Sunday, April 24, 2016

Last minute goal from Cameron puts AFCAA over Northwood

AFC Ann Arbor kicked off its 2016 season with a storybook finish, as its shortened roster took on, and defeated, the Timberwolves of Northwood University by a score of 2-1 in a preseason friendly.

The match was played in benefit of Team Katie and proceeds went to the Team Katie fund and efforts to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

Saturday was a good opportunity for participating members of the the Mighty Oak to get to play in a live game together, and you could tell in the first half that the team was still working out some kinks.

"I think tonight was a good night for the club overall, with a lot of local guys and some new guys that have trained with us coming into the team," AFCAA coach Eric Rudland said. "For us, it's the first step in the process, for a competitive process, to get ready for the season.

"The first half, we turned the ball over way too much in our own end and we weren't looking to play forward."

A turnover is what led to the opening goal for the Timberwolves.

A cross from Northwood's Connor Cole after a defensive third turnover led to Bryan Lawson slotting the ball past AFCAA goalkeeper-in-trial Adrian Motta.

But that would be the last ball past Motta on the evening. In an impressive display, Motta made five very difficult saves including a diving effort off of an indirect free kick inside of the 18-yard box that kept the match at 1-0 before the half.

"He [Motta] is a very, very good goalkeeper and we've been working him in just to see what he looks like coming back from Portugal," Rudland said about the 'keeper.  "Today, he didn't make many mistakes and he definitely made some big plays for us.

"If he's interested in sticking around, we would love to continue to give him a look."

The second half saw a complete change of personality for AFC Ann Arbor. An attacking prowess and the confidence to move the ball through the center of the pitch led to many opportunities in the attacking third, and finally the chances paid off with an equalizer.

Substitute Yuri Farkas made his way onto the field directly after the half, taking the spot of prolific striker Knox Cameron, and with less than three minutes on the field, Farkas buried a stunning volley into the top left corner of the Timberwolves net to knot the game at one.

"Bringing Yuri on, he scored a fantastic goal on his first touch of the game, which I thought set the tone for us in the second half," Rudland said.

 Click for full match gallery
Click for full match gallery
With the match tied-up, and the temperature dropping, the play on the field started to get chippy and the multiple yellow cards given to both squads showed that the physicality of the match was less than that of a friendly.

But there always had to be a winner, and who better than the hometown hero and co-owner of the club, Knox Cameron, to give the Mighty Oak a boost when it was needed.

Coming back onto the pitch late in the second half, Cameron made his home in the six-yard box for a free kick in the 87th minute that bounced onto the wing. A cross back into the box found Cameron, with no defenders in sight, and he cooly put the ball into the back of the net for the game winner.

"The second half, we made some adjustments to start," Rudland said. "I thought we came out with a much more attacking mentality and we protected the ball much better in possession and that paid off."

AFC Ann Arbor will open its home-slate against Premier League of America side Oakland County FC on Friday, April 29 in another preseason friendly.

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