Approximately a year ago, Ann Arbor found themselves in a similar position: headed to the Midwest Region Final after a 1-0 win in the semifinal. The difference is rather than playing against the host, AFC Ann Arbor will be the one hosting this time around.
“Hopefully being at home in front of our fans will be the difference maker tomorrow night. We worked hard to host and our men are excited to be in our backyard competing for the regional championship,” said Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland.
The Mighty Oak host the Blue-Greens, today, Saturday, July 21st at Huron High School to determine the 2018 NPSL Midwest Region Champion. The quick turnaround isn’t the norm across the league, as most other regions did their semifinals midweek, but Saturday the conference playoff schedules align. The remaining eight teams (out of 98 teams nationwide) will all be competing in their respective regional final, looking to earn one of four spots in the 2018 NPSL National Semifinals.
The back to back matches can be very physically demanding on the men, but both teams are essentially in the same situation. Rest and recovery is key, but at the end of the day, Rudland knows exactly what it all comes down to.
“It’s definitely not easy, but at the end of the day this is when you have to trust the training process and hope that mentality of our men can supersede their physical state,” he said.
Duluth FC’s path to the final has been a magical run beginning with a thrilling penalty shootout against Grand Rapids FC in the quarterfinals. Yesterday, Duluth secured a 2-1 victory, and found their second goal in the second half of extra time, preventing another penalty shootout.
DFC will have to find more of that magic as they will have to get past the backline of The Mighty Oak, anchored by Stanley Okumu and Jack Cawley.
The two sides have never met before, but ‘In Rudland We Trust’ and Coach and his team have the boys prepared.
“We’ve watched a few of their games. They are good at what they do with a few special players. Locking into their system will be important and neutralizing their key lives will be critical as well. We need to play on our front foot and look to dictate play,” said Rudland.
Tickets are $10 for adults / $7 for youth. Purchase them online in advance and show your mobile ticket at the gate for easy entrance.