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The Eastern Echo Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Inaugural ‘Memorial Day Classic’ ends in defeat for AFC Ann Arbor

Amateur Football Club Ann Arbor was defeated 2-1 by Sporting Michigan Soccer Club in what was billed as the “Inaugural Memorial Day Classic” May 25 at Hollway Field in Ann Arbor, Mich., after taking an early lead.

AFC Ann Arbor (2-3-1) returned home to Hollway Field on Memorial Day to host its third home game and also try to pick up its third victory, but Sporting Michigan SC had other ideas, besting “the Boys in Blue” with two goals from forward Owen Itota in front of its home supporters.

The loss came two days after AFCAA traveled to face the Croatian Eagles in Wisconsin and ended the league match with a tough draw, leaving AFCAA at the top of the Great Lakes Premier League standings with four points.

But happenings weren’t as positive on Monday as the GLPL standings would suggest for AFCAA, which was defeated in front of 1,400 of its home fans in a way that would be described by head coach Dave Hebestreit as “not pretty.”

The offense and the scoring started early for Hebestreit’s AFCAA when, in the seventh minute, a shot by forward Ade Adiniyi was stopped by Sporting Michigan SC’s goalkeeper, but the rebound was put in the back of the net in the form of a free header by team newcomer Ahinga Selemani. AFCAA went up 1-0 less than 10 minutes into the match.

“It makes you feel good but you can never be happy with a loss,” Selemani said after the game. “Good work from Ade to get the ball in there, but it’s tough and hopefully we can bounce back for the next game.”

AFC Ann Arbor had the attacking mindset in the 25 minutes of the first half, but a clear chance on goal for Adiniyi was pulled back just before he put the ball on net because of a foul that had occurred earlier in the play.

Sporting Michigan employed an effective game plan of clogging the midfield against AFC Ann Arbor, and with teams seemingly splitting possession through the end of the first half, it was Sporting Michigan who was now putting the pressure on the defense of AFCAA.

An over the top ball was played perfectly to AFCAA forward Adiniyi, who was goal bound when the play was called off side, giving Sporting Michigan the ball. When the ball was put into play, Sporting Michigan took it into AFCAA’s defensive third and a low pass found the feet of forward Owen Itota who put the ball past Keep.

AFC Ann Arbor went into halftime tied with Sporting Michigan SC 1-1.

Minutes after the second half had started Breitmeyer sent a ball over the top and it was received by AFC Ann Arbor goal scorer Ahinga Selemani who put a shot on net, but the ball went wide.

As the second half progressed it seemed as if the forwards of AFC Ann Arbor were timid and disorganized while trying to cross into the attacking third, but they were able to muster a few chances to go ahead.

Midfielder Jay McIntosh took advantage of a bad defensive giveaway, striking the ball over the Sporting Michigan goalkeeper who was charging out of the goal box, but the ball hit the cross bar and went out of play.

Minutes later the trio of Knox Cameron, Kyle Breitmeyer and Ade Adiniyi had three chances on net thanks to clever passing, but each chance was pushed aside by the opposing goalkeeper or went wide of the net.

Sporting Michigan SC took its first lead of the game when a failed clearance by Adiniyi resulted in a tussle for the ball and shot by Itota that got past AFCAA goalkeeper Peter Tappenden.

With 15 minutes left in the Inaugural Memorial Day Classic, AFC Ann Arbor was trailing 2-1.

The final quarter of the match saw a lot of back and forth possession between the two Michigan-based teams, and AFCAA had chances on goal to try and salvage a draw from the match.

The game ended in defeat for AFC Ann Arbor, falling 2-1 to Sporting Michigan SC.

“The first half we had a game plan that we didn’t execute, and the second half we had a game plan of which we didn’t try for,” Hebestreit said. “We should have done more, and we should have done better.”

After the dust settled AFC Ann Arbor is still atop the GLPL standing, and that is what coach Hebestreit would like to focus on.

“We’re still undefeated in our league, and we’re still at the top point wise and that is the most important thing for us.”

Social Media: Follow Robert Sherman on Twitter: @r__sherman