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OCFC vs AFC Ann Arbor

AFC Ann Arbor 2 - 3 OCFC
26 Jun 2019 - 19:00Concordia University
Written by Robert Kerr, Staff Writer

Oakland County FC were victorious against AFC Ann Arbor in yesterday’s Michigan Milk Cup semifinal by a final score of 3-2. OCFC again produced an excellent team performance in the knockout competition. County overcame a second half, 2-1 deficit, to earn passage to the cup final. Club scoring leader, Mike Melaragni, was the hero of the night, as his 88th minute goal brought OCFC all the way back for the momentous win. 

It was OCFC that struck first. County midfielder, Demetri Pliakos’ shot from distance in the 25th minute, beat AFC Ann Arbor goalkeeper, Spencer Ward, down low to his left. The goal-scoring opportunity came from an excellent cross-field pass from Bobby Harris that floated over the defender’s head, and into the path of Pliakos. The moment of quality, broke up the pensive, and cagey, opening 20 minutes of the match.
Soon after the celebrations of the opening goal, an OCFC injury blow changed the landscape of the first half. County center back, Garret Weaver, sustained an injury to his nose, which forced him to seek medical attention off to the side of the playing surface. Whilst the medical staff assessed the severity of the defenders injury, the hosts were able to take advantage of their temporary numerical superiority, to net the equalizer, 1-1. 

The period between the AFC Ann Arbor 37th minute equalizer and halftime, was extremely difficult. AFC Ann Arbor poured on the pressure, and the County defense mustered every ounce of energy they had, to maintain the scoreline. Outside backs Connor Brazil and DJ Hooks, were tested up and down the field, as AFC Ann Arbor wingers amped up the pressure. County goalkeeper Max Jewett, and center back Nick Metcalfe, somehow combined to stop what looked like a sure goal for the hosts. Two AFCAA attackers were running free toward the OCFC net, when the two managed to deflect the dangerous attempt around the outside of the post. The save was just one of many, Jewett produced, to keep County in the game.
Assistant coach Craig DeJong brought attackers Mario Morana and Fred Prest into the game at halftime. The aggressive changes opened up the game, in the second half, which became an end-to-end affair. The hosts hit the OCFC post multiple times, and likewise, OCFC saw three goal-bound efforts cleared off the goal line, by AFCAA defenders.

Ann Arbor nabbed their only lead of the game, in the 59th minute, when AFCAA’s Will Eskay finished off a counter-attack, to make the score 2-1. The host’s lead would only last two minutes, though, as venerable County man, Julian Birge, headed home Louis Sala’s cross to level the game, 2-2. Birge displayed his leadership and versatility, once again, as he was asked to slide back into the OCFC backline, to cover for the injured Garret Weaver. The instant equalizer was integral to setting up the grandstand finish, which lay ahead.

With time and daylight running out on the cup semifinal, Oakland County FC found a way to win. In a game in which he was always an outlet for a forward ball and received plenty of fouls, County striker Mike Melaragni took his chance to win the game when it came. The towering striker was able to beat two defenders to a long bouncing ball, shrug one off, and net his seventh goal for OCFC to win the game. The 88th minute winner sees Oakland County FC move on to the Michigan Milk Cup Final, against the Flint City Bucks. The date and location of the Final, which will be a milestone moment for the club, will be announced shortly. 

Mike Melaragni

 “It was an awesome game, we were battling and giving it all so we could get to the final, and that’s what we did. I’m so proud to be a part of Oakland County and really proud to do this with my teammates.”

Assistant Coach Craig Dejong

 “It was exciting watch this game, two teams that play attractive possession soccer. We had patience and came through in the critical moments.”

 


Game and Highlights


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