Devin Mendez Joins The Mighty Oak

IMG_3081.jpg

AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to welcome Devin Mendez in for the 2019 NPSL season. Mendez joins soon-to-be club and collegiate teammate Ryan Pierson as the second member of the University of Detroit roster on this season’s side. Mendez spent the 2017 season on the sidelines as a redshirt but featured prominently with the Titans as a redshirt freshman last season. Interestingly enough, he will be the second UDM goalkeeper (past or present) involved with The Mighty Oak on any level this season – women’s goalkeeping coach Jim Grewe played for the Titans from 1997-2000.

Wearing the number one shirt on a collegiate level, Mendez described his season as a “baptism of fire”. He started the majority of games in net, making fourteen starts in fifteen appearances. Indeed, the redshirt freshman netminder was tested on a frequent basis as he saw 201 shots and was forced into making 54 saves. He saw one shot for nearly every seven minutes spent in net, and averaged 3.64 saves per appearance. Despite the lack of team success for the Horizon League side, Mendez acknowledges that it has made him a better player, saying, “I believe that I learned a lot from my mistakes and have become much better from them. I hope that my new mentality on getting better every day and winning will help me succeed in the NPSL season.”

In addition to his collegiate experience with Detroit, Mendez was a standout in high school. A native of Tecumseh, Michigan, and attendee of Tecumseh High School, Mendez was an All-State goalkeeper as a senior who also set single-season records for shutouts, saves, and fewest goals allowed. With Tecumseh just a forty-five-minute drive down US-12, the newest member to the AFCAA Family has a connection to the town itself. As he stated, “Ann Arbor has always been a second home to me so I am very excited to finally wear the AFC crest.” With an already established understanding and love for the city, it should make it that much easier for Mendez to mesh well over the summer season.

Devin-Mendez.jpg

When discussing his game itself in net, Mendez responded, “Some of my greatest strengths as a goalkeeper are my shot stopping ability and strength.” This should come as no surprise, considering his workload in terms of making saves both at the high school and collegiate level, but it follows the trend of AFC goalkeepers who are exceptional shot stoppers. Fans will be well familiar with Mike Novotny, now with the USL Championship’s Hartford Athletic, and TJ Tomasso, a former MLS goalkeeper in his own right, along with other keepers such as Nick Barry, who performed brilliantly in net after Novotny’s exit to play professional in Sweden. Each different keeper had their own style, but all were superb in making timely saves. With Jeff Shuk the man coaching Mendez this summer, the hope will surely be that when in net, he will follow the mark that the goalies before him had set.

On a more personal level, Mendez responded to the question of what drew him to AFC as a club by saying, “I was attracted to the club because of their amazing fan base and previous record. I am very excited to play in front of the people of Ann Arbor and give them my all on the field.” It is no surprise, by now, that players want to play within a winning culture that head coach Eric Rudland has helped foster in front of a supportive fanbase.

“I am expecting to come into a team that is focused on winning the title,” Mendez said, when speaking about goals. He continued, saying, “So, I believe this season is going to be a great learning experience for me, and hopefully I can help them to continue their winning ways.” Excitement is certainly in the air for all involved with the club, and with the addition of Mendez, the hope is that when called upon, he will be able to provide a spark to deliver in net.


About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

AFC Ann Arbor Welcomes Lukas von Lienen to the Club

Photo Credit: Ashley Huss (WMU Athletics)

Photo Credit: Ashley Huss (WMU Athletics)

AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to announce the newest member to the 2019 squad, goalkeeper Lukas von Lienen. The first keeper to be announced for the club, von Lienen joins the likes of T.J. Tomasso and Mike Novotny as players set to suit up at the position for AFCAA, which has a rich history of the spot. Coming off his freshman season at Western Michigan, von Lienen is a native German who spent time at the high-club ranks before making the move over to WMU where he won the starting job at one of the MAC’s premier schools.

As the starting keeper, von Lienen appeared in sixteen games, starting fifteen of them. The Broncos were 8-3-3 with him in net, and the German held a MAC-low 1.00 goals-against-average while making fifty saves over the course of the season. His save percentage of 75.8% is the highest since 2015 – Toronto FC goalkeeper’s Drew Shepherd’s sophomore season – of any Bronco spending at least fifteen games in net. He recorded three shutouts on the season, two of those being full-game efforts, and had a season-high of eight saves in his final outing against Akron.

To go with his high level of collegiate production is his impressive youth level exploits. He spent some important developmental years with the Bundesliga’s Werder Bremen’s youth ranks. When talking about his strengths as a player, he highlights those years in the German side’s academy as a formative experience. “Learning the European way of soccer at one of the best youth academies in Germany, the focus on goalkeepers was to play out with their feet and have a precise and fast distribution,” von Lienen noted. With how much the modern game has changed, and given how AFCAA remain at the forefront of it in the NPSL, this is crucial for the side as Eric Rudland also notes. Rudland said, “Lukas is a very technical goal keeper with a solid body of high-level experience back in Germany. He has good intuition and great distribution.” He added to that, saying, “His ability to play out for the back will fit our style of play and be a great asset to the team.”

VonLienen_3.jpg

While these German experiences were key in his development, the importance of the American game has not been lost on von Lienen at all. “The diversity between the European and American style of soccer helped me to become a more balanced goalkeeper in distribution and shot stopping,” von Lienen responded, when asked about what has helped to make him so solid in net. He also cites the seasonal experience as a whole being key for his betterment. The keeper said, “My first season with Western was a lot about competing for your starting spot. Going up against our Fifth Year Senior Eli [Elijah Hughes, fellow WMU keeper] was very tough and I could never rest, always trying to do extra work.” He added, “This and the high expectations from our coaches, which always pushed us to the limit, helped me to develop a strong mindset and character.”

