AFC Ann Arbor ran out 1-0 winners over Michigan Stars FC to remain undefeated at Hollway Field this season, earning the clubs first ever NPSL Great Lakes Conference Championship and the inaugural Michigan Milk Cup in the process.
It was a difficult first half, despite AFC dictating the tempo in the early going. Though the side had loads of possession and several chances, it was Stars who had the best opportunities to take the lead.
Twice in the first half Stars had tucked the ball in the back of the net, but both were correctly ruled offside. The two sides went into the break, deadlock at 0-0.
The second half started brightly for The Mighty Oak. Efforts from Jimmy Fiscus and Jesse Muskwe were on target early on, but neither were able to beat the Stars keeper.
As the match wore on, it became clear that AFC would need a hero. Cue Kwesi “Jep” Allen.
In the 78th minute, Jep received an excellent pass from Tendai after strong play down the wing from the left back. He took a touch inside, picked out the far post, and curled a beautiful ball into the top corner to give AFC the lead, 1-0.
With just over 10 minutes to play, The Mighty Oak brought on several defenders to help shut up shop, with Matt Braem and Chase Pagani coming on. As the Stars pressed for an equalizer, Ann Arbor sat deep and attacked on the counter.
In the end, Jep’s curler was enough to secure a 1-0 victory and put a fine finish on an impressive NPSL Regular Season for The Mighty Oak.
37 points from 14 matches, undefeated at home and first place in the NSPL Great Lakes Western Conference weren’t the only honors for Ann Arbor, as after the match, the side was presented with the inaugural Michigan Milk Cup.
The Michigan Milk Cup is aimed at crowning the top semi-professional side in Michigan.
Coach Rudland was happy with the result, and proud of how the men have continued to perform at home this season.
“I think the guys are obviously comfortable with the pitch, it’s our home field, so we have to have some pride in playing here and I think we did a great job of that this year.” He said.
“The fan support is massive, the community support, all of the sponsors who were involved here on game day and throughout the course of the season play an integral role is us having success here. We had a great run, and hopefully we can get a bid and host some playoff games here as well.”
The Mighty Oak will have a break until July 28th as they wait the results of the Midwest Region Quarterfinals (July 22nd). Visit the NPSL Playoff HQ for more information on the 2017 Playoffs Powered by Mitre.