Tag: Lower Division Soccer

AFC Mobile Clinches Playoff Berth With 2-1 Over Pensacola FC

AFC Mobile made history on Saturday night by clinching a playoff spot for the first time in the club’s short history. The Azaleas’ 2-1 win over Pensacola FC along with Port City FC’s 4-3 victory over Rangers FC sent AFC Mobile to the playoffs and one step closer to a Gulf Coast Premier League Cup championship.

“All credit to our players for the performance tonight. They knew what was at stake and they performed for 90 plus minutes,” said head coach Steve Wieczorek. “I’m really happy and appreciative for all the support to this group of players from the board, from the fans and at the end of the day making it to the playoffs was the step we needed to take to reward all the hard work for all the people that have been involved in the club over the last couple of years. And it’s because of all those steps and all of that work that preceded us that these players were able to do this tonight.”

It was a slow start to the match for both teams, with neither side having any threating chances. Mobile’s first real chance of the game came in the 26th minute after Tilman Schober played a great ball from the right wing into Arad Lev-Ari. However, Lev-Ari’s low-rolling shot went skirting across the face of goal and just past the left post.

Pensacola responded moments later in the 33rd minute after a booming cross was sent into the box and headed at point-blank range towards Mobile’s goal. Mobile’s goalkeeer, Domenic Nascimben, jumped straight up and palmed the ball away from goal. The ball was then cleared out by Mobile’s Ira Bowens. Nascimben had a strong showing in the final minutes of the first half, making two other crucial saves to keep the match level 0-0.

The Azaleas came out strong in the second half. In the 49th minute, Tilman Schober took a shot that dragged just wide to the left of goal. In the 52nd minute, Batevya Mediateur played a beautiful long ball from midfield that found the feet of Sam Blackburn. Blackburn was brought down in the box, and the Azaleas were awarded a penalty. Arad Lev-Ari stepped up to the spot and coolly slotted home the penalty for Mobile, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.

Schober nearly gave the Azaleas a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute, but once again his shot went just left of the post. Two minutes later, Pensacola almost equalized on a long-range effort from Lyuboslav Vitanov, but his shot went just over the crossbar.

Mobile took the lead in the 76th minute courtesy of an Arad Lev-Ari free kick. Sam Blackburn once again was taken down by the 59ers nearly 30 yards away from goal. Lev-Ari’s free-kick sailed past the keeper and ricocheted off the inside of the left post and into the net to give the Azaleas a 2-0 lead.

Lev-Ari began the season as a crucial midfield player for the Azaleas but has stepped up to fill the shoes of striker Iba Ndaw after Ndaw’s injury. Lev-Ari is one of several players that have made Mobile home for the summer and have been vital for the Azaleas this season. Lev-Ari says that the chemistry between the local players and out of town college players is the reason this season has been so successful.

“From day one the chemistry was so good. Everyone was so nice. We hang out together after practice, after the games, we go out, we go eat together. The local boys here, Memo, Erik, Max, Baba, Iba, Sherman… we have a lot of local players that are really talented as well and they really helped us settle in,” Lev-Ari said. “And a lot of them really stepped up. The fans, the entire city, it’s been a great experience for us, and I think that’s what made us better than the other teams that didn’t make the playoffs.”

Pensacola’s Lyuboslav Vitanov pulled one back for the away team in the 87th minute after heading in the ball off a corner. The 59ers nearly equalized in the 95th minute when Salia Carr cleanly tackled a Pensacola player in the box to prevent them from scoring on a breakaway. Moments later, the referee blew the whistle, and AFC Mobile officially clinched its first playoff berth in club history.

Starting right back Sherman Winchester, who has been with AFC Mobile since the club’s first season, believes there’s something special about this group that led them to the playoffs this season.

“The past few years we’ve always had the potential to do it, but this year it’s just something special with the new boys that have come in, coach as well, it’s just changed the whole vibe of the team, everybody just wants it more. It’s a great feeling,” Winchester said.

When asked if AFC Mobile was going to win the GCPL Cup, Winchester smiled and said, “Every single time man. Every single time, from now on.”

AFC Mobile has one last regular season match before the playoffs next Saturday at Rangers FC. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Volanta Stadium in Fairhope, Alabama. Make the trip across the bay and support the Azaleas as they attempt to win the the Gulf Coast Premier League’s Eastern Conference.

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AFC Mobile Moves Into Playoff Spot With 2-1 Win over Hattiesburg FC

AFC Mobile pulled into second place in the Eastern Conference with a win over Hattiesburg FC on Saturday.  The Azaleas were able to overcome a rough start, collect three points, and move into a playoff position despite missing two key players in Iba Ndaw and Tilman Schober. 

The Azaleas fell behind early in the 8th minute. Following a free-kick from just outside the penalty area that goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben dove to the ground to save, Hattiesburg FC’s Tim Tuomikowki collected the rebound and chipped it into the net give the visitors a 1-0 lead. 

“We definitely did respond very well tonight. To recover the game after what might be a slowish start, but the reality is I think we well and truly deserved to win tonight regardless of conceding at the start,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek. 

Mobile attempted to pull one back with chances from the club’s leading all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna in the 16th and 19th minutes, but neither shot truly threatened Hattiesburg.

In the 28th minute, Ogbonna was brought down leading to a free-kick just outside the box. The birthday boy, Arad Lev-Ari, stepped up and hit a rocket of a free-kick to equalize for the Azaleas. Usually a force in the midfield for Mobile, Lev-Ari played in the forward position filling in for the injured Ndaw. 