With a strong mental mindset already in place it is clear that von Lienen understandings the level he will be at over the summer. He spoke about these nerves and the importance of keeping cool, as he noted, “Playing with [AFCAA], we will probably have some close games and it’s very important to keep a clear mind under high pressure.” The sport of football being as mental as it is, it will be crucial to have someone levelheaded in net, and von Lienen certainly makes sure that he is that person. In Ann Arbor, as Rudland notes, he will be surrounded by the right people to continue to spur him on, as he says, “Coach [Jeff] Shuk will do a great job of pushing Lukas to help him continue to refine his game.”

The summer will not just be about soccer for von Lienen. When assessing what made The Mighty Oak such a great fit, von Lienen had multiple things he would take into account. “It was definitely the great level of success the team has accomplished in the last years, but also the closeness to a great flying school, where I can get my Private Pilot license simultaneously in summer, to move forward on my bachelor of Aviation Flight Science.” The community and city of Ann Arbor in itself has been able to serve as a key draw for the keeper, and with brains being so important in not just the goalkeeper’s position, but the game itself, it is abundantly clear that von Lienen is one smart person.

The fans of AFCAA already have a reputation that von Lienen knows about. The keeper would state, “I heard a lot about the great fans of Ann Arbor, and I am very excited to meet you all and celebrate a lot of wins together.” When it comes to the experience as a whole, von Lienen says, “The ambition is to win the championship at the end of the season, but also have a lot of fun and enjoy the city of Ann Arbor.” Between the sport, the city, and obtaining a pilot’s license, it is clear that the addition of von Lienen will be welcome for both player and club.


About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

Amanda Minissale Joins Inaugural Women's Squad

amandasvsu.jpg

AFC Ann Arbor is thrilled to announce the signing of Amanda Minissale, the newest member of the AFCAA inaugural women's team. Minissale is a Novi, Michigan native who has finished her collegiate career as a senior at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU).

Coming off her final season with SVSU, Minissale, the defender appeared in 20 games for the Cardinals, starting in 17 of them. She tallied 4 goals and 4 assists and totaled 12 shots with 8 of those shots on goal. After just the first game of the 2018 season, Minissale was named the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) defensive player of the week stating “...Amanda Minissale helped lead the Cardinals to a 2-0 road record over regional foes Ohio Dominican and Alderson Broaddus. She helped keep a clean sheet for the Cards in the 8-0 over ABU, also contributing a goal and assist in the victory.”

The 2018 season for Minissale and the Cardinals ended with a postseason run playing in the GLIAC Tournament. Minissale said, “my favorite moment in my soccer career was making the tournament with my collegiate team and winning a pk shootout to advance in the GLIAC Tournament.” The team went on to advance to the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Minissale is no stranger to club play outside the collegiate level. In 2018 she played in the Women’s Premier Soccer League for the AAFC Lumberjills of Michigan. This summer could have her competing against her former team as both The Mighty Oak and the Lumberjills are entered into the 2019 Inaugural Women’s Milk Cup. If both teams advance from the first round, they would play against each other in the second round.

When deciding to play for AFCAA Minissale was “strongly encouraged by former coaches to give it a try.” She said she’s “most excited to get back on the field after ending my collegiate career as a senior and for the chance to play with old friends again. Many players I haven’t played with in awhile were playing so I was excited to get back on the field with them.” Minissale will bring a tactical style of play with a ton of communication to her new team. “I communicate a ton which helps myself and my teammates be more proactive than reactive. I have a great service from many different areas of the field and I enjoy getting assists because of it.”


About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

Bryce Nicholson the Latest Addition to The Mighty Oak

bryce.jpg

AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to announce new signing Bryce Nicholson to The Mighty Oak for the 2019 season. Nicholson has finished his sophomore season with the Lawrence Tech Blue Devils and has spent both seasons with the side as a starter in defense. He helped lead LTU to their first ever appearance in the NAIA National Tournament, and all throughout their run winning the 2018 WHAC Tournament to secure a spot in the national tournament. His performance over the season earned him a spot on the NAIA All-Mideast Regional Team as voted on by United Soccer Coaches at the end of the season.

Coach Eric Rudland delivered high praise for the new member of the AFCAA Family as he called him “one of the top defenders in the WHAC” over the 2018 season. Nicholson had a knack for finding the net, scoring three goals and assisting three more over 21 appearances, eighteen of those being starts. The success he has found over 2018 is, as Nicholson notes, going to help him over the summer, as he says, “This year was our first year we won the WHAC title and our team learned what it’s going to take to compete at the higher level. I know what it’s going to take to compete for a starting spot and compete in the NPSL.”

As a total package of a player, much of the 6’3” defender’s ability comes not just from physical ability, but smarts on the pitch. “I think what has made me such a solid player is how I read the game,” he tells AFC. “I’ve learned over the years from my past coaches on how to read the game and play simple as possible. My main strengths are communication and my vision.” Rudland agrees with this assessment, as he says, “He has other intangibles like his leadership and work rate which will fit nicely into our team culture as well.” Given the leadership The Mighty Oak have had in the past from its center backs from the likes of Jack Cawley, among a plethora of others, it is clear that the Jenison native is a perfect fit in the squad.

For the newest member of the club, AFC is not a foreign side to him. “I went to a few games last year and I really enjoyed the atmosphere that was created by the players and the fans,” he said. As for his knowledge of the coaching staff, he put trust in his coaching staff on the collegiate level, “I did not know of Eric beforehand, but my coach spoke very highly of him so I knew I’d be in good hands.” With the interest by Rudland in Nicholson as a player, combined with the trust of the player in those who have already helped him develop, it certainly seems to be yet another stellar match between club and player. The cultural fit continues to remain a key point in identifying potential players.

Given that this will be his first season with the club, and considering his status as a high-level collegiate player, Nicholson is looking at development on a personal level for this season. The defender said, “I’m hoping to grow as a person and as a player while under a fantastic coaching staff and playing with high level players.” With returning players like Stephen Turnbull and Matthieu Braem joining him in the line of defense, plus multiple newcomers yet to be announced as well, Nicholson will be surrounded by plenty of top-level athletes to grow in both categories.

