Tag: GCPL

AFC Mobile Scores Three Goals In Three Minutes To Beat Pensacola FC

PENSACOLA–AFC Mobile scored four unanswered goals, including an improbable three within three minutes late in the game, to snatch three points from Pensacola FC in a 4-3 road win on Saturday night. 

“I’m so proud of the guys and their fight. To be down 3-0, after making some huge errors to give up those three goals, but all the credit to the guys,” coach Nate Nicholas said. “They fought hard [and] came back with some big goals by some big players.” 

The first half was a cagey affair with few real chances to challenge either keeper. Barrett Mills gave Pensacola the lead in the 43rd minute. Pensacola doubled its tally minutes later after Mobile’s Barou Ndaw came off his line in an attempt to clear the ball, but the ball fell straight to Pensacola’s Kameron Bethell who floated it into the empty net. Despite a relatively even first half, AFC Mobile went in to halftime trailing 2-0. 

Minutes after the start of the second half, Pensacola’s Gavin Gillies was able to beat the Mobile defense on a breakaway. His shot was fired toward Ndaw, who made contact but  was not able to hold on to the ball. Gillies then slotted home the rebound to give the home side a 3-0 lead. 

The Azaleas pulled their first goal back when Sherman Winchester boomed down the right-hand side of the pitch and sent the ball into Chisom Ogbonna. Ogbonna’s shot was deflected, but Erik Aispuro picked it up and sent it through the Pensacola keeper’s legs to bring the score to 3-1. 

Mobile looked listless for much of the second half with chances coming not at all, then all at once. 

The Azaleas’ comeback started in the 84th minute after Martin Fiemawhle headed in a ball chipped in by Ogbonna from the left wing to make the score 3-2.

Off the restart, Clairy Kengeye ran at the Pensacola defense and slotted the equalizer past the Pensacola keeper in the 85th.

“After I missed one at the goals I felt like I really needed to redeem myself and I felt like it was a good time to get one more since the team was hyped,” Kengeye said.  

The winner was scored by Ogbonna, Mobile’s leading goal-scorer just one minute after Kengeye’s goal. Ogbonna was played in by Aispuro on the left wing, cut into the box and fired a curling shot into the back of the net to give the Azaleas the 4-3 win, sending his goalkeeper, bench, coach and the busful of onlooking AFC Mobile fans into a frenzy.

“We had all the momentum completely shifted to our side,” Nicholas said. “It just kind of snowballed; it was one after another after another… After we scored the fourth, we could have scored a fifth right after,” Nicholas said. “It was like there was one team playing the last ten minutes, and it was us.”

A sizable contingent of Mobile fans made the trip east on I-10 and turned Ashton Brosnaham into their temporary home with celebrations lasting long after the lights went out. 

“I want to thank the fans,” said Nicholas. “They are so awesome. We were 3-0 down and they kept pushing us. What a great gift to have awesome fans like them. We appreciate everything they do.”

AFC Mobile’s next match is Wednesday, June 20th against Port City FC in Gulfport, Mississippi. This first leg of the 2018 Forgotten Coast Cup is a makeup date for the originally scheduled match that was postponed due to weather.  The Azaleas will return to The Lip this Saturday night to face GCPL out-of-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff for that game is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are just $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

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AFC Mobile Breaks GCPL Attendance Record in 2-0 Loss to Gulf Coast Rangers FC

AFC Mobile broke its own Gulf Coast Premier League attendance record Saturday night as a crowd of 1,465 watched the Azaleas suffer a narrow loss to Gulf Coast Rangers FC 2-0. The atmosphere for the first-ever matchup between local rivals featured a flyover by the US Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in a Search and Rescue MH-65 Dolphin helicopter on the club’s second ever Military Appreciation Night. The visitors from across the Bay were also welcomed by 10 of Mobile’s world-famous Azalea Trail Maids. 

AFC Mobile now owns the top eight spots in the GCPL record books — one for each home league match in the club’s history.

“To our fans, y’all were great. We want to apologize for not getting the victory tonight, but I thought you would like the performance the guys put in,” AFC Mobile coach Nate Nicholas said. “We loved every second of having you guys here, we want to keep these numbers going up and up and up. We have a couple more home games and we need your support.” 

