GAME RECAP: AFC Ann Arbor

Andrew Streitel

KZFC and AFCAA battle in scoreless draw

Kalamazoo FC hosted back to back Great Lakes Conference champion, AFC Ann Arbor, on Friday in their second match of the season against the club. Similar to the game at Ann Arbor this match ended in a 0-0 draw with both clubs earning a point.

It was Special Olympics night in Kalamazoo, as KZFC honored participants of the Special Olympics from the Kalamazoo area. It was a great night with a good atmosphere for an important match as KZFC hoped to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot.

The first half started with both teams creating chances but the defense from both clubs would get the best of the attack and stop anything that came their way. Alex Ruddock and the KZFC defense played extremely well throughout the entire match. Ruddock earned man of the match honors as the team earned their second shutout of the season.

“The defense is starting to form a partnership; they understand each other and aren’t afraid to get on each other a little bit,” said head coach Brian Clements. “They have been playing very well the past few games.”

The game entered halftime scoreless with AFCAA having more of the possession. However, KZFC continued to work hard and had plenty of chances of their own in the first half but failed to convert on those chances. KZFC goalkeeper, Isaac Walker, made some key saves as well in the first half to keep the game knotted at 0-0.

“Whenever you play Ann Arbor you are going to have to defend a little more,” said Clements. “We got behind the ball and defended well and created some great chances that we weren’t able to capitalize on.”

Kalamazoo FC played much better in the second half creating lots of quality chances. The best chance of the game came in the 53rd minute when Dalton Michael got out on the breakaway. However, Ian McGrane would make a great kick save to keep Michael from scoring and keep the game scoreless.

 “Ann Arbor plays a lot of guys in the midfield and we were forcing the ball into their center midfielders,” said Clements. “In the second half we started playing balls into the channels and found success with that.”

Kalamazoo FC would continue to have the better chances in the second half but failed to find the back of the net. AFCAA started to push more players forward late in the match as both teams looked to find the late game winner. The final ten minutes of the game was a hectic one as both teams opened up looking to score. However, the defense from both clubs would stay strong and the game would end up in a 0-0 draw.

Kalamazoo FC will be on the road Sunday as they face FC Indiana. The team will be back home next Friday when they host FC Columbus with kickoff at 7 p.m.

“We just need to continue to get points in every match,” said Clements. “Everybody in the league is good and can beat anyone on any given day.”

GAME RECAP: Grand Rapids FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC fall short against GRFC

Kalamazoo FC suffers its first loss of the season as they fall to Grand Rapids FC 2-1 on Friday night. Nils Valdmanis was able to score his first goal of the season late in the match.

Friday night was yet another important match for KZFC in their race for a playoff spot. Grand Rapids FC came into the match ranked 13th in the latest National Premier Soccer League power rankings and second place in the conference.

The first half was not pretty, as both teams struggled to find a rhythm offensively. However, both defenses were playing well stopping every attack that came their way. The first half was mostly back and forth until the 40th minute when GRFC would score their first goal of the game.

“We struggled a little bit to get out of first gear and were very sloppy,” said head coach Brian Clements. “Grand Rapids broke up our play very well and a lot of credit goes to them.”

A turnover by the KZFC defense lead to a 3 on 2 that GRFC was able to capitalize on. James Decosemo was able to slot the ball into the bottom right corner. KZFC goalkeeper, Isaac Walker, made some nice saves to finish the half and KZFC went into halftime with a 1-0 deficit.

After a good first 10 minutes of the second half for KZFC, GRFC was able to find their second goal of the night. TJ Ifaturoti used his speed to break down the right side of the field and placed his shot in the left corner of the net. GRFC would able to hold most of the possession in the next 15 minutes till KZFC would make things interesting and score a goal of their own.

With his first touch of the game, Valdmanis, finished a pass that was slotted back to the middle of the box. After erasing the two-goal deficit to one, KZFC would raise their intensity trying to find the equalizer. KZFC was not able to find the tying goal and would lose the match 2-1.

“This loss was a massive eye opener for us tonight,” said coach Clements. “Our ability to move off the ball and keep the ball are things we still need to work on.”

KZFC will host Oakland County FC in the annual Michigan Milk Cup tournament this Sunday. This quarterfinal match is set to kickoff at 5:30 p.m. at Mayors Riverfront Park.

GAME RECAP: Detroit City FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC scores in stoppage time to beat DCFC

Kalamazoo FC pulls out a thrilling victory over Detroit City FC at Keyworth Stadium. Elliot Miller scored his first goal of the season in stoppage time to give KZFC a 3-2 win on the road.

After seeing heavy rain throughout the day, the field was water logged and both teams would have to adjust to the speed of the ball early in the first half. Detroit City FC saw more of the ball in the first half as they continued to pressure the defense of KZFC early. KZFC looked to attack on the counter with not much success in the first half.

Lasse Kjeldsen and the KZFC defense did well to keep the game scoreless for most of the first half. Goalkeeper Isaac Walker also added some big saves to keep KZFC in the game early on. After a few counter attacks by KZFC, Detroit would open up the scoring in the 40 minute.

Shawn Lawson was able to score the opening goal for Detroit after a ball was slotted across the goal box and he placed his shot into the right corner. KZFC would go into halftime trailing 1-0 with what would be an exciting second half to come.

Detroit would start the second half strong again with lots of pressure on the back line of KZFC. However, KZFC would hold them off and score a goal of their own in the 57 minute. After a penalty kick was awarded to KZFC, Giuseppe Vitale rose to the challenge and placed the ball in the left corner to tie the game at 1-1.

Detroit would respond well by regaining their lead just five minutes later on a miscue by the KZFC defense. Max Todd would secure the ball and score on an open net to give Detroit a 2-1 lead in the 63 minute.

The game would then go back and forth until KZFC would tie the game for the second time in the 73 minute. Dalton Michael would use his speed to get out on the breakaway and slot the ball home to score his league high third goal of the season.

Detroit would then go on the attack creating many chances to score but the back line of KZFC would play phenomenal in the final 15 minutes of the game to hold Detroit to two goals in the game. KZFC looked dangerous all game long on the counter attack and they had one more in them which would end up being the game winner.

Elliot Miller made a run down the right side of the field and got in behind the Detroit defense. He would then take a shot just outside the goal box and chip the goalkeeper to give KZFC a 3-2 lead in stoppage time.

KZFC held strong in the final two minutes of stoppage time and secured, a very hard to get, three points on the road at Keyworth Stadium. Lasse Kjeldsen was named man of the match for his stellar defense. KZFC is currently tied for first place with AFC Ann Arbor in the Great Lakes Conference of the National Premier League.

Kalamazoo FC will be back home on Friday when they host conference rival, Grand Rapids FC. Kickoff at Mayors Riverfront Park is set for 7 p.m.