GRFC Gets First Three Points in NPSL
For the second weekend in a row, Grand Rapids FC played two games, challenging both its depth and its fitness. Both games were league matches, with GRFC claiming its first NPSL win as well as dropping its first NPSL loss. Friday night saw the Boys in Blue defeat Michigan Stars 1-0 at Houseman Field, while a Memorial Day matinee on the east side of the state ended in a 3-1 defeat to AFC Ann Arbor.
Against Michigan Stars, GRFC jumped out to an early lead just as it had the week before, and again,the catalyst was Peter Brown. Brown won possession for the hosts in the midfield, then dribbled down into the box, going one-on-one with the keeper. While the ensuing shot from Brown was off the post, a miss hit clearance by a Stars defender resulted in an own goal and a 1-0 Grand Rapids lead in the 4th minute of play.
In the 35th minute, midfielder Lito Esquivel saw on opportunity toward goal that just missed. On the defensive end, the only look for Michigan Stars in the opening half was a free kick that was blocked by the wall. GRFC took the one-goal lead into the break. Out of halftime, Grand Rapids saw a few opportunities about ten minutes into the second period of play, but shots from Greg Timmer and Brown were both saved by the Stars’ keeper. The Boys in Blue nearly doubled their lead in the 84th minute as Tyler Fischer put a low shot on goal that was deflected over by the opponents keeper to keep the game at 1-0.
Grand Rapids then held off the Stars for the remaining six minutes plus stoppage time to claim its first ever three points in NPSL play.
“I couldn’t be any happier about the win,” said head coach George Moni. “We executed our game plan and showed our tactical discipline, especially on the defensive end. It was a tougher second half as there were more numbers forward for Michigan Stars, but overall it was a great win.”
After just two days rest, Grand Rapids traveled to Ann Arbor to face the team at the top of the table in the Great Lakes West Conference.
After just 13 minutes, it was the home side finding the back of the net. Off a free kick, the ball was played into the box and bounced around before landing at the feet of AFC Ann Arbor’s Yuri Farkas, who hit the ball top shelf for a 1-0 lead to the hosts. Minutes later, GRFC had an opportunity on goal but the shot was sent just wide by winger Nick Abdoo.
AFC Ann Arbor doubled its lead on the stroke of halftime as Dario Suarez redirected a cross into the back of the net.
In the second half, the home side again found the back of the net in the 80th minute before midfielder Greg Timmer pulled one back for GRFC in the 88th. The final score then settled at 3-1 as Grand Rapids dropped its first game of the 2016 campaign.
“We created as many chances as they did, but they were just more concentrated in the final third,” said Moni. “It was a lack of concentration and bit of fatigue on our part. We didn’t play to our usual level.”
The Boys in Blue now look forward to a pair of away games in the upcoming weekend as they travel to Lansing for a 7:00 p.m. contest Friday night, then on to Kalamazoo for a 6:05 p.m. match on Sunday.