The Azaleas had a bright start to the game. AFC Mobile’s leading goalscorer Chisom Obgonna ripped a shot from outside of the box that went wide left of the goal. Minutes later the ball was played back to Ogbonna in the box, but he was bogged down by the Ranger defense. The ball found its way to Erik Aispuro outside of the box, who tried to play it back to Ogbonna, but his pass floated back into the hands of Rangers keeper Xavier Audergon. 

Mobile nearly took the lead in the 17th minute after a David Valverde free kick found Aispuro who headed the ball onto a streaking Matt Merrill, but Merrill’s left-footed shot was pushed wide by Audergon. 

The first half was an even affair with good chances for both sides. In the 27th minute, Mobile keeper Elijah Gibson played the ball out of his box and was picked up by the Rangers’ Yan Livenu whose shot sailed over the crossbar. 

In the 33rd minute, Valverde was taken down by a crunching tackle after a nice piece of footwork. He was replaced by Greg Hosford, who started for AFC Mobile’s reserve team in their 3-0 win over the Rangers reserves in midweek. 

The Rangers’ best chances came toward the end of the first half. In the 43rd minute, former AFC Mobile player Moses Muhubao’s shot was saved by Gibson. Gibson came up with another big save one minute later off of the ensuing corner. But the tide turned in first-half stoppage time when defender Matthew Jakubik floated in a header over Gibson off of a Rangers free kick. The Azaleas went into halftime trailing Rangers 1-0. 

“I think that goal was a momentum killer. It was an even game,” Nicholas said. “I don’t know that one team deserved to be ahead of the other at the time. But the guy went in unmarked but we had a little confusion in the back post. But to be honest with you he wasn’t even shooting the ball; he was heading it across and Elijah just couldn’t get to it.”

Rangers would start the second half on the front foot. Rangers’ Andrew McInnis sent a shot just wide after tight pressure from Brantton “Sunshine” Greene. 

In the 60th minute, Rangers’ Alex Wichmann was shown a yellow card. Seconds later, Audergon came up big with another great save off of a header on an AFC Mobile free kick. 

Two more yellow cards were shown in the 74th and 76th minutes to Rangers’ Sergi Cebrian and Mobile’s Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr. 

The record crowd thought the Azaleas had equalized in the 85th minute after Abdal Almutairi pressured Audergon to win the ball. Audergon appeared to lose his footing after initially avoiding Almutairi’s approach, and Almutairi took advantage, tracking back to the loose ball and slotting it home into the open net while Audergon lay on the ground. Two minutes later, after Mobile had finished celebrating and had set up to resume play from the center circle, Audergon remained down and the official reversed his initial award of the goal, claiming Almutairi had fouled Audergon. Audergon would finish the game, including a total of 8 minutes of stoppage time, in goal for the Rangers. 

“I didn’t argue too much that it got called back,” Nicholas said.  “I just thought it was a little wishy-washy for [the official] to let everybody come back and celebrate and he’s already running back to midfield and he thinks about it…and their goalkeeper lays on the ground. I thought, for him, it was a pretty poor performance. If that’s a foul then you’re literally right there. He was within 15 yards of the play. If it’s a foul he should’ve called it a lot earlier, rather than let both teams get back in midfield and set up for it. That’s just my view. I thought it was poorly done.” 

The Rangers doubled their tally late in stoppage time after Gibson pushed up into the midfield on an AFC Mobile corner. Former AFC Mobile captain Nathan Gillespie got behind the forward-playing Mobile keeper on a counter-attack and slotted home a garbage-time goal to give the visitors a 2-0 win. The loss leaves AFC Mobile in fourth place, but the Azaleas remain third in points per game, having two games in hand on Pensacola FC and Gulf Coast Rangers. 

Next week, AFC Mobile will travel to Pensacola to take on GCPL Eastern Conference leaders Pensacola FC. Kickoff is at 7 pm at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium. 

The Azaleas will return to The Lip in two weeks to face GCPL out-of-conference opponent Alexandria FC. Kickoff is at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23rd at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

Getting to Know You: Rangers FC

AFC Mobile is off to a good start to the season, winning two out of three and averaging over three goals per game, but its next test may be its biggest yet. On the other side of Mobile Bay, a new GCPL team  will be entering The Lip looking for a win of its own. The Daphne-based club that plays its home games in Foley is Gulf Coast Rangers FC, and it’s been competitive in their opening GCPL season. Coming off a 1-1 draw with Baton Rouge United, the Rangers will enter Sweet Lunacy’s County Seat hoping to steal some road points and head back to the ‘burbs with a first-leg victory in hand.

