramble in the Mighty Oak box led to a low shot that found its way though a tangle of bodies into the back of the net.
For the rest of the half, the challenges came in hard and fast from both sides, but neither team was able to score a go-ahead goal.
The second half kicked off in much the same way, and though AFC dominated more possession, they were still unsuccessful in their attempts to pull ahead.
In the 86th minute, Michigan Stars striker Shawn Claud Lawson found space and took aim, beating Fabian Veit in the AFC net to give Stars a 2-1 advantage with only minutes to go. Despite an extended period of stoppage time after a big scuffle near the Stars goal, AFC Ann Arbor ultimately fell 2-1 to Michigan Stars at Hollway Field.
The result was the first ever NPSL loss for the team, and AFC Ann Arbor coach Eric Rudland was not pleased with the goals allowed. “The goals we gave away were very poor,” he said. “Obviously, that’s on us.” The one thing he did take away from this match, however, was the fighting spirit showed by the men. “I though we fought well until the end, the 94th or 95th minute,” he said.
A tough result after a very physical match, but the Mighty Oak remain in first place of the Great Lakes West and have 7 days to recover and prepare for their next match, June 10th, away at Lansing United.