“It’s a new position for me. It’s kind of difficult to adjust to it. I didn’t get the ball as much as I usually get it,” said Lev-Ari, “but I think it worked well for the team. When I got the ball it was in good positions so I could either shoot or pass, so it worked out.”  

“How we tried to penetrate them was a little bit different than how we’ve approached games in the past,” Wieczorek said. “Obviously, Arad certainly delivered with his mobility and his finishing.”

The Azaleas took the lead shortly after the start of the second half when Sam Blackburn slotted home the game-winner from a tight angle. Lev-Ari was involved with his second goal of the night after providing the assist. 

“We made a bit of a change at halftime. Coach Steve was brave and made the decision to move me into an attacking right back position. He gave me a bit of a license to go forward and attack. I managed to find a little bit of space there. Arad, as he’s done so many times this season, managed to play a great pass and then I managed to do the rest,” said Blackburn. 

The Azaleas created a few more chances throughout the second half but couldn’t find the back of the net. In the 72nd minute, Ogbonna played a great ball that nearly found the feet of Lev-Ari, but it was cleared by the visiting team. Despite not scoring, Ogbonna shined for the Azaleas putting in one of his best performances of the season on both sides of the ball. 

The last 15 minutes of the game saw yellow cards shown to Mobile’s Eddie Dakwa and Ogbonna, as well as a chance for Hattiesburg hit the post, but the Azaleas managed to hang on and come away with a 2-1 victory.

The result leaves Mobile tied on points with conference-leaders Tallahassee SC at the top of the table, with the Battle Lions holding the second tie-breaker of goal differential by 2 goals.  Gulf Coast Rangers, who were also tied on points with Mobile and Tallahassee going into Week 7, dropped to third place following a 2-0 loss to Tallahassee.

AFC Mobile will return to action this Saturday, June 29th, as they head to Gulfport to take on Port City FC in the second leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup. The Azaleas beat the reigning GCPL champions earlier this season at the Lip 3-1. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Herbert Wilson Stadium in Gulfport, Mississippi. 

AFC Mobile Beats Baton Rouge 7-2 In Final Preseason Test

Behind four goals from Iba Ndaw, AFC Mobile rolled over Baton Rouge United 7-2 in their final preseason test before the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League campaign.

“Iba’s job is to bounce to the ball in the middle third of the field, and then get in the box and put it in the back of the net, and today he did exactly that,” said AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek.

Ndaw opened the scoring in the seventh minute with an assist from his former Spring Hill College teammate, club vice captain Tilman Schober.

“I have great chemistry with Tilman. We’ve played together in a lot of games, and he understands me well, and I understand him. I’ve always enjoyed playing with him because he’s an unselfish player and he always knows where to find me,” Ndaw said. “We’re going to do a lot of good things together this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

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Tillman Schober and Iba Ndaw celebrate after a goal. Photo: Seth Laubinger

Ndaw netted his second in the 21st minute after getting on the end of a ball from Sam Blackburn, and he completed his hat trick by scoring in the 28th minute.

“It’s always a fun time playing in front of the home crowd, and after our first two preseason games we owed it to them to turn up today,” Ndaw said.

Baton Rouge scored an own goal in the 34th minute. Just three minutes later, Blackburn scored his first career goal for AFC Mobile with an assist from Chisom Ogbonna. The Azaleas took a 6-0 lead into the half after Ndaw scored his fourth and final goal of the match.

“I think he could’ve scored more goals,” Wieczorek said. “That’s been the big thing with Iba. He is capable of so much, and we just need to continue to drive that out of him.”

The match quieted down after a mass substitution for the Azaleas to start the second half. Baton Rouge United got on the board in the 83rd minute. However, the Azaleas responded just three minutes later with a goal from the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna. Baton Rouge pulled one more back in the 90th minute and the match finished 7-2 in favor of the home team.

“In the second half, although we did concede two, we had a lot of the ball which shows we’re good in possession,” Wieczorek said. “Yes, some negatives to concede, especially when we’re well on top like that, gives us some things that we can improve on going into our first game.”

AFC Mobile will kick off the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League season at home next week against newcomers Tallahassee Soccer Club. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are $10, and all kids 12 and under will be admitted free. Season tickets are on sale for $40 and can be purchased here.

AFC Mobile Wins Soccer Round Table Logo Cup

AFC Mobile began 2018 with a cup victory on Wednesday night, despite the season being a few months away. The club won the Soccer Round Table Logo Cup, a Twitter competition organized by the podcast and website Soccer Round Table. AFC Mobile was the last team standing out of 128 lower-division soccer teams participating in the contest.

“I designed the logo a few years before we actually had a team. There was a ton of thought put into it,” club president Abram Chamberlain said. “The fact that people in Mobile and throughout the country looked at that logo and decided that it is the best lower division soccer logo is a humbling response. It is proof that we have built something incredibly special in Mobile.”

On the road to the title, AFC Mobile knocked out some major teams, including USL side Sacramento Republic FC, perennial NPSL power Detroit City FC, the ever popular Minneapolis City SC, and last year’s US Open Cup darlings Christos FC in the final.

According to the contest’s sponsors, AFC Mobile will receive a set of 18 kits from Impact ProWear and a trophy. Keep an eye on our social media pages for more details about the kits in the future!