May 31, 2011
PONTIAC, MI –– Mitch Hildebrandt (Livonia, Mi/ Oakland) closed out a Memorial Day weekend that would make any soccer player proud. The fourth year Michigan Bucks goal keeper followed up his shutout performance against Indiana on Saturday with another clean sheet against division rival Chicago Fire Premier at Ultimate Soccer Arenas on Monday night. Hildebrandt finished the Bucks US Open qualifying campaign (consisting of the first four regular season games) with three shutouts as the Bucks doused the Fire by registering a 2-0 win, highlighted by a first half penalty kick save from the ’keeper that would ignite the home team.
The Fire came into the match with an undefeated record of 3-0-0 and already qualified for the Open Cup tournament. The Bucks squandered a couple of early chances to secure their ticket to the Cup when they came away from their first two matches with only one point. However, the team rebounded this past weekend with two much needed victories as they defeated Indiana 4-0 at the Canton Cup on Saturday and by putting out the Fire on Monday night.
Monday’s game was an intense match between two of the Premier Development League’s (PDL) top franchises, highlighted by physical play and end to end attacking. Both goal keepers (David Meves for Chicago, Hildebrandt for Michigan) were called on early and often to keep the scoreline in check. Bucks head coach Gary Parsons highlighted how crucial Hildebrandt’s play was when appraising his team’s defensive preformance, “I don’t think defensively we were tight enough; we allowed them too much time to play. They’re a quality team, and when you give them some time to play they’re going to go through and create dangerous opportunities.”
The Fire nearly got on the board first after being awarded a penalty kick in the 25th minute... Midfielder Harrison Petts went left, but was denied by an outstretched Mitch Hildebrandt.
“As soon as they gave the penalty kick, it’s like we’re down 1-0 already, and then Mitch saves that and it just gives the whole team a lift. I think it woke the team up more than anything, and then, the results speak for itself,” midfielder Luke Holmes said.
The Bucks capitalized on the momentum boost provided by Hildebrandt’s save. Twelve minutes later, Tommy Catalano nearly scored on a shot that beat Fire goal keeper David Meves and bounced off the right post.
A few minutes later the Bucks would earn a free kick from 20 yards out and Holmes would step up to try and put the home team on top. The first year Bucks player would smack home the games first goal, beating his Akron college team mate Meves on the short side, giving the Bucks a 1-0 lead right before halftime.
The Bucks doubled that lead in the 69th minute when a Kenny Uzoigwe header was laid back to midfielder Tommy Catalano, who rocketed the ball into the net for his second goal of the season. The win pushed the Bucks up to second place in the PDL’s Great Lakes Division.
The Bucks will take on the River City Rovers of Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday, June 3rd. The game is a part of the “Bucks Stop Here” tour, and will be held at Walled Lake Central High School at 7:30 PM. Tickets for Friday’s match can be purchased for a discounted rate of only $5 by visiting the Bucks web site at www.buckssoccer.com and clicking on the TICKET link.