Nicholson is also looking forward to not just personal levels, but, as he put it, “I’m also very excited to experience a great atmosphere that has been put in place by the team and the fans.” He continued on, telling AFCAA fans, “I want the fans of AFCAA to know that I am going to give my everything on and off the pitch to bring them another winning season.” Between the positive attitude, and the on-the-field ability, once again an outstanding in-state player will be joining the club’s ranks.

Brady Walker Joins AFC Ann Arbor for First Season with Club

Walker, Brady2.JPG

AFC Ann Arbor are excited to announce the signing of Brady Walker, the newest member of the AFCAA Family, for the 2019 season. Walker is a Hartland, Michigan, native, who has just completed his freshman season with Saginaw Valley State. He will be the third confirmed member of the Cardinals’ 2018 side that made a run to the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen – joining Jake Rosen (now graduated) and Ryan Pierson (now with Detroit Mercy) on the squad. The addition of another Michigan native continues to highlight coach Eric Rudland’s dedication in finding both top-tier local and international talent for the club.

Walker is coming off a freshman campaign that saw him contribute valuable minutes to SVSU in his first collegiate season. After starting just once in the first nine games, despite playing in all of them, he quickly became a nailed-on starter with nine starts in the final eleven games, playing in all eleven of them. He scored three goals for the team, two of them as a sub, but offers plenty more than just goals as a player. “My freshman season at SVSU was a big learning curve playing against people up to six years older than me,” Walker said of the collegiate season. He noted, “It was a big adjustment to the much higher speed of play and I grew a lot as a player.”

As a player, Rudland says on his newest signing, “Brady is another local player we are really excited about. He is versatile to play in a few different positions and is coming off a solid freshman campaign at SVSU.” That versatility makes him valuable to any team, and it is incredibly diverse when it comes to positions played. When discussing his first season at the collegiate level, Walker discussed this as one of his greatest strengths, saying, “I played a number of positions this past season with SVSU ranging from outside back, to winger.” One thing AFCAA as a whole has been able to do is supplement multiple players with one player, and Walker’s ability will allow him to do just that.

When it comes to technical aspects of the sport, Walker has something else in mind when it comes to strong aspects of his game, saying, “Another strength I have is my creativity. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been very creative on the ball and it has helped me grow as a soccer player.” His creativity, plus the already mentioned versatility, allows him to do a job in a plethora of spots for The Mighty Oak this upcoming season, especially on the wing, where he is already familiar as a result of his collegiate season.

As a player from the state of Michigan, AFCAA as a club is nothing new to the newest member of The Mighty Oak. “I have been to multiple games before and the atmosphere was amazing, the fans, and the support for the team was crazy,” he said. “It was always a blast when I watched, and it really attracted me to the club.” The support of the fans, combined with a resounding stamp of approval from his teammates, helped sell him on the club. He expanded upon that as well, saying, “I know a few of the previous AFCAA players and they all told me about how brilliant the training atmosphere is and every player is willing to give their all to get better.” The positive atmosphere is a key draw for players into the AFCAA Family. With the continued addition of players like Walker, that will only continue in years to come.

“AFCAA is a great team with some amazing fans,” Walker said of the club’s supporters. It is no secret how integral the support and love the fans, like the Main Street Hooligans, show to plays is in continuing to attract top level players at a collegiate or semi-professional level. “I’m excited to represent AFCAA and further my soccer skills,” he added. “I’m hoping to contribute to another successful season and be part of the AFCAA tradition.” With already such an established tradition and culture of success, a player like Walker, who has been successful even already despite his young collegiate career, is essential to building the character of the 2019 season. He rounding his statements out by telling the fans of the club, “I’m extremely excited to represent AFCAA and have no doubt that we will be able to succeed again this season.” With the season just a couple months off in the distance, the anticipation for fans and players alike only continues to grow.


James Vaughan Returns for Third Season with The Mighty Oak

IMG_5984.JPG

AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to announce James Vaughan’s return to The Mighty Oak. The 2019 season will mark the Englishman’s third in blue and white as he spent 2016 and 2017 with the club. The Bexhill native has had a storied career with AFCAA and will look to add to it in this upcoming season. A starter in both his seasons with The Mighty Oak under Eric Rudland, he scored five goals and four assists through a midfield position in a 2017 campaign that saw him win Team MVP. He was also a four-year starter at Northwood, culminating in a 2017-18 senior campaign that saw him score eight goals and chip in six assists over seventeen games, good enough for a spot on the Division-II All-Midwest Region Team.

“Having left for a year to pursue other options I definitely realized that the Ann Arbor franchise and the community behind it is high above the rest,” said the returnee. “With a family feel to the club I cannot wait to be a part of it once again.” His return is cause for plenty of celebration for fans and staff alike. Rudland called Vaughan a “welcome addition” to an already solid squad. His statement that the ever-consistent midfielder has only continued to progress since being named Team MVP in 2017 is even more reason for optimism for fans of The Mighty Oak.

As a player, fans may be familiar with Vaughan as a whole, Rudland offers some glowing praise as his coach. He says that he expects, “big things from him as a central connector in our midfield line.” When it comes to traits that make him so suited for this job, Rudland offers these, “He has great vision, awareness and is really proficient in build-up play. He fits our system and style of play really well and we are keen to get him into the squad.” Make no mistake, he is a superb individual piece that fits well into the AFCAA team puzzle as a whole.

When asked what makes him so successful, though, Vaughan, ever the team player, attributes success at the NPSL level to the collective. “I think the team chemistry is one of the biggest things for me as to why I have had some success at the club,” he tells AFC. He continued, “You are around these boys for 3-4 months and by having the great relationships I do has enabled me to be confident in my abilities.” Also speaking on the necessity of trust, he says, “Trusting one another is a vital part of a team’s success and Coach Rudland's teams always have this in abundance.”

