Sunday, May 8, 2016

Second half comeback hands AFC Ann Arbor first NPSL win

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AFC Ann Arbor had reason to celebrate when the final whistle blew on Saturday evening's 2-1 victory over the Dayton Dynamo in the clubs inaugural NPSL league match-up, with both goals coming after the break, continuing the trend that the Mighty Oak may just be a second half team. 

Once again, it was the man in form, Yuri Farkas, who put AFCAA ahead late in the game, earning his club its first three points as an NPSL side as well as extending his goal scoring streak to three matches. 

"He [Farkas] is in good form, but he also has a ton of ability with strength and technique and he's a very well-rounded player," AFCAA coach Eric Rudland said. "For us, he can do a few different things, it's about continuing to put good guys around him, who can compliment his abilities."

The first half of the affair was a wild one, and it saw AFCAA hit the post an astounding six times without the ball going crossing the line, as well as a scrum that almost led to a fight in the Dynamo 18-yard box. 

The Mighty Oak held a majority of the possession and scoring chances through the first 45 minutes of the league meeting, but comparable to the clubs previous matches, players were unable to get the allusive first goal. 

"At the half we talked about being patient, and that's what we needed. Credit some great chances, but we needed to do a better job," Rudland said about the first half. "We needed to get our wide players in front of goal and we had services that we didn't capitalize on. 

"So we cleaned up a few things tactically and mentally, and in the second half we did well to win the game."
The game kicked into full gear through the second half, with both clubs splitting possession and having chances to their own credits. 

Despite prominent AFCAA pressure in the attacking third, it was the Dynamo who got on the board first, taking advantage of an apparent miscommunication between goalkeeper Fabian Veit and his backline. 

Dayton's Marc Hansson took advantage of the opportunity and gave the Ohio side the lead early in the second half. 

But finally, AFC Ann Arbor was able to match the tally off of a free kick taken by Jack Smith. 

The ball found the head of a completely unmarked Lars Eckenrode, whose goal put AFCAA back into the fray of the match in the 64th minute. 

A lot of back and forth play kept the match interesting until the 79th minute when Farkas took an ambitious shot on goal that was saved by Dayton goalkeeper Corey Whisenhunt, but the rebound fell to Farkas' feet, and he calmly put the ball into the back of the net. 

The goal sealed the win as time ran out for Dayton to equalize. 

It was a pair of firsts for the club and its manager. First, being AFC Ann Arbor's first ever NPSL win, but also Rudland's first NPSL with a club not named Lansing United. 

"Obviously whatever club I'm with, I want to win," Rudland said. "It's Ann Arbor now, and it's a good first step for this club. I'm more or less not happy for myself, but rather for the organization and for the players tonight.

"It's all on them." 

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