CLUB: Gulf Coast Rangers FC
NICKNAME: Rangers

Rangers FC entered the GCPL in good form, losing narrowly to Gulfport’s Port City FC 2-1, running over Moss Point’s Real United FC 10-2, falling to Mississippi Blues 3-2, and tying Baton Rouge United 1-1. As a first-year club, Rangers have looked dangerous attacking and have one of the top goalkeepers in the GCPL with former Atlanta Silverback Xavier Audergon. Rangers have also gotten players from their youth academy involved, providing opportunities to several current and former Ranger youth players including up-and-coming Bayside Academy goalkeeper Ty Turner.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: There are plenty of familiar faces with the Rangers, but the versatile, attacking trio of Yan Linevu, David Hall, and Amos Ndikumana have proven difficult for most opponents. Linevu has a knack for getting himself into highly dangerous positions for the Rangers; Hall uses his size and immense speed to create matchup headaches for defenses; and Ndikumana is proficient at both scoring and setting up goals from the wing.

The Gulf Coast Rangers FC GCPL team can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @RangersFCMens.

Mobile faces Gulf Coast Rangers FC this Saturday, June 9th.  There will be some pre-game surprises at 6:30 p.m. and kickoff is  7:00 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are $5 and children 12 and under are free. Saturday’s game will also be Military Appreciation Night.  All veterans and active duty military personnel will be admitted free of charge. 

Ogbonna Nets Second Hat Trick In 4-1 Win Over Real United FC

Chisom Ogbonna scored three as AFC Mobile dominated Moss Point, Mississippi’s Real United FC in a 4-1 win on Saturday. A crowd of just over 900 witnessed Ogbonna net his second hat trick in as many games for the Azaleas. 

“Anytime you can have someone score like that, it really takes the pressure off of you. He just moves off the ball really well, gets into good spaces and when he gets in front of goal he’s a really good finisher,” AFC Mobile manager Nate Nicholas said.

Mobile dominated possession in the early minutes of the game, but was unable to present a real challenge to Real United’s veteran keeper Todd Langlinaus. However, the home team attack of Ogbonna, Clairy Kengeye, Abdal Almutairi and Erik Aispuro controlled possession and kept the ball in their attacking third for much of the match.

Real United was called for a handball in the box in the 33rd minute. Ogbonna stepped up and slotted home the penalty, but it was called back by the referee, who signaled encroachment into the penalty box by an AFC Mobile player. Ogbonna coolly slotted the second attempt home as well, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.

The Nigerian national doubled his tally two minutes into first-half stoppage time. Ogbonna played the ball to Tomas Lopez who threaded the ball between two Riverhawk defenders to the feet of Greg Hosford. Hosford was knocked down by Real United’s TJ Gines, but Ogbonna followed the ball into the box and scored the goal that gave the Azaleas a 2-0 lead at the half. 

Ogbonna completed his hat trick soon after the start of the second half. Jackson Barber won the ball on a crushing tackle to a Riverhawks player then played the ball down the wing to KC Espoir. Espoir placed a cross across the box to Ogbonna who played the ball off his chest to the ground and fired it into the top left corner of the net. 

“We’ve kept working hard since the last game; we’ve been working hard in training and this season is going to be much better then last season,” said Ogbonna . 

Bradford Clark pulled a goal back for Real United after sneaking between the Mobile center backs and getting on the end of a great ball played from just outside the box to make the score 3-1, the lone goal for the visitors.

Tempers flared late in the match as Real United FC stared down the barrel of its third consecutive defeat. After losing the ball in the 80th minute, Mobile’s Greg Hosford went in with a strong tackle on Moss Point’s Thomas Keen. Keen confronted a still-grounded Hosford until Mobile’s Martin Fiemawhle rushed in and shoved him away. Fiemawhle, Hosford and Keen were separated by other players and the match officials. Hosford was given a yellow card for the original challenge. No caution was issued to Keen, who had received an earlier yellow card for unsporting behavior.

The Azaleas scored their fourth and final goal in the 91st minute after Sherman Winchester jumped in front of a free kick to win the ball, breezed through the defense, and slid the ball past the keeper into the far left corner.

