The Mighty Oak fell to Detroit City FC for the first time in just under two years as DCFC topped AFCAA for the NPSL Great Lakes Conference Championship by a score of 3-1. The visiting side found themselves beneficiaries of a hat trick from Shawn Lawson who made his mark on the match all throughout the ninety minutes. AFCAA scored a wondergoal in second half stoppage time at the foot of Will Eskay, but it would ultimately be too little, too late. Despite the result, if The Mighty Oak can secure a result over the weekend, they will partake in the NPSL Playoffs.
The scoring started relatively early for DCFC through Lawson. He was able to capitalize on a defensive miscommunication in the back line and get a tap-in for himself in the 16th minute. With the match still in its formulative moments, the goal served as a shift in City’s favor for momentum. The Mighty Oak would continue to fight, never giving up their spirit, but a second goal just a couple minutes before halftime from Lawson, again, on a nice ball from the left side made Eric Rudland’s halftime team talk a bit tougher.
Will Eskay nearly found one back just fourteen seconds into the half with a fizzing shot going just high. It set the pace for the early stages of the half, but it would ultimately settle into a more back-and-forth affair. Ian McGrane would not get troubled in net too seriously, and Eskay almost found his goal in the 64th minute, but Jalen Crisler did brilliantly to get his body in front of the net and make a goal-line clearance in what was shades of the match at Keyworth.
City would get their third in stoppage time as Abdoulaye Diop was able to hold off Breno Stapcinkas on a one-on-one counter and lay the ball off to Lawson for him to complete his hat trick. Fans of AFCAA would get something to cheer about though just a couple minutes later as Eskay would finally get his goal with a spectacular mid-air effort. It was a sublime finish into the top corner to pull a goal back while avoiding the clean sheet, and it was also a lovely pass into the box from Matt Braem. Ultimately, though, the whistle would blow a few minutes later and the scoreline would show a 3-1 victory to Detroit City.
Despite the loss and the fact that there will be a non-AFC champion in the Great Lakes for the first time since 2016, there is still everything to play for in Ann Arbor on Friday, June 12. With Toledo Villa FC coming into town, a win guarantees The Mighty Oak a spot in the playoffs. Any other result and AFCAA will need help from Michigan Stars against Grand Rapids FC in snatching the second playoff spot out of the Great Lakes. Tickets are on sale and will be available at the door, and AFCAA needs your support in pushing the boys into the postseason.