The Mighty Oak started the NPSL season on the road in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where they took on the Milwaukee Torrent.
It was a tough match throughout, but The Mighty Oak won 3-1 through goals from Dario Suarez, Kyle Breitmeyer, and Yuri Farkas. Despite the scoreline, things did not go entirely AFC Ann Arbor’s way in the match.
The match was extremely physical from the start. In the 4th minute, James Vaughn got hit in the face by an unintentional hand and got a bloody nose. This forced him to leave the field for an extended period of time as he waited to change his bloodied jersey. With The Mighty Oak down to ten men on the field, Milwaukee pressed hard, but were unable to capitalize on the man advantage.
In the 31st minute, the aggression was again on display as Kyle Breitmeyer was brought down in the box to win a penalty. Dario Suarez stepped up and buried the chance to give The Mighty Oak a 1-0 advantage. After some great work by TJ Tomasso in goal, AFC Ann Arbor went into half-time leading 1-0.
The aggressive play continued from both sides in the second half. For large stretches Milwaukee looked to be more in control of the match. They were pressing hard to get back into this game, but naturally this left spaces at the back. AFC took advantage of this as the game wore on.
In the 79th minute after a dangerous Milwaukee free kick, the ball found its way to Dario Suarez, who set off on the counter attack. Dario looked up and found Kyle Breitmeyer in space. He took a touch, cut the ball back inside to beat his defender and coolly slid the ball under the on-rushing keeper to double the advantage for The Mighty Oak.
Only seconds later, Tendai Jirira set off down the left. His cross found the run of Yuri Farkas, and he buried the chance from close range to make it 3-0 for AFC.
Three goals up with less than ten minutes to go, The Mighty Oak were looking comfortable for the first time all evening.
Milwaukee did get on the score sheet in stoppage time though, after a scramble in the box led the referee to point to the penalty spot. Milwaukee converted the PK to make it 3-1. After a long and hard-fought match, the referee blew the whistle and The Mighty Oak left Milwaukee with a crucial three away points.
Coach Rudland was of course happy with the result away from home in the first NPSL match of the season. He was particularly excited by the work his front line put into the match.
“You have to have guys who can be dangerous in the final third. That was the game changer for us. Being able to bring guys [like Yuri, Kyle and Dario] on really takes our attack to the next level.”
Audi of Ann Arbor Man of the Match Kyle Breitmeyer spoke to the team’s togetherness and the importance of that looking ahead to The Mighty Oak’s next match.
“This team is together,” added Rudland. “When you come to a place like this and get a big win, you’re going to have confidence in each other. You’re going to have a belief in each other and that’s huge going to into a match like that against the Bucks.”
The Mighty Oak will look to build on an impressive away win with a first-ever U.S. Open Cup match against the Michigan Bucks Wednesday, May 10th, at 7:00 pm at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Michigan.