Despite the breeze in the air at Holloway Field in Ann Arbor tonight, it seemed as though no amount of wind, pressure or determination was going to get AFC Ann Arbor to score a goal in the first 60 plus minutes of the match. The matchup was named the Game of the Week by the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) and it did not disappoint.
“It’s a good feeling,” stated AFC Ann Arbor’s new head coach Eric Rudland. “I was really happy with the performance. The first half I thought we hit every crossbar you could imagine and created some really good changes.”
Rudland watched his players hard fought shots continually be blocked by the goal posts and crossbar themselves. Luck did not seem to be on their side especially when in the 46th minute the Mighty Oak defense miscommunicated and Dayton Dynamo’s Marc Hansson capitalized on it and took the ball around the keeper for the first goal of the night and the season.
“It was unfortunate,” continued Rudland, “the second half to start that way, but that’s futbol and I thought the guys responded really well. Two good goals and obviously a great three points for us to open the season.”
As the clock continued to countdown in the second half, AFC Ann Arbor started to show more possession and pressure in the second half and their perseverance paid off when a beautiful pass by Jack Smith connected with Lars Eckenrode in the box who slotted it past the keeper into the back of the net to tie the game one all.
Dayton Dynamo were not going to give up and stood strong as their opponent continued to try to force their way towards the box, including in the 72nd minute when a defender stymied AFC Ann Arbor at the 18 and began to drive the ball down the field.
Until 79th minute when Yuri Farkas, Audi Ann Arbor Man of the Match, shot at the Dynamo keeper and took his own rebound to creep it past for a goal. Dayton continued to fight for another attempt up to the last second but to no avail. The Mighty Oak would stand strong in the struggle tonight and secure the win.
“Even with the weather tonight and it being early in the season,” commented AFC Ann Arbor co-owner Bilal Saeed, “our sponsors and members showed great support and it’s only going to grow as we continue to grow on the field.”
With the first win of the season, Saeed added, “We are very lucky to have Coach Rudland leading us. It might not have been the prettiest win, but three points is three points and we will take it and be happy going into game two of the season.”
Coach Rudland’s AFC Ann Arbor team take their 1-0 start to the season and host Kalamazoo FC next Friday at Holloway Field at Pioneer High School.
Dayton Dynamo move on with a 0-1-0 start to the season, to host Lansing United on Friday, May 13th at 7pm at Welcome Stadium.