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip next weekend to face GCPL newcomers Gulf Coast Rangers FC from Foley, Alabama, in the first ever GCPL Battle of Mobile Bay.  Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 9th at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free. Next Saturday’s game will also be Military Appreciation Night.  All veterans and active duty military personnel will be admitted free of charge. 

AFC Mobile’s Saturday Game Against Port City FC Postponed

This Saturday’s contest against Port City FC in Gulfport, Mississippi has been postponed due to inclement weather.

“We were really looking forward to this away trip and the renewal of our rivalry with the boys from Gulfport, but we understand their decision to postpone the game in light of the impending weather,” said AFC Mobile Board Member Patrick Dungan.

According to meteorologists, Gulfport is set to experience heavy rainfall and thunderstorms this Saturday, May 26th.

Due to this postponement, AFC Mobile will provide the fans who purchased tickets for the Gulf Coast Tours Fan Bus to Gulfport the option to receive a full refund or credit towards a future bus trip this season.

“It’s a hazard of the business in this region, unfortunately. We’re obviously disappointed we won’t get to celebrate Memorial Day weekend with a match against our biggest rivals,” AFC Mobile CFO Sean Landry said. “Mostly, we’re disappointed for our fans, many of whom won’t be able to make the trip out for a midweek makeup match, which means this match won’t have the atmosphere it deserves. We’ll work with the good people at Port City FC to select a makeup date that works for both clubs, and we’re looking forward to getting back on the field at The Lip in a week when we host Real United FC for the first time.”

AFC Mobile is currently working with Port City FC to find a makeup date. Those details will be released as soon as a date has been finalized.

AFC Mobile will return to the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex, located at 3610 Michael Boulevard, for a home game against Moss Point’s Real United FC on Saturday, June 2nd at 7:00 p.m. As always, tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge.

AFC Mobile Gets First Win of GCPL Season Against Cajun SC

Chisom Ogbonna netted the first hat trick in AFC Mobile history to lead the Azaleas to a 3-1 win over Cajun Soccer Club of Lafayette, Louisiana.

We knew after losing our first home game we had to pick up some points somewhere, so this was a big win for us to pick up those three points we lost at home, AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “Hopefully from here on out we’ll keep on accumulating points because we want to be in one of those playoff spots.”

The Azaleas opened the game with an early chance from Erik Aispuro. Ogbonna played the ball to Aispuro on the right wing, but his shot sailed over the crossbar. The pair would link up for the game’s first goal. Aispuro played the ball into Ogbonna who scored his first goal of the night from close range.

Ten minutes later, Ogbonna doubled his tally. After winning a crushing tackle in the midfield, Iba Ndaw boomed down the left flank and played the ball across the face off goal that was cooley slotted home by the leading goal scorer in club history.

Mobile’s 2-0 lead would not last for long. In the 28th minute, center-back Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr. brought down a Cajun player just outside of the penalty box. Lumbreras was shown a yellow card, the first of six for the Azaleas on the night. A minute later a Cajun free kick ricocheted off the crossbar. Mobile was unable to clear the lose ball and Cajun’s Berkley Laviere put the ball in the back of the net for the home team, bringing the score to 2-1.

Despite conseding that lone goal, Nicholas said the Azaleas did a much better job of defending this week after letting in four goals against Pensacola FC last weekend in Mobile.

We still need to work on it. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a defensive problem, it’s kind of a team defending thing we need to work on. Tracking runners from the midfield and other places a little bit quicker,” Nicholas said. “But we did give up a few chances…and tonight we’re lucky that Cajun didn’t finish all the chances they had, but neither did we.

Late in the first half Lumbreras took a hard knock and was replaced by Duck Vu, who made his AFC Mobile debut. Last season Vu was an Honorable Mention All-Conference player for Biloxi City FC (now rebranded as Port City FC).

Both teams would have one more solid chance before the end of the first half. A shot from Iba Ndaw was parried out for an AFC Mobile corner, but the ball was easily handled by Cajun.

In stoppage time, KC Espoir was shown yellow outside the box. Cajun’s rocket of a free kick rattled off the crossbar and was cleared by Iba Ndaw.

Ogbonna nearly completed his hat trick early in the second half, but his shot went just wide of the net.

Chisom Ogbonna goes up for the ball in AFC Mobile’s 3-1 win over Cajun Soccer Club on Saturday May 19, 2018.

