Our inaugural year as club was an exciting one and to commemorate some of our accomplishment we've put together a Top 10 Moments of 2015 list powered by Bank of Ann Arbor. Each day until New Year's Eve, we'll be announcing one of the Top 10 moments counting down from 10 to 1.
10. Last minute win over Muskegon at Hollway Field
On May 31st, the Mighty Oak played host to the independent Muskegon Risers. The highly anticipated match up did not disappoint as possession bounced back and fourth between the two clubs throughout the match. While the game was knotted at 1 entering the final minutes, it looked as if this friendly was set to end as a draw. At time trickled away in stoppage play, the energy and momentum was controlled by AFC Ann Arbor and the amazing home crowd supporting them. In the 94th minute, the Mighty Oak drew a penalty kick giving them an opportunity to walk way with the win. Jay McIntosh was denied on his initial PK attempt but calmly found the back of the net as he put his own rebound past the keeper. The Mighty Oak held off a few final attempts by the Risers to hang on to a thrilling 2-1 victory earning the No. 10 spot in the #AFCTop10 of 2015.
9. USASA Region II National Amateur Cup win over RWB Adria in Kansas
RWB Adria was quite dominant in the inaugural season of the Great Lakes Premier League finishing at the top of the table and going unbeaten throughout league play.
AFC Ann Arbor actually faced RWB Adria (3) times in total in 2015, the first of which was in Overland Park, Kansas for the USASA Region II National Amateur Cup on Saturday, June 13th (did not count towards league play).
The game started off as everyone expected, with high intensity and great soccer by both sides, each looking to take control of the match. It was RWB Adria that broke the scoring open and took at 1-0 lead just past the midpoint of the first half.
The Mighty Oak were on their heels early in the match but responded after the first goal and upped the intensity and took control of the match. The Mighty Oak struck first in the second half with an unbelievable volley from striker Vaughn Frederick nearly 30 yards out from the goal. Former head coach David Hebestreit called it “the teams best goal of the year.”
“He controlled a failed clear with a chest trap and struck it before it hit the ground, beautifully and gracefully, so relaxed looking, but such a perfect volley,” added Hebestriet.
The 1-1 tie held for most of the second half with physicality of play increasing along with pace of play. But the synergy between Breitmeyer, Belhart and McIntosh was starting to come together and the three were able to put together a play that allowed Belhart to find the back of the net with what would eventually become the game winning goal.
Although the Mighty Oak weren’t able to beat the best in the league during regular season play, the 2-1 win over Adria in Kansas will always be a fond memory for the club.
8. Title Sponsor Announcement and Jersey unveiling at Michigan Theatre
7. Youth Club Walkout and Halftime Matches
One of the funnest things all year was the walkouts and halftime matches for our Little Hooligans. We invited the Ann Arbor Rec & Ed, Canton Celtic, Saline Area Soccer Association, Michigan Tigers and more to participate in our actual match experience. It provided a one of kind opportunity for the youth players in our community and was just as special for the Mighty Oak players as it was the youth players.
6. Winning league opener at home 4-0 over Oakland United FC
In his debut for the club, Ade Adeniyi chipped in two goals to lead the Mighty Oak to a 4-0 victory over Oakland United FC for the first league match of the season.
5. Post Match Autographs
One of the fan favorites, especially for our Little Hooligans was the post match autographs presented by Audi of Ann Arbor. Getting to meet and interact with the players after the match was almost surreal to a lot of the kids in attendance. A special thanks to Audi of Ann Arbor for supporting the Mighty Oak and making post match autographs possible.
4. Skydiving the game ball in.
3. Joining the NPSL
Making the move to the NPSL was huge for the club in terms of providing an elite level of competition on a national platform while strengthening the clubs roots in the community.
Competing in the Great Lakes West conference of the Midwest Region, the Mighty Oak will be one of seven teams in the West, 6 of which are Michigan based teams including Detroit City FC and Grand Rapids FC.
For more information on the NPSL: http://www.nationalpremiersoccerleague.com/
2. Hiring Eric Rudland
The hiring of Coach Rudland will allow the Mighty Oak to compete at a high level immediately. The leadership and experience he brings to the table will make AFC Ann Arbor a real competitor in the NPSL Midwest Region this year.
1. The Inaugural Game at Hollway Field!
#Strength in the Oak