AFCAA as a whole are represented by many around and with the club as a ‘family.’ Vaughan truly represents the statement that once one is a member of the AFCAA Family, they are always a member. Despite not being a member of the squad last season, the midfielder said, “Even over the last year I have kept in contact with Eric and his coaching staff as well as players I have played with over my two-year stint at the club.” Vaughan showed his commitment to remaining loyal to the club both by words (with teammates and coaches) as well as actions. He stated, “I would come back to watch games whenever I could because they club makes you feel like you are always a part of the AFCAA Family.” Fans of the club will be happy that instead of simply watching the games, he is back to being a part of them for the side.

Another connection Vaughan has still had with the region, and specifically Rudland, is through the Midwest Pro Soccer Combine. Vaughan participated in both the 2017 and 2018 combines, and he joins Jake Rufe, his ex-teammate in 2016 and 2017 at AFC, and Henry Ramirez, as players set to join the club following the 2018 installment of the event. On the experience as a whole, Vaughan called it “a great experience,” to which he elaborated on, saying, “…putting yourself in a position to where you can compete with the top talent from around the country is a great way of understanding where your game is at and what you need to do in order to reach the next level.” With a glowing recommendation of it as a whole, it is clear that the combine has allowed him greater knowledge of his ability as a player in general.

For Vaughan, with so many special moments with the club, it is hard to pick just one moment that he loves the most. If he has to choose, Vaughan says, “…it would be the win over Dayton in the Regional Semi Final game back in 2017.” When asked why, he recalls, “This being a huge day for the club, I think all the boys wanted to give everything they had to the cause. I can remember the day like it was yesterday…a scorching day with a midafternoon kick off.” He added about the victory in extra time, “I think everyone at the club celebrate like we had won the world cup!” With Vaughan returning to the eleven, the thought, and hope, for fans is that he will help give more moments like that to remember.

Ryan Pierson Joins AFC Ann Arbor

image3.jpeg

AFC Ann Arbor are thrilled to confirm the first newcomer to the 2019 roster, forward Ryan Pierson. Pierson is a local player hailing from Plymouth, Michigan, and attended high school at Detroit Catholic Central where he was named 2017-18 Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. He will be the second Gatorade PotY to play for AFCAA, joining Alec Lasinski (2013-14 winner). From there, Pierson played at Saginaw Valley State University before transferring to the University of Detroit Mercy ahead of his sophomore season. Last season he made eighteen appearances with three starts for the Cardinals, tallying four assists in his first season on the collegiate level.

On joining the team, Pierson said, “I’m really excited about coming along and joining AFC and I’m really looking forward to the season and getting started with the team.” When discussing his excitement for the upcoming season, Pierson said, “I’m most looking forward to playing at this level of soccer. I haven’t yet gotten to play in the NPSL, it’s been something growing up in high school I knew I’d want to play [in]. It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, play for a top team. I’m really excited to do so.”

AFCAA also had multiple alluring aspects about it. One was their status as a NPSL Great Lakes power. As Pierson put it, “I see they’re always…a top team in the league. I want to play for the best team possible and get the best training in and win as many games as possible.” Another was location: “Ann Arbor is also close to home so that really drew me in too so my family and friends can watch me play. And then their fans and everything like that, it seems like [there’s] a really good fan base.” Finally, Pierson also noted his knowledge of Eric Rudland growing up in the region, and cited UDM Head Coach Nick Deren’s experience with Rudland by way of Michigan Rush as a way to trust in the AFC head man.

Given his strong freshman season with a top program at SVSU and his high school accolades – not even mentioning his unreal 32 goals and fifteen assists in just 25 games as a senior with the Shamrocks – it is no surprise that when talking about strengths, they generally center around attacking quality. Pierson described himself as “more of a 1v1 player” in general. When assessing his game further, he said, “I like to get on the flank and cut in, and also take it down the line with my left foot and get as many shots off as possible. I think going 1v1 in the final third and getting the shot off is my greatest quality, and using my speed to do that.” Head coach Eric Rudland agrees with this self-assessment, saying on his new attacker, “He is a pacey winger who can cause problems for opponents in the final 1/3 of the field. We expect Ryan to make an impact for the team and be a player who can grow into our club in years to come.”

Pierson, Ryan1.JPG

Between a tough schedule with one of the top teams in NCAA Division Two and a transfer to a Horizon League Division One school, Pierson is confident that when it comes to quality of competition in the NPSL, he will not be fazed by the impressiveness of the other seven teams in the conference. “At Saginaw Valley we won the league, won the conference, and got to play against a ton of top teams there as well like Michigan and Oakland in the preseason,” Pierson said. “I think from Saginaw to Detroit and now the spring season in Detroit I’m definitely playing against a lot of top talent [with] a lot of these people playing in leagues like the NPSL.” The talent has been there in teams he has already played, the hope is that Pierson is going to be able to swiftly transition over against the tough competition of the NPSL.

When it comes to goals, Pierson is focused not just on personal betterment, but he is also aspirational for the team as a collective. He says, “I want to win as many games as possible and I want to score as many goals and assists and help my team contribute as much as possible to win another championship.” With the culture of excellence that has been built, especially as two-time defending NPSL Great Lakes Conference Champions, the positive mindset and solid confidence within himself and his new teammates is surely a delight for fans of the club to see. Called a “good player with a bright future” by Rudland, Pierson is another positive signing for the future of the club.


About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

Rosen Returns for Fourth Season Following Italy Trial

AFC vs GRFC 3-20170529-56.jpg

When it comes to mainstays within the club, Jake Rosen is certainly a man that fits this billing. The outside back has played a role in every NPSL season with the club. AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to announce Rosen’s return to the club next season, but it comes with a caveat. His return will come not at the immediate start of the season, however, as Rosen has been given the exciting opportunity to play as a trialist overseas in hopes of signing a contract in Europe. Eric Rudland confirmed to AFCAA, “We are hopeful that he locks in a deal overseas, but either way it is likely that he will come back to AFC to see the second 1/2 of the season through with us.”

