GAME RECAP: FC Columbus

Andrew Streitel

KZFC earn third straight shutout in win

Kalamazoo FC earned its third straight shutout in a much needed three points on Friday against FC Columbus. KZFC were able to find the game winner late in the match and earn a 1-0 victory over FCC.

It was the defeat cancer game in Kalamazoo, as the team partnered up with the West Michigan Cancer Center to raise money to help prevent cancer. Every ticket sold was a dollar donated to the West Michigan Cancer Center. The match did not disappoint either as both teams played at a high level.

“It was a battle tonight just like every night in our conference and around the league,” said head coach Brian Clements. “Columbus is very well organized and bring lots of threats that we had to deal with tonight.”

Kalamazoo FC started the game strong putting lots of pressure on the FCC back line. Dalton Michael would have a great chance in the sixth minute but the goalie would make a diving save to keep the game scoreless. It was a defensive battle all night with neither offense gaining much momentum.

“The defense has been well organized and they trust each other a lot,” said Clements. “It’s a back four that is so solid and we do a really good job with team defending as well.”

The game entered halftime tied at 0-0 with KZFC having a slight advantage of possession and goal scoring chances. However, none of the chances for either team in the first half were too dangerous.

Kalamazoo FC would start to gain more control of the game in the second half with lots of possession and play in the FCC half of the field. However, the defense of Columbus would be stout throughout most of the match. FC Columbus had a handful of chances of their own in the second half but nothing to threatening.

“I thought we grew into the game in the second half and we started to make more chances and got the goal we have been dying for,” said Clements.

The only goal of the match came in the 81st minute courtesy of Donovan Michael. Carson Brinks would send a ball into the box that found an open Michael on the back post that smashed the ball away. KZFC would stay strong defensively and hold on to the 1-0 victory.

“This win gives us a little bit of confidence, we were going through a rough stretch for a little bit,” said Clements. “Three points is everything in this league and ties will kill you so this was a big three points.”

This win for KZFC breaks their three-game tying streak, and improves their shutout streak to three games. Elliot Miller was named man of the match for his contributions on defense that helped KZFC secure the shutout win.

Kalamazoo FC will be back in action Friday when they travel to National Premier Soccer League newcomer, Toledo Villa FC. KZFC will be home next Sunday for a friendly against the La Liga All-Stars starting at 5:30 p.m.

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: Oakland County FC

Andrew Streitel

KZFC eliminated from Michigan Milk Cup  

Kalamazoo FC suffered a bad loss in the quarterfinals of the Michigan Milk Cup this past Sunday. Oakland County FC was able to come into Kalamazoo and win a 2-1 game and move on to play Grand Rapids FC in the semi-finals of the Milk Cup.

Kalamazoo FC started the game very well, keeping possession of the ball and creating some solid chances in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, OCFC were the ones who were able to open up the scoring.

“We are really struggling in the attacking third and building any type of connections,” said head coach Brian Clements. “Give them credit they defended very well throughout the match.”

Oakland County FC scored their first goal of the evening in the 12th minute. A nice cross to the back post found a wide-open Fred Prest who volleyed the ball into the net. The next 10 minutes of the game would then be back and forth as OCFC gained more confidence with having the lead.

Kalamazoo FC would start to put more and more pressure on the OCFC defense as they created chance after chance. In the 30th minute KZFC would find the equalizer as Dalton Michael’s shot from outside the box would find the back of the net. After scoring his fourth goal of the season, Michael and the KZFC offense would have plenty of more chances to score another in the first half. However, the game would go into halftime all knotted up at 1-1.

“I think we created some good chances in the first half and we did not finish those chances which lost us the game,” said coach Clements.

The second half was much like the first half, with KZFC controlling the ball with lots of possession. However, KZFC was lacking the final pass to finish off the chances they were creating and frustration grew as they were not able to find the game winning goal.

Oakland County FC broke out on the counter attack in the 63rd minute and found the last goal of the game to give them the 2-1 lead. Prest was able to score his second goal of the match when his close-range shot went through the legs of KZFC goal keeper Michael White.

KZFC would raise their intensity the last 15 minutes of the contest but the lack of good chances on net would be their downfall. Despite having majority of the possession, KZFC would end up losing the match 2-1 and be eliminated from the Michigan Milk Cup.

“It was a tough loss, in the second half I thought they sat in very well and countered and got a goal,” said coach Clements. “We need to watch the film and correct what we have been doing wrong.”

Kalamazoo FC currently sits in second place in the Great Lakes Conference of the National Premier Soccer League, fighting to stay in playoff position. The team will be on the road next week as they travel to face Michigan Stars FC. The game will be played at the Ultimate Soccer Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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.