The “Boys in Blue” defeated Great Lakes Premier League foe AFC Ann Arbor 5-1 on a Wet Saturday Night at Houseman Field
The weather was the only disappointment on Saturday night at Grand Rapids FC’s inaugural home match at Houseman Field. The environment and result proved to be more than founder Matt Roberts could have imagined, and with an attack that was as steady and consistent as the evening’s rain, GRFC defeated AFC Ann Arbor 5-1.
“Very excited that not only did our fans get to see a great game out of our guys, but the support from our fans was tremendous,” said Roberts. “I couldn’t say enough about how they made the environment so great to play in for our guys. And, overall, to win 5-1, to have 2,409 people in the stands – when we envisioned this, we thought it was possible, but we’re very, very excited that it got there.”
The early enthusiasm of the crowd was matched by the Blues immediately after the starting whistle.
“It was exciting,” commented GRFC head coach George Moni. “It was impressive to see 2,400 people show up at the first game, and I think it gave a lot of energy to the boys.”
Despite the slick and cold conditions, GRFC was strong in possession to start the contest. After a pair of early chances glanced off the crossbar, forward Dominic Barone headed home a cross from Noble Sullivan to open up the scoring in the 17th minute.
“We were a little worried about the weather, but everyone showed up, there was a lot of support,” said Barone. “As soon as you hear the drums coming, and you know you hear that support, as a player it will get your adrenaline going.”
Barone, who was named Proper Soda Man of the Match, continued his strong performance by netting his second in the 37th minute, doubling GRFC’s lead on a header off a corner kick from Tyler Fischer.
After the Blues took the 2-0 lead into the break, Barone completed the hat trick five minutes into the second half, slipping past the AFC Ann Arbor defense and beating the keeper one-on-one to again extend GRFC’s advantage.
“There’s no doubt about Domenic’s abilities. He’s brilliant, he is technically above many, many players and he has a nose for the goal,” said Moni. “He thrives in these kind of moments, he likes the crowd and the lights. I couldn’t be any happier or any prouder of his performance.”
Sullivan added a second half goal in the 65th minute to go along with his opening-goal assist. Forward Aldony Mendez then rounded out the GRFC scoring in the 84th minute. AFC Ann Arbor scored its lone goal of the game in the 90th minute.
Across the board, players, coaches, and supporters alike were extremely proud of the team’s effort and performance, and not just because of the 5-1 final scoreline, but also the way the team represented the city of Grand Rapids.
Said Barone: “A lot of the guys, we grew up playing against each other here in GR, but to have your name be Grand Rapids, I think everyone wants to represent this city.”
Do you want to join the party? Click here to get your tickets for this Friday, June 5th as GRFC takes on Croatian Eagles at 7:30pm. http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1350755