Bucks Post Back to Back Shutouts For Second Straight Weekend
Move to 4-1 in Great Lakes Division
Charleston, WV (June 11, 2017)- The Michigan Bucks went on another long road trip and for the second consecutive weekend came home with two shutout wins over quality opponents. Thursday the Bucks traveled to Northern Kentucky University and defeated the Cincinnati Dutch Lions 2-0 before heading to Charleston, West Virginia on Saturday and blanking the Chaos 3-0. The Bucks record in the Premier Development League Great Lakes Division moves to 4-1-0 (12 points), good for second place behind K-W United (5-1-0, 15 points).
The Bucks registered back to back shutouts for the second consecutive weekend on the road against meaningful opponents and now focus their attention on a Wednesday night rematch with the Dayton Dutch Lions; the only team that has defeated the Bucks this season. Drew Shepherd (Ann Arbor, MI/ Western Michigan) has been solid in goal all season and recorded his seventh shutout in ten matches so far this season in all competitions (PDL, US Open Cup, National Amateur Championship). Shepherd made several key saves over the past two weekends and now the Bucks defense has played over 435 consecutive minutes without conceding a goal.
The Bucks faced off against the Cincinnati Dutch Lions for the first time this season and pressed for an early goal to put the home team on their heels. It didn’t take long as the team dominated the opening minutes and Daniel de Oliveira (Brazil) stole a pass in the fourth minute and went in on goal, only to have his effort saved by Dutch Lions keeper Zeus de la Paz for a Bucks corner. Captain Tom Owens (England) launched the ensuing corner kick into the box where the ball bounced to Jacob Bevan who made a quick flick to Andre Landell (England) who left his feet and volleyed home the game’s first goal. Landell’s goal was his fourth game winner in the Bucks eight total victories this season.
The Bucks continued pressure from all sides of the field and produced the second goal of the game in the 21st minute. New comber Jacob Bevan (Oxford, England/ Western Illinois) continued to show his ability to finish when he scored his second PDL goal of the year in two games when he finished a quality de Oliveira cross from close range. The goal was a classic Bucks style goal which began at their own 18 yard line and four passes later, the ball was in the back of the net and the game in check.
The Bucks cruised through the second half keeping most of the possession and making the Cincinnati team chase on a huge field that the Bucks took advantage of. Shepherd was only called on to make a couple of saves in this match, but he came up big twice to keep the shutout streak alive and the Bucks headed to Charleston, West Virginia with their third road shutout in six days.
Saturday, the Bucks played the Chaos for the final time this season, having defeated the West Virginia side 6-2 last month at the Canton Cup Memorial Day soccer tournament. The Bucks dominated this match as well, maintaining the majority of the game’s possession, while shooting from every angle possible in the opening half. The plan was to try and score early in the first half as the Bucks did in Canton when they jumped out to an early 3-0 first half lead, but the Chaos were having no part of that repeat performance.
It looked like the Bucks would score early when Jared Timmer (Grand Rapids, MI/ Butler) walked in past three defenders and ripped a laser headed for the top corner in just the second minute of action. Chaos goal keeper Kiernan Harrison made a great diving save to tip the ball out for the Bucks first of many corner kicks on the evening. Through the first 20 minutes, the Bucks had six glorious chances to score but could not find the back of the net. Meanwhile, Shepherd came up big on his only save during that time frame. In the 20th minute, Bevan took a pass from Timmer and entered the penalty box on the left side and ripped a low left footed shot that beat Harrison on the near post for a 1-0 Bucks lead. Bevan has now scored in all three PDL matches he has featured in this season. The Bucks continued to pound the Chaos goal for the balance of the first half but could not increase the lead.
West Virginia nearly scored the game tying goal at the stroke of halftime when a lazy Bucks pass at the back was intercepted by a Chaos forward and he went in alone on Shepherd. Drew was quickly off his line and the two ended in a heavy collision at the top of the box, where Shepherd made a great sliding save to keep the clean sheet in tact.
The Bucks started to feel the effects of their fourth road game in eight days in the second half and just couldn’t find the final pass to put the game away. Bucks coach Paul Thomas subbed in fresh legs and the Bucks dominated the balance of the match. Austin Ricci (Toronto, Canada/ Oakland University) came in to the game in the 65th minute and had an immediate impact on things. His run down the right flank and pin point cross found the head of Andre Landell at the back post for the Bucks second goal of the match in the 73rd minute.
Ricci closed out the scoring with the weekend’s best finish and one that would contest for PDL goal of the month in the 89th minute. Jordan Snell (Palm Bay, FL) played Ricci through the middle of Chaos defense and he used his speed to put himself in the clear. While running full speed at goal from 25 yards out, he somehow saw the keeper coming off his line and lobbed a shot that went into the top corner and left Harrison with no chance.
Coach Thomas was pleased with the six points but more impressed from the solid effort from the entire 17 man squad that made the trip. “It is always tough to go on the road and it is even harder playing back to back games like we did last weekend and then two in three days this weekend. You need a full bench to come away with two wins and we showed that again this weekend. Our young players that made this trip are maturing very quickly and are earning spots on this team due to their commitment to the plan. We focused on playing solid defense first and keeping the opponent off the scoreboard and then to attack. But with the talent on this team, it is hard to get them out of attack mode. Everyone of them is solid going forward and really put pressure on both opponents this weekend. We need to keep the intensity when we go into Dayton on Wednesday to get some revenge for the earlier loss this season” said the third year assistant coach.
Following the Wednesday road trip to Dayton, the Bucks return home on Father’s Day, next Sunday when they welcome their long time rivals from Chicago to Ultimate Soccer Arenas. To follow the Bucks game in Dayton for an Internet radio feed or possible live stream, please follow the Bucks on Twitter @MichiganBucks.