Things are turning around for Kalamazoo FC. After going winless through the first three games of the season, Kalamazoo went on the road and picked up a win and a draw. A 0-1 loss to Detroit last week set them back slightly, but the Teal and Purple picked up another point with a draw at the Michigan Stars Friday.
That set up Sunday night’s match against Great Lakes Conference giants Lansing United, who were second in the Conference heading into the weekend. Lansing fielded their star striker, Rafa Metzingen, who led the entire National Premier Soccer League in goals per game with nine in just six games, but he was not to see his tenth.
Kalamazoo got on the board early when Ali Sodal intercepted a Lansing back pass and slotted a perfectly weighted pass through the Lansing defense to Jay McIntosh, who took a touch into open space in the Lansing box and beat the keeper low on the far side to put KZFC up 1-0 in the 12th minute.
Kalamazoo FC kept up the pressure and had a few more chances that just missed the net. Lansing wouldn’t see their first shot on goal until the 35th minute, when KZFC keeper Beau Prey deflected a bulleted shot out of danger.
Kalamazoo made it 2-0 with some sensational footwork from Ade Adeniyi. Tommy Clark, who would go on to win the Man of the Match, got his first of two assists when he touched the ball to Adeniyi, who was checking back out of defensive pressure. From there, it was all Adeniyi, who bobbed and weaved past two Lansing defenders before breaking into space in the box and rifling a shot to the upper corner. It was Adeniyi’s 4th Conference goal of the season and 6th in all competitions.
KZFC went into halftime up 2-0.
Lansing brought pressure in the second half, grabbing most of the chances early on, but their shots continued to go wide of the net and the few that were on target were snapped up by Prey.
Coach Shabazz moved team standout Adeniyi back to center back to shore up the defense in the face of the desperate Lansing onslaught. Ade helped shut down the Lansing attack and Kalamazoo began to see more chances.
In the 89th minute, it was Clark’s turn to show his fancy footwork in the box. Using drag-bags and heavy cuts, Clark maintained possession as he drew the Lansing defenders to the right side of the 18, leaving late substitute Esteban Russell open on the left. Clark slid the ball cleanly across the box to Russell, who took a touch and then buried a bullet from a wide angle to secure the three points.
Kalamazoo jump to fourth place in the Great Lakes Conference with the win and eight points, although sixth place Grand Rapids FC are just one point behind and have a game in hand. Lansing remain in second place in the Conference. Kalamazoo FC’s next match is Friday, June 23rd, on the road for the away leg of the Detroit City FC series.
Said Coach Lumumba Shabazz after the game, “We’re finally starting to play to our full capabilities. This is how I know we can play. The players are getting comfortable with each other and the confidence on the team is growing. We need to carry this momentum into our game against Detroit next week.”