AFC Ann Arbor took care of business against Toledo Villa FC for the second time this season and secured themselves a spot in the 2019 NPSL Midwest Regionals with a 2-0 victory. This will mark yet another trip to the NPSL playoffs for The Mighty Oak as they are four-for-four in club history for getting to this stage. They will hope to eclipse the heights of the last two seasons and push forward through the national semi-finals, but up first will be a mid-week match against an opponent to be determined.
The Mighty Oak started on the front foot against a shorthanded Toledo side, who only traveled with eleven men. Under fifteen minutes into the match, Jordan Montoya would earn his side a penalty kick after some aggressive goalkeeping saw Montoya taken out in the box. That spot kick, taken by Yazeed Matthews, would be held out by a combination of the keeper Jake Kress getting a piece of it enough to hit the post and bounce clear. The 0-0 score would only hold for another couple minutes, though, as Matthews would make amends as Kress was lured out of his net, Matthews dribbled around him, and would slot home neatly with his left foot.
From there, The Mighty Oak could control the game and dominate in possession through the remainder of the first half. The second half started with much of the same, but in the 58th minute AFCAA would get their second goal thanks to Alex Alexis. Matthews played a nice low cross into the box and it was easy for Alexis to make a run through the center of the pitch and drill the ball into the roof of the net. There would be chances down the stretch for either side, and Alexis almost added a second with a fantastic run through the defense before hitting a shot just wide, but the three points was most valuable and that was what was obtained by the end of the match.
Fresh off being named Conference Coach of the Year, the win served as a statement of intent for Eric Rudland and The Mighty Oak heading into the playoffs. It was a stellar day at the office for the entire defense as well as Marlon de Freitas was the assister on the first goal with a fantastic through-ball. Iwan Webster was also named Audi Man of the Match for his outstanding defender, occasionally as the last man. The clean sheet and couple of goals serve as a nice performance for the end of the regular season and provide a bit for both attackers and defenders alike to hang their hat upon before entering the postseason.
The opponent and location of the Midwest Regional quarterfinal match will be determined by results occurred today, July 13. The match is set for July 16th, according to the NPSL website, and AFC will be playing in one of three locations: at home, on the road in Rochester, Minnesota, against Med City FC, or on the road in Rochester, New York, against Rochester Lancers. AFCAA’s website and social media will have all the latest updates on playoff match information.