May 24, 2011
CINCINNATI, OH -- The Michigan Bucks finished a disappointing season opening road trip by conceding two late goals in defeat to the Cincinnati Kings 3-2 late Monday night. The second match of the season saw another long weather delay, which delayed kickoff two and half hours. Once the game started the Bucks came out the aggressor and pounded the Kings goal with aggressive play that resulted in seven first half corner kicks and several dangerous throw ins that should have put the visitors on top. Kings goal keeper Kaido Koppel made several great saves and relied on his goal post and cross bar for a couple more to keep the early score at 0-0.
The Bucks were caught napping on what looked like a harmless restart when a ball fell between two Bucks defenders and onto the foot of Branden Stelmak, who beat Bucks goal keeper Mitch Hildebrandt (Livonia, MI/ Oakland) on the short side for a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute. The Bucks continued to force the action with the attacking trio of Kenny Uzoigwe, Victor Costa (Oklahoma Baptist) and Simon Omekanda (Rochester Hills, MI). Omekanda was continuously electric down the right flank whipping in dangerous crosses and serving corner kicks into the Cincinnati penalty area. The Bucks looked to have an opportunity to tie the game when a Uzoigwe header was cleared off the line by a defender’s hand ball, but the infraction went unnoticed. Several minutes later Michigan scored its first goal of the season right before halftime when Omekanda placed a perfect ball onto the foot of Sean Grisham (Marietta, GA/ Southern Poly Tech) who tied the score at 1-1.
The second half wasn’t much different, with the Bucks coming out the aggressor. In the 57th minute, the Bucks took their first lead of the season when Uzoigwe found Costa open on the right side of the box. The Brazilian striker took one touch and calmly slotted home for a 2-1 lead. The next twenty minutes went back and forth with both teams getting quality chances. Hildebrandt made another terrific point blank save off the foot of Stelmak to keep the Bucks lead until the 80th minute. Defender Justin Sass (Butler) was ruled to have fouled a Kings player in the penalty area and Stelmak converted the PK to knot the score at 2-2 with ten minutes to play.
The Bucks squandered several opportunities to close the game out but continued to press for the game winner when they were caught on a counter attack in the last minute of play. The Kings went end to end and second-half-sub Marc Miller finished the play and the game with the winner for Cincinnati. Bucks head coach Gary Parsons was disappointed with only one point after the first two games. “I really feel like we could have and should have won both of those matches. I can give you all kinds of excuses as to why we couldn’t get it done, but the bottom line is that this young group of players has got to learn to play together for 90 plus minutes."
"There was a lot of good soccer to build on but you have to finish your chances and you have to protect the lead. We knew we were only one bad call or penalty kick away from disaster and needed to get that third goal. Unfortunately we could not connect the final pass. Give Cincinnati credit, those kids worked hard the last ten minutes and earned the game winner. We will hopefully get some more bodies healthy and ready to go for this weekend’s two games, which are very important ones,” concluded Parsons. Lost in the score line of the two game road trip was consistent outstanding play by veterans Omekanda, Stew Givens (Troy, MI), Alex Morisette (Shelby Twp, MI) and Hildebrandt.
The Bucks return home for a two game Memorial weekend home stand beginning on Saturday at the Canton Cup Soccer Tournament at Independence Park against the Indiana Invaders. Admission is free to the general public compliments of the organizing committee of the Canton Cup, who are sponsoring this event for the fourth consecutive year. Kick off is a scheduled for 12:00 noon highlighted by a special fly over of World War II planes in honor of all our area veterans who have and are currently serving our country. The focus quickly shifts to the Chicago Fire Premier on Monday, Memorial Day in the final game of US Open Cup qualifying at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac (7:30 PM kick off). Tickets for the Fire game are $10 Adults (16 and over) and $7 Youth (5 and under free) at the door but all tickets are on sale now for only $5 when buying in advance. Discounted tickets for Monday’s match can be purchased at the Bucks booth at the Canton Cup, Ultimate Soccer Arenas or on line by visiting the Bucks web site at www.buckssoccer.com and clicking on the TICKETS link.