Rosen himself gave some extra details on what exactly his trial entails. “I will be training with a fifth-division team called Sora Calcio for three months with [an] agent that will be providing options and other trials,” Rosen explained. He hopes that he will “continue to do well over those three months of training there” while in Italy. Not merely an outstanding experience in terms of furthering his career, but the cultural aspect is sure to be a positive all-around for the AFCAA-experienced player.

The concept of a ‘trial’ may be slightly confusing to those unfamiliar to the sport. A trial is not too far off from what one in American sports would consider a tryout. On a trial, a player trains and plays with a certain team for a set amount of time in hopes of impressing them, or any other team that may see them play, in hopes of obtaining a professional contract. While this same concept exists in the American world of soccer, it is far more commonly talked about in the overseas game. The opportunity is one not extended to any player, and it is a testament to Rosen’s ability as a whole.

While a recent development for Rosen, the process of impressing scouts overseas is nothing new. He described the process of obtaining this opportunity saying, “A scout saw my highlight video I made after playing for Schoolcraft, so I had been talking to him for a few years.” Since playing for Schoolcraft, Rosen has been able to add to further highlight reels with impressive moments at Saginaw Valley State as well as with The Mighty Oak. Last season saw him deliver a picture-perfect ball for Moco Watson’s head to meet and find the back of the net in a Mother’s Day battle with Detroit City, a moment Rosen described as his favorite of last season. He also finished with a sweetly hit goal in the home rout against FC Indiana in the final NPSL regular season game of the year. With key moments in the first home league game and final one, it shows just what sort of work ethic and how important Rosen was all throughout the season.

When it comes to what he would like out of the experience, Rosen has established goals in his mind. He said, “All I want to do is learn as much as possible as a player. I’ve learned so much playing with different players over the years, as well as coaches, so I’m seeking more growth.” He continued, saying, “Every coach has different tactics to how they want the game played [to] certain standard[s]. I want to continue to make myself more versatile and overall become a better player.” It is clear when speaking to Rosen that he very clearly has an idea for how his overseas trip will go, and what exactly he aims to do while in Italy.

Rosen looks back upon his past three years with the club with great fondness. When it comes to a favorite memory over his entire career, Rosen has two, as he said, “My fondest memories of playing at AFC would be my first season there playing against DCFC away. That was the first time I had been in a true professional atmosphere for a game. Second would be the second season against Grand Rapids at home when I hit the cross bar from forty [yards] out, maybe, and Yuri [Farkas] headed it in just to get called offside.” While surely a fourth season would bring many of the same exciting moments, if Rosen is able to stick around in Europe on a professional contract, it would be an exciting moment for both player and club as a whole.

As imagined, all in the AFCAA Family are excited, perhaps none more so than Rudland himself. He credit Rosen, saying, “Jake is a local player who has been 100% committed during his 3 years with us. This is a kid who has battled through injury and other hardships during his career and he has always found a way to come out on top.” He also added that for The Mighty Oak as a whole, he hopes this could expand the network and open up a new pathway for AFCAA players in the future.

To aid in Rosen’s quest overseas, he has a GoFundMe in which members of the AFCAA Family can assist in any sort of living expenses while away in Italy over the course of his ten weeks across the Atlantic Ocean.

Click here to contribute to Jake Rosen’s trial fund.

Henry Ramirez Returns to AFCAA

DSC_9662 (1).jpg

The Mighty Oak are thrilled to announce Henry Ramirez as the seventh member of the 2019 AFC Ann Arbor squad. Ramirez spent the first portion of last season with AFCAA, but an injury cut his time in Ann Arbor short. Still, in his time with the club Ramirez became an instant fan favorite in the midfield with his hard work and relentless pressure of the opposition in the heart of the pitch. Head coach Eric Rudland gave the midfield man some high praise in saying, “he was one of the players we were most excited about bringing in for the 2018 season”. After a stellar stint with The Mighty Oak, a strong finish to his collegiate career, the best is yet to come for the young midfielder.

From Costa Mesa, California, Ramirez is coming off his senior season with UMKC that featured him taking the second-most shots for the Kangaroos in fifteen games played. He spent two years at Arizona Western College, a junior college in Yuma, and received First Team All-Conference and NSCAA All-Regional honors in both seasons. His fine play allowed him to take the leap up to the Division One level and join up in Kansas City with the Kangaroos, where he has spent his final two years of eligibility.

Along with his collegiate career at UMKC, what some may not know about Ramirez is that he also played the 2017 NPSL season with FC Indiana, which helped him garner exposure to the AFC Ann Arbor staff. Rudland, in fact, called him “one of the top center mids in our conference” during his 2017 campaign. His performances against The Mighty Oak impressed decision makers within the club enough to enquire about his services once 2018 rolled around, and those who support the club are happy that fate played into their hands with the midfielder.

Looking ahead at this season after the one which was cut short, Ramirez said about his new opportunity in a familiar set-up, “I’m ecstatic! My season unfortunately was cut short last year and I have been given a second chance, and I will not let it pass!” Returning back to The Mighty Oak was a no-brainer for the midfield man as he said, “When the idea of coming back to Ann Arbor came into discussion, it made me think of the whole community and people who make the wonderful club AFC Ann Arbor run together so smoothly!”

More recently than the NPSL league season was the 2018 Midwest Pro Soccer Combine, which Ramirez was one of three 2018 squad members to take part in. Ramirez was grateful for the experience, and thankful to those who sponsored him for it, saying, “It was an amazing experience; the setup is top class and the talent out there was great! It gave me a-lot of insight of what the talent looks like at the next level. I got a few looks and invitation to closed trials from it, so overall great experience glad I was given the opportunity by Eric & Main St. Hooligans.” Ramirez has plenty of gratitude for the devoted supporters of The Mighty Oak, whom he referred to as “the best fans in the country” for their support on and off the pitch.

