Nearly 7,000 fans gathered in Hamtramck, Michigan to watch AFC Ann Arbor defeat Dayton Dynamo and Detroit City FC brush by Duluth FC. Both games played out terribly different. The Mighty Oak of Ann Arbor squeaked by with a James Vaughn free kick in the 91st minute. Detroit rode the speedy winger Tyrone Mondi to the tune of a hat trick and an assist as Detroit sped by Duluth 5-2.
“With respect to (first round opponent) Dakota and Duluth, we expected to be here,” Detroit head coach Ben Pirmann commented. “This is the matchup we wanted.”
The early match featured Football Manager Season’s Best XI honoree Tate Robertson, and the Bowling Green State product did not disappoint, threading multiple through balls and key plays to his teammates.
Ann Arbor almost broke the game open in the 16th minute, but Ryan Hulings was there to deflect the shot, which became a theme for the day as Dayton’s keeper made many key plays to keep the sixth seeded Dynamo in the match. Ten minutes later Kaleb Jackson almost scored a goal for AFCAA, but Hulings got down to punch the ball out before Jackson’s second shot carried over the net.
In the 40th minute, Dayton picked up their second yellow of the match as first round hero Peyton Mowery took an awkward angle to tackle Ann Arbor’s Alec Lasinski.
AFC thought they had taken the lead in the 52nd minute after Ben Thornton headed home Vaughn’s free kick from the left wing, but he was ruled offside.
Ann Arbor’s Yuri Farkas was led through by Jake Rufe, and found himself with ample time in Dayton’s box, but took a second too long and the defense forced him to shoot low and wide.
Dayton’s first and only real shot came in the 79th as Robertson found a loose bouncing ball in the box and swiped it towards the net, but AFC’s TJ Tomasso was game to the ball, getting both hands on it.
In the 91st, recent sub Kwesi “Jep” Allen was fouled right on the edge of the middle the box. Vaughn stepped up and curled the ball around the Dynamo wall and into the right corner of the net, putting it where Hulings had no chance at the ball, to make it 1-0 late, and take the pressure off the number one seed.
Detroit’s match began a lot faster than the previous match as City got their goal in the 17th minute. On a counterattack, Shawn Lawson flicked the ball forward to a speeding Mondi, who took an impossible angle on the left to thread the ball under Duluth’s Tom Greensall to make it 1-0 to Le Rouge.
Things were level again in the 25th as Ivan Adika sped down the right wing and found Kyle Farrar, who finished fourth in the NPSL in goals scored during the regular season, wide open in the box. The Englishman flicked the back into the top left corner to tie the game up 1-1.
Before one could blink, Duluth made it 2-1 as Farrar sent a cross into the box from the right and rolled through. As it was returned, Ben Phillips found a loose ball, and struck it past an on charging Fernando Piña. The ball took an odd bounce before bouncing off post and in, in the 27th minute.
Mondi tied the game up for City four minutes later as Cyrus Saydee was played into the box on the right wing. His shot was saved by Greensall, but the ball rolled into the path of Mondi, who tapped it home to make it 2-2.
Four minutes later, Mondi gave City the lead as his corner found the head of captain Dave Edwardson who the ball near post to make it 3-2, before running to celebrate with the supporters.
Just on the edge of half time, Duluth was trying to put together a play from the back, but a miscommunication between defenders left a backpass to no one. Mondi pounced on it, took one touch, and beat Greensall to the left post to give him a first half hat trick, and a 4-2 lead.
Detroit almost made it five goals in the 49th as Mondi went down under some pressure in the box from Duluth, but Lawson’s penalty kick was steered wide right.
Detroit would finally add their fifth as Mondi was fouled again on the edge of the box. This time, wingback Omar Sinclair struck home a curling ball that beat the keeper top left in the 69th minute.
With this result, it ensures that an NPSL Midwest Great Lakes participant will represent the Midwest in the National Semifinals. It will be a rematch between Detroit City and Ann Arbor. On the season, Ann Arbor holds a 2-0-0 record over City with the most recent match being a 3-1 victory at Keyworth behind two James Vaughn goals. Overall, it would be the fifth matchup, with AFCAA holding a 2-1-1 advantage.
The final match will start at 7:30 on Saturday at Detroit City FC’s historic Keyworth Stadium.