On a rainy Mother’s Day, the home opener was filled with drama for The Mighty Oak. Kalamazoo FC took advantage of an early first half goal and used it to hang on for the remainder of the game, but AFCAA would not be denied of a late point. AFCAA’s Amadou Cisse finished at the death and made it 1-1 at the inaugural match at Concordia University.
Right in the middle of what seemed to be a feeling out process, it was Kalamazoo who struck. Dalton Michael was played through in a gap between defenders and finished neatly over Lukas von Lienen. It was a tough bit of luck as AFC dominated possession early, but simply could not keep the ball out of the net against KZFC. AFC would get a quick four corners in the first sixteen minutes, but Kalamazoo was up to the task on all four.
AFC had their clearest breakthrough when Matt Braem delivered one of his trademark long balls to Marlon Freitas on the flank, but could not finish the move with a goal. The halftime whistle would then come, and The Mighty Oak would still be without a goal to equalize.
The second half saw Jack Hallahan check in and make an immediate, and significant, impact, but despite The Mighty Oak getting the better of the early exchanges, no goal was to be found. Hallahan was found on the cutback by Alex Alexis, but his shot was left too high and it pinged off the football posts just above the net here at CUAA.
There continued to be a handful of openings. In the 63rd minute a scrum in front of the net with the keeper out of his box saw AFC with some chances, but they just couldn’t put their foot through the ball and into the net. In the 70th minute, James Vaughan got a free kick from thirty yards out, but that too went high and wide. Despite the lack of chances clearly in front of the net, AFCAA continued to dominate possession in Kalamazoo’s half of the pitch.
The last ten minutes brought plenty of drama as well. Jordan Montoya had his best chance of the game in the 84th minute with a low and well-hit shot, but Isaac Walker saved it well. The ensuing corner saw Walker attempt a punch and miss, leaving the KZFC net open, but a defender in purple and gray could head it to safety. In the 89th, Hallahan sent in a cross to Ben Thornton, but Thornton would nod it over the bar. The chances were started to mount, but the best was still to come.
Amadou Cisse came on at the 83rd minute, but in this sport, you just need a few minutes to make an impact. Yet another mad scramble in the box saw the ball take an unnatural spin on the turf and land at Cisse’s feet. Cisse hit it hard enough so Walker, while he got hands to it, could not save it, and it ended up in the back of the net. Marlon Freitas had a bicycle kick go just a touch high as the last kick of the game, but AFC would walk out of Concordia with a point in the most dramatic of situations.
AFC Ann Arbor travel to Columbus on Friday the 17th where they will take on FC Columbus in the third game of the NPSL season for The Mighty Oak, but the season opener for Columbus. That same day, the women will host Grand Rapids FC in the inaugural home opener for the club as well. Click here for ticket info for Friday.