The play style of the attacking midfielder is highlighted not just be his shiftiness on the ball, but plenty of other qualities off it. As he described about his game, “I think I’m a hard worker on and off the ball. I attack with the same effort as I defend.” Indeed, plenty of times last season was Ramirez the leading man at the helm of a press up the pitch against his opponents. His playmaking ability also caused plenty of problems with opposing defenders, but as he also describes, “I’m strong on the ball with quick feet. I think that’s what made me dangerous [with] AFC Ann Arbor.” Indeed, he was tough to get off the ball, making him all the more difficult to stop in any fashion in an in-game setting.

Rudland noted similar things about the midfield as he said, “He has the engine to press and the technique to create, which is exactly the player profile we need to fit into our hybrid midfield.” Within AFCAA’s usual three-man midfield, it demands plenty from all three players within it. Ramirez has the unique skills to lead the press and do exactly what the side needs out of its highest-up-the-pitch midfielder.

Despite a season cut short, it was not one lacking in memorable moments for Ramirez. He spoke of his favorite memory with the club, “[It] would have to be my first official start with AFC Ann Arbor at home against conference rival Detroit City.” He discussed what made it special, saying, “the atmosphere of the crowd and support of our fans was incredible. I played the whole game and after the match, I remember thinking to myself [that] this is a special feeling and special club to be a part of.” Finishing his thought, Ramirez concluded, “I am truly lucky to be here.” The Mighty Oak’s faithful certainly feel the same way about Ramirez being in Ann Arbor as well.


About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

AFC Ann Arbor Add Suzuho Yamasaki to 2019 Roster

Suzuho.jpg

After being named Head Coach for the inaugural women’s team, Andy Pritchard went straight to work and began recruiting top level talent to join The Mighty Oak for 2019. Suzuho Yamasaki is not only the first international signing for the club on the women’s side, but she’s a player that excites the staff in terms of her potential impact this summer.

“It’s very exciting to coach a player of  Suzuho’s caliber. She’s a player that can not only control the tempo of a game but also finds opportunities to assist her teammates and score goals,” added Pritchard.

The Japanese international is coming off a massive freshman year with the Martin Methodist College in Tennessee. Yamasaki helped the Redhaws to an impressive 19-1-2 record, reaching the NAIA Round of 16. The former Japanese National Team U17 player stacked accolades to acknowledge her role in helping the Redhawks to an unbelievably successful season. She was named to the All-Freshman Team, First Team All-Conference, Third Team All-American (NAIA) and let her team to the conference championship. The midfielder scored 3 goals and tallied 12 assists while her team finished the season ranked top ten nationally.

Yamasaki’s resume is impressive and Pritchard expects the midfielder to compete at a high level and help shape a winning culture from day one. She can play as a holding or attacking mid which only further confirms her ability to control the middle of the pitch along with the tempo of the match.

Welcome to The Mighty Oak, Suzuho!

About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.


Ron Rudland Returns to AFC Ann Arbor Coaching Staff

Ann Arbor Grand Rapids-1497 (1).JPG

AFC Ann Arbor have confirmed the return of Ron Rudland to the coaching staff for the 2019 season. Ron, the father of AFCAA head coach Eric Rudland, has spent time as a member of Eric’s coaching staff at his previous stop in Lansing, and also coached the younger Rudland during high school at Parma Western. This is season number four that Ron will be spending with the club.

Ron is a legend of the sport all throughout the state of Michigan. After playing (American) football during high school at Flint Carman, he began a soccer career at Olivet College, where he says his love for the game stems from. After that, his coaching career began. He describes the process, saying, “I was given the opportunity to start a soccer program at Western HS in Jackson County back in 1985 and was the Varsity coach there until this past fall. I also coached club soccer and have seen several of my former players now become coaches themselves.” The sport has also given him the opportunity to both teach and learn, as he says, “Soccer has given me the opportunity to not only teach young men the game of soccer but also teach lots of life lessons. [It] has taken us around the world from Europe, South America and many places in the United States.”

For Eric, it is a special experience to be able to coach with his father. Eric says, “Obviously the football is what brings us together, which is true for all of the staff.” He continues on, though, saying, “But having my dad involved has been a special dynamic. He has keen insight that comes from years of experience in the game, teaching and managing players.” For Ron, too, it is a fantastic opportunity to have some quality family time. He says, “I enjoy coaching with Eric because it gives us time to spend together which is hard to do the rest of the year between my teaching and his club coaching schedules.” Amidst busy schedules, the connection AFC allows the two Rudlands gives both the chance to connect over a shared passion.

As with so many coaching families, talk of coaching and the sport is not limited to just the time on the pitch or at training. As Ron describes, “During the season we are on the phone all the time talking about personnel, scouting the teams and just basic soccer talk! Off-season we still talk soccer but more about player recruitment and club news.” Eric added about the familial dynamic, “Coaching is a common thread in all discussions in the Rudland household, and it's been that way since I can remember. My dad began coaching soccer when I was five or six, so it's really all I've known.” He also joked about the scenarios he and his father could frequently find themselves in saying, “The most recent dealings with players, talk of soccer tactics, an upcoming match and/or a new way to organize a training activity were (and still are) normal dinner conversation...probably much to my wife’s and mother's despise!”

With so much experience attributed to him, the presence on Ron on the sidelines gives another set to brilliant eyes to coach with during training and to make adjustments during games. The partnership between the senior and junior Rudlands has brought great success to Ann Arbor, and the hope is certainly that it will continue into the 2019 season.

When asking Eric what the greatest lesson he learned from his father, Eric said, “The greatest example is the passion my dad has to grow and learn. I always remember, still to this day, him reading books, watching coaching VHS tapes, talking to other coaches on the phone...always eager to find the next nugget of gold that would allow his players and team to be successful.” He continued, saying, “This desire to learn and grow really is what helps coaches stay sharp and provide the best environment for players to develop and win.”

