It is shaping up to be a massive Sunday afternoon and evening out on the west side of the state for AFC Ann Arbor. The Mighty Oak will travel out to Grand Rapids where GRFC will host both the men’s and women’s teams in a rare doubleheader with both matches featuring the same two teams’ men’s and women’s sides. At 3 PM it will be the men taking the pitch for a match that will be crucial in settling the NPSL Great Lakes playoff race, and at 5:15 PM the women will play their final match of their inaugural season.
The AFCAA men are coming off a 3-2 loss in the Michigan Milk Cup semi-finals to Oakland County FC, thanks to an 88th minute winner from OCFC. However, with some key players getting rest in the match, The Mighty Oak will hope to continue their winning ways in the league. Since the home loss to GRFC, AFCAA have been 3-0-1 since then and have also scored eleven goals in their last three games. At the top of the goal-scorers list are Jordan Montoya and Yazeed Matthews, each with four a piece, and they both will be hoping to add to that tally.
To no surprise, the season is coming to an end in thrilling fashion as spots one and three in the Great Lakes are separated by just three points, and each of AFCAA, GRFC, and Detroit City FC will play each other once more in their final four games. If The Mighty Oak wish to regain their NPSL Great Lakes Conference crown, the key will be to snag maximum points against these top-of-the-conference foes.
For the women, this match serves as the return leg of the match that was The Mighty Oak’s first ever win for the women, as they toppled GRFC 5-2 at Concordia University. While, most recently, AFC fell 5-2 on the road to Indiana Union, the hope is to finish the season on the right foot. This match also serves as an opportunity for the women to claim their first win on the road in club history. All three of the club’s victories have come in the confines of Concordia University and, despite some close calls, the points away from home have been tougher to come by.
Grand Rapids FC’s men’s side will have played three games in the six days prior to their bout with The Mighty Oak. Things were rolling along quite well for GRFC, however Michigan Stars were able to take three points away from a home match against GRFC and drop Grand Rapids into second place in the conference table. In their other matches they secured a victory over Kalamazoo FC thanks to an early penalty, but would fall in the semi-finals of the Michigan Milk Cup to Flint City Bucks. Like AFCAA, all eyes are on the rest of the NPSL season.
GRFC’s women’s side remain right in the thick of the playoff push and it will be up to The Mighty Oak to play spoiler for them. After eight matches GRFC sit in the fourth and final Midwest playoff spot with eight points, putting them level with Michigan Legends on points and a point behind Detroit Sun. With GRFC squaring off with Sun after their match with AFC, the pressure is on for a historically strong team to continue to secure points and stay in the playoff places.