Cajun almost equalized in the 64th minute when a nice ball found its way through the Mobile backline and was collected by keeper Barou Ndaw. Saturday’s match marked the first time that brothers Barou and Iba Ndaw shared the pitch in an AFC Mobile match.

Ogbonna did complete his hat trick in the 84th minute to kill off the game. Ogbonna finished a great ball from another player making his AFC Mobile debut, Donte Oliver. Oliver was an All-Eastern Conference player for Biloxi City FC last season.

AFC Mobile will travel to Gulfport, Mississippi, to take on Port City FC in the first leg of the “Forgotten Coast Cup.Kickoff is May 26th at 7 p.m. at Herbert Wilson Stadium. The Azaleas will once again be reserving a bus for supporters wishing to make the trip. Don’t miss the match that Non League America calls “The Realest Rivalry in American Soccer. For more details on how you can ride the fan bus, visit www.afcmobile.net.

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip in two weeks to take on GCPL newcomers Real United FC Riverhawks. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

Getting to Know You: Cajun Soccer Club

This weekend, AFC Mobile will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana for a cross-conference matchup against the Cajun Soccer Club. Awaiting them there will be one of the most consistently dominant sides in the GCPL. Coming off a 1-1 draw against Boca Knights at LUS Fiber Stadium, CSC will attempt to earn all three points in its second home match of the season. Meanwhile, AFC Mobile, following an offensive firestorm in a 4-3 loss to Pensacola FC, will be looking to steal some points in one of the toughest places to play in the GCPL.

CLUB: Cajun Soccer Club

NICKNAME: CSC

Cajun Soccer Club pulled off what had never been done in the GCPL before, when it became the first team to knock CD Motagua of New Orleans out of the playoffs. It held tight in the GCPL Cup Championship Game, but ultimately finished as league runner-up in a bitterly contested 1-0 loss to Gaffa FC.

Now the team has reloaded bringing back much of the cast from last season to try to get over that final hurdle and clinch their first GCPL Cup….

PLAYERS TO WATCH: CSC has a plethora of attacking options to choose from, but the man that the offense runs through is Mickey Ledger. Ledger, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines international, has played in senior team competitions against the USMNT. Last year, he was perhaps the top attacker in the GCPL and won its Golden Boot. This year he will be joined by former Honduran U23 Erick Medina at left back. Medina has international experience and will bring not only a toughness but a sense of calm awareness to the CSC defense and attack

The club can be found on Facebook at @CajunSoccerClubMensTeam and Twitter at @CajunSoccerClub.

AFC Mobile Falls 4-3 in GCPL Opener

Despite a late rally and a goal in the 85th minute, AFC Mobile fell 4-3 to Pensacola FC at home in the first Gulf Coast Premier League match of the season.

Pensacola started on the front foot, nearly opening the scoring in the fourth minute of the match when a shot from Pensacola’s Matt Brooks ricocheted off the crossbar and out for a Mobile goal kick. Four minutes later, Pensacola’s Dillon Gallet found his way in behind the Mobile defense, but keeper Elijah Gibson collected Gallet’s attempt.

Minutes later Mobile forward Iba Ndaw was brought down outside the box and awarded a free kick. Ndaw curled in a free kick into the left corner to give the Azaleas a 1-0 lead. It was Ndaw’s second free kick goal in an AFC Mobile shirt.

“You definitely could see we had some attacking talent out there. Iba Ndaw had a couple more goals. That’s been a great pickup for us.” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said.

In the 21st minute, Chisom Ogbonna beat the Pensacola defense but his shot was easily collected by Pensacola keeper Rudy Seelman. Pensacola would nearly equalize in the 26th minute but Christopher Zeller’s header was stopped by Gibson.

Pensacola’s equalizer would not be delayed long, however, coming in the 30th minute in the form of an own goal after Martin Fiemawhle’s attempt to collect a low cross from Pensacola ended up in the back of the net. But only three minutes later, the Azaleas took a 2-1 lead after a shot from Ndaw fell to Ogbonna in at the back post.

Chisom Ogbonna after scoring against Pensacola FC on May 12, 2018. (Photo: Seth Laubinger)

In the 36th minute, Ndaw was fouled hard and returned to his feet gingerly. Minutes later coach Nicholas subbed Ndaw off for Abdul Almutairi. Almutairi, a former Kuwaiti U-17 international, was able to slot in several attacking positions throughout the match in his GCPL and AFC Mobile debut.

