June 23, 2011
PONTIAC-The Michigan Bucks scored twice in the first half of Wednesday night’s game against the Akron Summit Assault to record the team’s seventh victory of the season. With the 2-0 win, the team (7-1-1, 22 points) maintained its lead atop the Great Lakes Division in the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League (PDL). The victory not only keeps the team’s seven game winning streak intact, but moved the franchise within one victory of a PDL milestone very few would have ever thought possible.
The Bucks have won a PDL record 199 matches in their sixteen year existence (including regular season, playoff and US Open Cup matches). “I am not sure when Francisco Marcos created this league 25 years ago that he would have conceived a PDL team winning 200 games. There are MLS clubs that have been in existence since 1996 (the same year the Bucks started) that play twice as many games each year as the PDL teams, and they have yet to win 200 games. It really will be something we will cherish as an organization,” said Bucks Chairman/ CEO Dan Duggan.
Although this was the first time the Bucks would ever play against the expansion team from Akron, they expected to face a strong midfield presence.
“We kind of had an idea of what they were going to do, so we tried to adjust our midfield for it. We changed it throughout the game to try and counterbalance it,” defender Stew Givens said. “At times, we had more of the play in midfield and at times they had more of the play, so it was kind of a back and forth game there.”
Forward Kenny Uzoigwe, the PDL’s all-time goal scoring leader, added one more to his career total in the 10th minute. After a Bucks’ offensive possession was kicked out to midfield, Tommy Catalano sent the ball right back into Akron’s box, finding Uzoigwe alone for a header.
“I always trust Kenny,” Catalano said. “On that ball, I knew I could trust him. He’s a big guy; I knew he could head that ball in.”
The goal was Uzoigwe’s sixth this season, the 82nd of his career, and put Michigan on top 1-0.
Akron nearly pulled even in the 29th minute, when forward Ryan Minick got past the Bucks’ defensive line but missed wide with a shot from inside the eighteen. The Assault were limited offensively all game, and Michigan keeper Mitch Hildebrandt faced just six shots and was forced to make only three saves while recording his seventh win and PDL leading seventh shutout of the season. The four year Bucks veteran and Oakland University netminder has yet to concede a goal at home in five matches this summer.
Givens doubled his team’s lead in the 31st minute. On a free kick from about 30 yards out, midfielder Tony Walls’ headed the ball to an unmarked Givens inside the penalty area. The veteran made no mistake with his first-time side volley that was directed past Akron goalkeeper Brad Stuver, into the bottom left corner of the net for his second goal of the year.
“I saw the ball go over my head, and then I was just looking for a knockdown,” Givens said. “It just fell into a space, and I was there and had time on the ball and was able to take my time and just pick my corner and finish it.”
The Bucks will take their mid season break this weekend and return to play their next three games on the road, starting with a rematch against the Assault next Wednesday, June 29 in Akron, where they will try to reach the 200 win plateau.
“It’s definitely different playing a team twice in a row,” Givens said. “We’ll hopefully be able to figure them out quicker and then be able to get a few more goals and take it to them. We still had a few guys off with summer school that will be back next week so we can make the final push into the last three weeks of the season as a cohesive unit.”
The Bucks next home game will include the team’s third Michigan Bucks Hall of Fame Induction ceremony when the team returns home to Ultimate Soccer Arenas on July 9th to take on the Cincinnati Kings at 7:30 PM. Pre-sale tickets can be purchased for just $5 before the day of the game. Tickets at the door on Saturday night are $10 Adults (16 and over) and $7 Youth (5 and under free). Click here to purchase tickets online.