With the coaching staff of The Mighty Oak set to return all four assistant coaches to the organization, this lack of turnover has offered a sense of stability for the upcoming season. Instead of what Eric described as an “acclimation period”, he says, “There is a commonality in how we work, our vision for the team and a familiarity with each of our roles & responsibilities.” The hope is that this understanding will allow the staff to grow and flourish as well as they have in previous seasons from the first moment of the season.

Bringing it back to the elder statesman of the Rudland family, he has plenty that he is excited for. He says, “I always look forward to having the chance to work with the fine group of young men that play on the team and spending time coaching with Eric and the rest of the coaching staff.” In terms of a favorite memory during his time in Ann Arbor, he says, “Every time I show up, I have fun being there! But the neatest memory is probably the first season playing away at Detroit City, which was the first game ever held at their home stadium in Hamtramck.” With plenty of positive results and atmospheres that, as Ron described, have been “exhilarating” in the past, the best is yet to come.


About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

Marlon Freitas Returns to AFC Ann Arbor

DSC_8539.jpg

AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to confirm Marlon Freitas as the sixth men’s signing ahead of the 2019 season. This will mark Freitas’ second consecutive season with The Mighty Oak, having spent last season with the club as well. A Brazilian who has just concluded his senior season with Madonna University, Freitas starred for the Madonna side that made a deep run in the NAIA National Tournament. Head coach Eric Rudland said of the newest returnee to AFCAA, “This past fall he was a catalyst for Madonna's run to the NAIA Final Four and he was a player that was reliable in our environment last year in Ann Arbor. We are hopeful that he can make a big impact for us this season.”

Freitas’ season with Madonna was one to write home about as he played outstandingly well on the collegiate level. He finished the season with six goals and nine assists in 21 games, good for second-most goals on the team (behind AFCAA alum Yuri Farkas) and a team-high in assists. This total included a golden goal in the Second Round of the NAIA Tournament to give Madonna a victory over Bellevue to continue their run through the tournament.

About the tournament run, Freitas said, “At Madonna we got the best outcome that anyone could have wished for. The boys worked so hard every day at practice to be able to get where we got. It was one of the best experiences going to Nationals.” Ever the team-spirited individual, the Brazilian continued, “When you work hard every day it pays off. Those boys turned into my brothers through this experience and I’m so thankful for them. I also have to say that I’m thankful for such strong leadership, our team couldn’t have done it without Coach Z (Madonna head coach Mark Zathey) and Felipe Guimaraes.”

Looking ahead to the summer, though, Freitas is just as excited. “I’m feeling very grateful to return to such a solid team with a very strong support system,” he said. “I am looking forward to improve my game with the help of my team and coaches they push me to improve my game.” Building off not just a successful season collegiately, but also with a season with AFC under his belt that included a goal in the season-opening game at Milwaukee, he is looking to work hard and put himself in a strong position to help the side.

As a player, Rudland described Freitas as “[not] your prototypical Brazilian”. He elaborated, saying, “[His] technique and creativity is blended with a tenacious defensive spirit to go after the opponent. This has allowed him to adapt well to playing as a right back.” Freitas echoed similar thoughts about himself as he said, “When it comes to the defense, I feel that I am pretty good at locking down.” Not just a defender, Freitas has done plenty of damage on the attack, primarily as a left winger. On his offensive game, Freitas said, “On the offense, I would say that I’m very instinctive. I see the field and know where everyone is at and where they are going. So, when I get the ball, it’s not a lot of thinking, my body just takes over.”

An assessment of his game prompted Freitas to provide a bit of extra analysis, saying, “Strengths of mine are that I’m very quick, intense, have good stamina, never give up, and have a growing passion for the game.” The combination of each trait makes for a superb athlete on the pitch both physically and mentally for any side he may play on. This especially helps him in either favored position but especially, as Rudland deployed him last season, as a right back in the AFCAA model.

When it comes to goals, Freitas’ are based in firm positivity, and an assurance in himself to get better. “My hopes are that I improve a little bit every single day,” said the newest member to the 2019 roster. He continued, “I also hope to prove myself to my coaches, teammates, and fans that we can thrive again this season.” Certainly anyone that has seen Freitas play will know that with him signed on for another season with the club, the club is in that much better position to thrive.

About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.



Taylor Babcock Joins The Mighty Oak for 2019

DSC_6136.jpg

It’s not often you hear of a twenty-one year old coming out of retirement, but as AFC Ann Arbor Women’s newest signing Taylor Babcock jokes, “Considering I’m coming out of retirement, I’m just ecstatic to get to play and be apart of a team again. I love being around the game and am excited to be able to compete on the field.”

She may be comical off the pitch, but the defender from Northville (born in Spokane) means business when it comes time to compete. In high school, she was named Team MVP three times, earned all-state third team as a junior before being named all-state second team her senior season. After high school, she pushed on to play at the University of Portland before returning home to Michigan where Babcock began her coaching career. Now, a youth coach for the Michigan Tigers (alongside AFC Ann Arbor teammate Megan Trapp), she “started coaching and fell in love with the alternative perspective of the game it provided me with.”

For Babcock, the game has given her so much, that she wants to share and help shape the next generation of players, specifically young girls. “Growing up, my club team would scrimmage all the boys teams and every time we were on cloud nine. Soccer didn’t really seem to have double standards, it was simple—if I was all in, good things would happen. The game instilled the ideal of meritocracy in me from a very early age—work hard above all else. It’s been an outlook I’ve carried throughout my life and forever am grateful to the game for,” said Babcock.

DSC_6065.jpg

“I currently coach a group of 7 & 8 year old ladies and I think they might be the most excited that I’m playing this summer. But 10 years from now when they’re playing for AFC I want them to love the game. As a female, soccer has empowered me in ways that have affected my entire life. Teammates are forever and us, soccer girls, are a breed of our own! So I’m honored for an opportunity to show my girls that how we play on the field can be just as fierce as how we live our lives off it,” she added.

