AFC Ann Arbor left it late, but goals from trialist Pat Rose and Kyle Breitmeyer in the final minutes earned The Mighty Oak a hard fought victory over Force FC in the 4th annual Saline Showcase.
Sunday’s match was extremely physical with both sides looking to gain the upper hand in the middle of the park. The back-and-forth nature meant that each side saw just one shot on target in the first half.
In the second half it was the visitors who took the lead. In the 63rd minute, Force FC’s striker pounced on a loose back pass and tucked the ball under Joe Smith’s right arm in the AFC goal to grab a 1-0 advantage. Ann Arbor had been dominating the match in possession and had created more attacking chances over the opening hour, but surprisingly found themselves down a goal with less than 30 minutes remaining.
As the match wore on into the closing moments, it was trialist Pat Rose who found a lifeline for the hosts. In the 88th minute after a great curling cross from the right flank, Rose dove to meet the ball and his header flew past the Force FC keeper into the top right corner to level the match at 1-1.
The referee added on several minutes of stoppage time and as the match ticked past the 90-minute mark, The Mighty Oak capitalized. Audi of Ann Arbor Man of the Match Kyle Breitmeyer connected with a long diagonal ball on the left flank. He took it in his stride and ran at the defender before being cut down in the box by the Force defender. The referee had a clear view and pointed to the spot, giving AFC a late opportunity to win the match.
Breitmeyer stepped up and powered his penalty past the Force FC keeper into the bottom right corner to secure victory for AFC in the dying moments of the match. Force FC pushed late on to trying and find an equalizer but weren’t able to muster any other chances as AFC Ann Arbor ran out 2-1 winners.
Head Coach Eric Rudland was happy with the mentality of the men to come from behind and get a victory in the final preseason match of 2018.
“To go down a goal and then come back late, I thought for our group that speaks well just from a mentality standpoint.” He said. “[It was a] good goal from Pat Rose to get us going and then obviously Kyle drawing the penalty kick at the end was great for us as a group.”
AFC Ann Arbor will be looking to build on the momentum following this win as they kick off their NPSL campaign next Saturday, May 5th, at 7:00 pm EST (6:00 pm CST) when they head to Milwaukee to take on the Milwaukee Torrent. The next home match for The Mighty Oak will be on Wednesday May 9th, at Eastern Michigan University's Scicluna Field for the U.S. Open Cup First Round Matchup against the Ocean City Nor'easters.