Just before the end of the half, Pensacola’s Isaiah Lopez headed in a shot at the back post to level the game at 2-2 after a high cross went untouched. Seconds later, Lopez was shown yellow during stoppage time of the first half after a hard flying tackle.

Pensacola took their first lead of the game in the 64th minute when Alik Morgan slotted in a low cross that deflected off Gibson. As the away team scored its third goal, Mobile centerback Pablo Sanjuan Delgado came off with a leg injury and was replaced with Guillermo Lumbreras, Jr.  

“For him to get injured and give up the game-leading goal at that time, at the same time, it was a tough pill to swallow.” Nicholas said.

The Azaleas nearly equalized in the 68th minute when Ndaw beat the Pensacola defense, but his low shot went across the face of goal. Two minutes later, Pensacola took a 4-2 lead after a scramble in the box.

Pensacola almost iced the match with a fifth goal on the night when an advancing Elijah Gibson was chipped, but the shot was cleared off the line by Mobile’s Markos Mallis, who played all 90 minutes for the home side. 

As is their wont, Mobile made it close. In the 85th minute, midfielder David Valverde’s pass opened the Pensacola defense to find Erik Aispuro on the wing. Aispuro then sent in a cross to the penalty spot, where Ndaw powered in the shot to put Mobile back in the game with five minutes left to play, sending the 871 fans in attendance into a frenzy. 

The Azaleas pushed for an equalizer late, but a last ditch free kick at the end of stoppage time was easily cleared. The match ended 4-3. 

AFC Mobile will travel to Lafayette, Louisiana to take on Cajun Soccer Club in the first of two out of conference matches this season on Saturday. That match kicks off at 6 p.m. at LUS FIber stadium. 

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip in three weeks to take on GCPL newcomers Real United FC Riverhawks. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and children 12 and under are admitted free.

 

Getting to Know You: Pensacola FC

The preseason has officially ended and Gulf Coast Premier League action begins this weekend! AFC Mobile’s first opportunity to test its merit in regular season GCPL action will be this Saturday, May 12th, against Pensacola FC. Pensacola FC considers itself “The People’s Club” and has a strong group of former University of West Florida alumni at its disposal. Last year, AFC Mobile lost to them at The Lip before pulling off a stunning draw at Ashton Brosnaham Stadium in Pensacola. This year, both teams have reloaded, Pensacola FC has rebranded, and round two could be fascinating.

CLUB: Pensacola FC

NICKNAME: The 59ers

Last year was Pensacola FC’s debut year in the Gulf Coast Premier League. In that opening salvo, they took on the moniker of “Gulf Coast Texans” after the Pensacola-based youth club where several of the players either coached or started playing. For the 2018 season, they have rebranded to better represent the City of Pensacola by taking on the new name “Pensacola FC,” which was the youth club’s name prior to becoming an affiliate of the Dallas Texans youth club.

In their debut season, Pensacola FC found themselves relatively successful, finishing the season with a 6-1-3 record. It came down to the last Wednesday of the regular season when Biloxi City held the 59ers’ fate in their hand. If Biloxi had drawn with or beaten Gaffa FC, PFC would have qualified for the playoffs, but Gaffa won and Pensacola was sent home without tasting the playoffs in their inaugural year.

With many of the same players back this year and Nolan Intermoia taking over coaching duties from Nick Cardosa, the club is hoping to continue their success from last season and make that final push into an expanded playoff field.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The 59ers have studs on both sides of the pitch including a few younger UWF graduates. However, it is the work of Lafayette-native Dillon Gallet that spectators will want to watch. Gallet was an All-GCPL East selection and finished tied for fifth place in the Golden Boot race. He may be one of the fastest players in the GCPL and will prove a matchup headache all night for any team. Defensively, Chance Chancellor was also an All-GCPL East selection. He has taken on player-coaching duties this year, but will make sure that his defensive line will again be one of the best in the GCPL.

The club can be found on Facebook at @pensacolafc1559 and Twitter at @PensacolaFC.

Tickets to Saturday’s game are just $5 each, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. This Saturday is Teacher Appreciation Night! All school employees with a valid school ID will be admitted at no charge! All AFC Mobile home games are played at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile.

