Association Football Club Ann Arbor clinched a 2017 postseason berth after a Lansing United loss Friday evening mathematically confirmed Ann Arbor could not finish below second in the Great Lakes Conference.
Ann Arbor is only in its second year in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), a team comprised of 96 teams nationally, and have qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back seasons in arguably one of the toughest regions in the country.
The clubs success has been driven by Head Coach and Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, who is thrilled with his team’s efforts so far but said there is plenty of work left to be done.
He added, “Every season we want to be in the hunt to qualify for the playoffs, for me that is this sign of a competitive club. So to advance to the playoffs for our second year in a row is a tremendous step for the culture of our club. A lot of the credit goes to our owners, who all want to see the club succeed. They have devoted their time and finances which has positioned the club to have success on the field. Finally, you have to have the horses to run the race. In our case the the players we have are not only talented, they have molded well into a collective unit and are hungry to win.”
Last year’s team earned a 6-3-3 and record in the Great Lakes and secured their postseason fate on the last match of the regular season. This summer, the men have locked up one of two playoff spots with three matches remaining and have only dropped one contest all season long. Rudland is thrilled with the production and work rate of his team but The Mighty Oak remain focused on securing the number one spot in the conference.
Rudland said, “It's a big accomplishment. We all know that our conference of the NPSL is arguably the most competitive in the nation, so to qualify for the playoffs with 3 matches still remaining speaks volumes for our organization and our players. With that said, we still have 3 very important regular season matches on the table and want to finish our league play in good form and push to finish 1st in the conference.”
When asked if the large number of returning players from last years team have unfinished business, Rudland replied, “For sure. All of the returning players have a chip on their shoulder. The way we went out of the play offs last year was devastating. We all feel a sense of producing in the playoffs and proving that we are worthy of playing on a national stage.”
Click here for more information on the NPSL Playoffs.
AFC Ann Arbor travels to Hamtramck Tuesday evening to play Detroit City FC at 7:30PM in a match that was rescheduled due to unplayable field conditions at Keyworth Stadium caused my severe thunderstorms Friday evening, July 7th.