The Mighty Oak bowed out of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-1 loss in Lansing against USL League One side Lansing Ignite. AFC held their own against the professional side with logistic challenges including a pushed back start time and change of venues, but ultimately The Mighty Oak could not find that breakthrough that they pushed for.
The first half saw plenty of action with Lansing holding possession for stretches of time, but AFC not allowing many close-range chances. The seventh minute was the first key moment as Stephen Turnbull made a superb sliding block on the right wing to prevent a surefire goal within ten minutes. AFC’s most dangerous chance early came in the eighteenth minute as Jordan Montoya lined up a shot from outside the box, where he has been so dangerous, but the shot went just a touch high.
AFCAA got the first shot on target of the match, another long-range effort from Montoya that was deflected on its way through. That seemed to serve as a wake-up call for Lansing. Just a minute later Rafael Mentzingen found Ricky Lopez-Espin on a cut-back, but the shot went just a hair wide. That next minute, Lansing found their breakthrough again through Mentzingen as Elma Nfor finished a tough move past Spencer Ward who came close to making the save. AFC found a couple opportunities at the close of the half, including a Jake Rufe shot going wide, but the score would hold at 1-0 at the half.
The opening fifteen minutes of the second half saw a feeling out process for both teams, as well as the introduction of two more returning players, Yuri Farkas and Jack Hallahan, back into game action. While Lansing were able to find space in some dangerous areas, the AFCAA defense held up strong to the task and was able to clear anything dangerous out of their box.
After the feeling out, though, AFCAA struck back. In the 67th minute, after a mad scramble featuring a Jake Rufe shot saved, Alex Alexis latched on to the rebound and hit it with pinpoint accuracy past a cast of Lansing bodies into the net. It was cause for celebration for the Main Street Hooligans in attendance as it this goal was AFC’s first Open Cup goal in club history. Farkas nearly found a second just minutes later, but Ihn was once again up to task and was able save it.
Unfortunately for The Mighty Oak, Lansing had a counter themselves. In the 72nd minute Lewis Jones delivered a cross into the box for Nfor to head home from just a few yards out, giving him a brace on the night. It was a strong response for the home side, but AFC would stick around in the game, continuing to challenge Lansing. A final attacking sub saw Amadou Cisse come on for Turnbull and shortly after that saw Hallahan challenge the keeper with a well-hit ball in the 83rd minute as well. In the end, though, despite a couple last-ditch chances, Lansing held out to the 2-1 score line and would advance to the second round of the Open Cup.
It was a strong reaction from AFC, who fought valiantly to snag an equalizer in the second half. Lansing, however, was able to recuperate and score a second goal that would serve as the winner. AFC are in action for the first time this season at home on Mother’s Day, May 12th, at 3 PM against Kalamazoo FC.