AFC Mobile’s preseason ends with 2-1 nail-biter loss to NPSL’s New Orleans Jesters

AFC Mobile was denied a historic upset after giving up a late goal to the New Orleans Jesters on Saturday night in Mobile. The Jesters came back from down a goal to beat the Azaleas 2-1 in front of over 650 fans in the final preseason game before beginning the 2018 Gulf Coast Premier League campaign.

The Jesters came to Mobile in preparation for their 2018 National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) season and their US Open Cup match this week. Last season the Jesters went unbeaten in the NPSL’s Southeastern Conference. The game was the first time the Azaleas welcomed NPSL opposition to Mobile

“They are a level above us, but I thought we showed pretty well. We’re still bringing in a couple players that have trained with us once or twice.” said AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas. “I was very happy with what I saw. Obviously we would have loved the tie or the win, but I couldn’t ask for more from the guys. They gave everything on the field.”

The Jesters asserted their dominance early in the match with a few chances early on. In the 9th minute, Jesters forward Mason Walsh beat the Azalea defense, but his shot was saved by keeper Elijah Gibson. It would be the first of six saves in the first half for Gibson.

Despite ceding most of possession to New Orleans during the opening minutes of the match, the home team found the back of the net first after a Jesters own goal. Mobile’s Matt Merrill played a long ball from midfield to forward Iba Ndaw. The ball did not find Ndaw’s feet because it was deflected by a Jesters defender, but it continued travelling toward the Jesters’ goal. New Orleans keeper Chad Collins backtracked and made a sliding attempt to clear the ball away, but it rolled over the goal line before he could do so, and AFC Mobile took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.

After falling behind, the Jesters continued to attack the Mobile goal. In the 27th minute, a long range effort from the Jesters was punched out of bounds by Gibson leading to a corner kick. The Jesters sent the corner in and Gibson saved another Jesters shot. After a scramble in front of the goal, the ball was cleared off the goal line by defender Sherman Winchester. Winchester had one of the brightest performances for the Azaleas in a night full of stellar play.

The Jesters continued to push for an equalizer for the remainder of the first half. Ollie Roberts nearly equalized in the 34th minute, and the Jesters almost pulled one back during first half stoppage time. Despite the pressure from New Orleans, an incredible performance from Gibson in goal and rock solid defending from the Mobile backline of Winchester, Brantton Greene, Markos Mallis, and Spring Hill College’s Pablo Sanjuán Delgado was enough to maintain the one-goal lead heading into the half.

“I feel we did well. It was a hard game…starting with this team (the Jesters) is good for us. We did a lot of good things,” said Delgado after his debut game for AFC Mobile.

At the start of the second half, Nicholas replaced Gibson with keeper Barou Ndaw. Despite giving up two goals in the second half, Ndaw’s performance in goal rivaled Gibson’s first half performance as he finished with seven saves on the night.

The Jesters had a few chances in the first fifteen minutes of the second half before Igor Siscov collected a lose ball in the box to level the score.

Mobile’s best chance to regain the lead happened in the 75th minute after Chisom Ogbonna found his way behind the New Orleans defense, but the ball was collected by the Jesters’ keeper. The keeper punted the ball into midfield to the feet of Mobile’s David Valverde who fired for goal from 30 yards out, but his shot was saved. Valverde, a Davidson High School alumnus, former UAB Blazer, and former Birmingham Hammer, had an excellent game in the midfield in his debut for his hometown team.

“It’s really good to come back home and play with some players I used to play with. The atmosphere is great. I knew from the start there was gonna be a lot of people here, and I was very excited to come and play here,” Valverde said.

The Jesters took the lead in the 86th minute after a great save from Barou Ndaw fell to the center of the box and was fired in by Luke LaVanway. Mobile attempted to tie in the dying minutes of the game, but could not find the equalizer.

AFC Mobile will return to The Lip next week to take on Pensacola FC (formerly the Gulf Coast Texans) to open the 2018 GCPL season. Kickoff is Saturday, May 12th at 7:00 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex located at 3610 Michael Boulevard in Mobile. Tickets are only $5 and kids 12 and under are admitted free. Saturday’s game is also Teacher Appreciation Night at The Lip, and all teachers will be admitted free of charge. AFC Mobile is also proud to welcome Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson to perform the ceremonial pregame coin flip. Come show your appreciation for Commissioner Hudson for her tireless advocacy for the soccer community in Mobile and for making the Mobile County Soccer Complex project a reality.