Quite honestly, you may never hear of another player as humble and appreciative as her. “The longer I’m around the game, the more I realize how it lasts forever. The community that soccer has given and continues to give me is world class. I’m just excited to expand it a little more.”

About AFC Ann Arbor

Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.

'Frenchy' Returns for Fourth Season with AFCAA

AFC-2016-05-30-44.jpg

AFC Ann Arbor are pleased to welcome back Matthieu Braem back for the 2019 NPSL season. The 2016 AFCAA Defensive Player of the Year, the Loyola (IL) graduate and French native is returning to Ann Arbor for what will be his fourth season with The Mighty Oak. Affectionally dubbed ‘Frenchy’ within the club and amongst its fans, Braem has been an ever-present for the side in its NPSL lifetime. He returns for 2019 wiser than before coming off his first ever professional contract with the MASL’s Harrisburg Heat. His longevity is key for head coach Eric Rudland who said, “This will be Frenchy's fourth season with us. That is unique to our level of football and pretty special for our club.”

Braem’s impact on the side far surpasses the on-field aspect of the game. As he himself says, “I think that the biggest value I personally add outside of [on] the field is the knowledge of the club and everything that comes around it.” Indeed, having been around for what will be coming upon year number four with the side, Braem has been around for all three previous times to the NPSL Midwest Regional playoffs and has played a role in all three runs. With his experience living within the club’s history itself, he is a valuable asset for players around him as a whole to learn and improve.

When talking about his play style, Braem understands that answers may vary. He said, “I feel like opinions and answers would change depending on who you talk to. But I like to describe myself as a smart and robust defender who always enjoys playing out of the back and start the attack from there.” Indeed, Braem has generally been a fixture within defense, generally deployed as a central defender for the boys in blue and white. He continued on, saying, “I also like playing with a high line, which fit Eric's tactics perfectly as he likes to press up the field and put the opponents under constant pressure.” Rudland agreed that Braem is a proper fit for the side as he said, “He has a clear understanding of our system and style of play and the way we go about our business day in and day out.” As previously mentioned, experience is key.

Featuring not only in AFCAA’s plans last season, but also in the CONIFA World Cup, ‘Frenchy’ is well-and-truly a world traveler of the sport. As he prepares to return from his stint in Pennsylvania, the newest returnee said, “It has been a crazy learning experience. But I am enjoying every single second of it. I get to wake up every morning doing what I love, so I can't complain.” He continued onward with a point that Rudland would concur with saying, “It's also nice to be able to stay fit and head to AFC fully fit and ready to get started.” Rudland later added, “That being said, we are hopeful that we will be able to rely on him early in our important May matches.” With Braem, there are certainly hopes that he will be a productive player, yet again, for the full NPSL campaign.

When thinking about the club as a whole, Ann Arbor’s favorite Frenchman is able to contribute plenty to the set-up of not just the team on the pitch, but as a leader off it. Braem said, “AFC as a whole, values its community and I think that it is really important for new players to understand that as soon as the season starts.” In addition to being able to help new players to the side adjust to the demands and rigors of an NPSL season, he, too, has a greater understanding now of what is needed of him than ever before. He detailed, “As a player, by now, I have a really close relationship and understanding with Eric and the coaching staff, which definitely helps setting up expectations during games but also practices.” Knowing what to expect gives Braem an extra edge over opposing teams who may be attempted to gain that same level of understanding amongst themselves.

Over his time with The Mighty Oak, two memories stand out for Braem. When pressed for a favorite, he replied, “[The] first thing that comes to my mind is the win over Lansing at home, when we were down 2-0. That was incredible.” He continued, saying, “The other one would probably be clinching our back-to-back conference title last year, at home in front of our fans.” The Mighty Oak’s faithful will be hoping for plenty more memorable moments like these as the new league season approaches.

Megan Trapp Signs as First AFCAA Women's Player

DSC_6349.jpg

Association Football Club Ann Arbor are proud to announce their first women’s player in club history, Megan Trapp.  The Plymouth native will be joining The Mighty Oak after a successful collegiate career at Eastern Michigan University, and brings her experience of previously playing in the United Women’s Soccer national league.

Since finishing her collegiate playing days, Trapp has now added coaching to her resume as she will be entering her 4th year as an assistant at Concordia University Ann Arbor this fall, in addition to her youth coaching duties with local Ann Arbor youth club, Michigan Tigers.

Her role at the Michigan Tigers helped her forge a relationship with club director, and AFC Ann Arbor women’s head coach, Andy Pritchard. Trapp said, “The relationship I have with Pritch is great! My signing for AFC Ann Arbor came about because of my interest in playing during the summer in the area. He knew I had played in this league before, and now since a team is closer to my work and home, he knew I was interested in joining the team.” She added, “I am looking forward to representing the Ann Arbor community and am hoping that youth soccer players will come and enjoy the games.”

“We’re very excited to have Megan on the team this year. With her already having played in the UWS, she will not only bring leadership but her experience to the group,” said Andy Pritchard.

Trapp herself knows the impact this women’s team can have on the next generation of female players and that might just be the thing that excites her the most. “I am hoping I can give all of these girls the confidence to keep playing and loving the game. Knowing that I never thought there would be this type of opportunity for myself, I am hoping to show them that they can grow up playing the game they love even after college. This game is for all ages and I want to create a positive image for all female soccer players.”

“Playing for AFC Ann Arbor means a lot to be able to positively represent the community. I am hoping to meet new players, fans, youth players, and more of the community. It is very exciting to be apart of a club that takes pride in their community!” added Trapp.

The community impact and lasting effect she’ll be able to make with her teammates this summer is a definite driver for Trapp, but she also hopes to find success on the pitch setting her sights high saying, “This summer I would love to be able to take this team to the league championship game. I am hoping we have a good group of girls who invest time into the team and be able to compete at the top of the conference.”

To hear more from Megan, be sure to listen to the newest episode of ‘Welcome to Tree Town’ set to drop this coming Thursday at 9AM.