Bucks Late Tally Takes Down K-W For Second Time This Season
Rematch for first place set for Wednesday night at Ultimate
Waterloo, ON (July 2, 2017)- The Michigan Bucks traveled to first place K-W United on Sunday and returned from Canada with a 1-0 win to inch closer to the current Great Lakes division leaders in the Premier Development League (PDL). The win moves the Bucks record to 7-1-2 (23 points) while K-W falls to 8-3-1 (25 points). The Bucks two games in hand and the last head to head match up on Wednesday night at Ultimate Soccer Arenas (7:30 PM kick off) will determine the final positioning of the two leaders at the top of the division. While neither team has yet to clinch one of the two coveted playoff spots, the picture will get a whole lot clearer by week’s end.
The Bucks have relied on defense all season long and that was once again the mantra in Canada on Sunday where the Bucks knew goals were going to be scarce. The two teams have combined to win the past three PDL titles and have been two of the best defensive clubs in the league over that span as well. Sunday’s match was no different as most of the game was played between the eighteen-yard boxes and there were long strings of possession by both sides that rarely ended in shots on target.
Drew Shepherd (Ann Arbor, MI/ Western Michigan) recorded another clean sheet giving him ten shutouts on the season, six in PDL regular season games. Shepherd was also in goal for the Bucks opening game shutout of K-W when the team won at home 2-0. Shepherd has only yielded four goals in eight PDL matches this season to lead the defending PDL champs as they edge closer to another Great Lakes division title.
Jared Timmer (Grand Rapids, MI/ Butler) had the best chance early when he banged his first shot off the post in the 19th minute. Austin Ricci (Toronto/ Oakland University) had a great opportunity when he went in on goal and shot over the cross bar with what looked like the go ahead goal. Ken Krolicki was dangerous for K-W and presented Drew Shepherd his biggest challenges, but the goalkeeper got the best of the two and kept K-W off the score sheet. Krolicki did get one free kick past Shepherd, but it banged off the cross bar in the 60th minute and that was as close as the home side would come.
As the game looked like it was headed to a scoreless draw, Timmer cruised down the flank and sent a cross in that James Haupt (Canton, OH/ University of Dayton) knocked in for the game winner in the 89th minute. Shepherd cut down a couple of late crosses and made a last second save to preserve the win to send the team home for a Wednesday night rematch.
The playoff picture and the Bucks destiny are all in the team’s hands and got a whole lot clearer with Sunday’s huge road win. After the Bucks- K-W United showdown on Wednesday night, Michigan will have three regular season matches remaining. With a win on Wednesday, the Bucks will only need to win one of the final three matches to retain the Great Lakes title. If the Bucks and K-W tie, the Bucks will need to win two of three and if the Bucks lose on Wednesday, they would need to win all three of their final matches to win the division and potential home field for the playoffs.
Bucks head coach Demir Muftari was elated to leave Canada with a result on Sunday and looks forward to Wednesday’s challenge. “It really is fun playing this team because they are a mirror of our squad so that adds to the challenge of just playing a quality team. To beat them you have to be up to the task both mentally and physically. We matched their intensity from the opening whistle and played ninety minutes of Bucks soccer. We aren't the scoring machine we were a year ago, but we may be better defensively then the team that led the PDL in goals against last season. Getting any result when you play at K-W is big. Getting a late goal and walking out with three points may just be the defining moment of the season so far,” said the reigning PDL Coach of the Year.
Tickets for Wednesday night’s match at Ultimate Soccer Arenas are $10 Adults and only $5 for kids to celebrate Youth Week with the Michigan Bucks. All kids get in for Wednesday’s match with K-W United and Saturday’s home match against Cincinnati for only $5. Five and under are always free to Bucks home games. To follow the Bucks run to the playoffs, follow the team on our web site at www.bucksoccer.com and follow us on Twitter @MichiganBucks, as well as on Facebook @MichiganBucksSoccer and Instagram @MichiganBucksPDL.