In the fifth annual Memorial Day Classic, AFC Ann Arbor dominated a ten-man Michigan Stars for the entire second half to top Stars for the second time this season, 1-0. Jarred Dass scored the lone goal in the match in the 40th minute and was also responsible for the sending off of keeper Tatenda Mkuruva just minutes later. The win moved The Mighty Oak to eleven points through five matches and keeps them undefeated in the NPSL this season.
AFC Ann Arbor took control of the entire first half, to the tune of six shots on goal and seven corner kicks. The corner kicks, in particular, caused Mkuruva some difficulty in punching them away as James Vaughan’s delivery never cleanly found a man in the box, but clipped punches from the keeper occasionally found a man. The best of those chances came in the 23rd minute as Amadou Cisse ended up with the ball at his feet, but a Stars defender did well to block the shot.
AFCAA continued to build forward through the first half. Sebastian Chalbaud forced a diving save out of Mkuruva in the 30th minute. Dass slipped Henry Ramirez through on goal in the 35th minute, but his shot was just high. Finally, in the 40th minute, following a scrum in the box and plenty of deflections, Dass ended the move up with the ball at his feet and hit it well enough to sneak past the keeper. Just moments later, Dass would be the one running through on goal and was all but certain to beat the keeper and finish into an empty net, but Mkuruva, the Zimbabwean international, tackled him just outside the box to get himself sent off. AFC finished the half with another handful of chances, but could not find a second goal and went into the half with their one goal lead intact.
The second half saw more of the same dominating play from AFCAA, but simply could not find a second goal. Through the first fifteen minutes, a pair of shots (one in open play, one off a set piece) from Vaughan and a free kick from Chalbaud all came close, but the two dead balls were just wide and the longer hit from Vaughan ended in a save from new keeper Keith Arndt.
The next twenty minutes were more of the same dominating possession-based football from The Mighty Oak, but Stars would find a couple of opportunities to test Ian McGrane. McGrane was up for the task, however, and any concerning attacking play from MSFC would pass with no real tension. The Mighty Oak saw out the two minutes allocated for second half stoppage time and would walk out winners of a comfortable 1-0 match.
Jarred Dass earned man of the match honors for his goal and all-around hard work on the pitch, but the clean sheet and chances point to this being a stellar team performance overall. It serves as the second victory over Michigan Stars and the second time that AFC were able to either change the game or control the game after Stars went down to ten men.
AFCAA are back in action this Thursday at 6 PM in their Michigan Milk Cup quarterfinal match against BiH GR. They will be attempt to be the final semifinalist in the Michigan Milk Cup as they hope to join league-mates Grand Rapids FC, USL League Two’s Flint City Bucks, and the UPSL’s Oakland County FC.