Tag: minor league soccer

AFC Mobile Falls to Tallahassee SC in Final Game of the Season

Tallahassee SC edged AFC Mobile 2-1 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex on Saturday night in both teams’ last match of the season. The result knocked AFC Mobile out of the running for a playoff berth. 

“I’m a big believer in the fact that a game shows you what you deserve. We drew three games and lost today from winning positions. That’s not good enough if you want to be a playoff team,” AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczroek said. “The reality is that we’ve had a lot of attrition in terms of players moving on at different parts of the season and we are where we deserve to be. So tonight’s performance kind of typifies that.” 

The Azaleas started the night on the right foot with a goal from forward Iba Ndaw. In the third minute of the match, Clairy Kengeye chipped the ball over the Tallahassee backline onto the feet of Ndaw, who charged at the Tallahassee goal and fired the shot past keeper Grant Wollam. 

There were only a few chances for either side for the remainder of the first half. In the 31st minute, a hard collision in the Tallahassee box sent Mobile’s Thierry Zabarel to the concussion protocol. Zabarel was cleared to return to the match just before the end of the half. However, the injury led to five minutes of stoppage time. In the third minute of stoppage, Tallahassee’s Cam Earls slotted home a shot off of a free kick equalizing the score just before halftime. 

The second half was a cagey affair with few quality chances for either side. AFC Mobile’s all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna checked into the match with thirty minutes left to play. He created a few chances but nothing that threatened the Tallahassee defense. The Battle Lions took the lead in the 83rd minute after Tallahassee was awarded a penalty. Sy Fontenot stepped up to take the spot kick. His shot was saved by Mobile’s keeper Will Blake, but Fontenot put away the rebound giving the Battle Lions the 2-1 victory on the night as well as the first time that either team had won a match in the history of this fixture. Until this match, all three previous fixtures between the clubs ended in a draw. 

After the match, AFC Mobile’s head coach Steve Wieczorek reflected on the season for the Azaleas.  “We put in some really good performances in terms of being competitive in games, but really just lacked whatever is needed to be where we want to be,” Wieczorek said. “We are where we should be, but not where we want to be as a club.  

Wieczorek also said that the club will get to work preparing for the 2022 season right away.  “There needs to be a full assessment of all the choices I’ve made. Obviously as a coach I’m going to think about what choices I made. Did I play the right players at the right positions… at the right times… did I make the right choices throughout the season?  And then I’m going to assess if I brought in the right players. Were they the right players in terms of culture and in terms of ability? And then we’ll assess where we need to go from here. Because we can’t have a thousand people watch us finish in the bottom half of the league.” 

AFC Mobile finished its inaugural season in the NPSL fifth among eight teams in the Gulf Coast Conference.

Tallahassee SC edged AFC Mobile 2-1 at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex on Saturday night in both teams’ last match of the season. The result knocked AFC Mobile out of the running for a playoff berth. 

“I’m a big believer in the fact that a game shows you what you deserve. We drew three games and lost today from winning positions. That’s not good enough if you want to be a playoff team,” AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczroek said. “The reality is that we’ve had a lot of attrition in terms of players moving on at different parts of the season and we are where we deserve to be. So tonight’s performance kind of typifies that.” 

The Azaleas started the night on the right foot with a goal from forward Iba Ndaw. In the third minute of the match, Clairy Kengeye chipped the ball over the Tallahassee backline onto the feet of Ndaw, who charged at the Tallahassee goal and fired the shot past keeper Grant Wollam. 

There were only a few chances for either side for the remainder of the first half. In the 31st minute, a hard collision in the Tallahassee box sent Mobile’s Thierry Zabarel to the concussion protocol. Zabarel was cleared to return to the match just before the end of the half. However, the injury led to five minutes of stoppage time. In the third minute of stoppage, Tallahassee’s Cam Earls slotted home a shot off of a free kick equalizing the score just before halftime. 

The second half was a cagey affair with few quality chances for either side. AFC Mobile’s all-time leading goalscorer Chisom Ogbonna checked into the match with thirty minutes left to play. He created a few chances but nothing that threatened the Tallahassee defense. The Battle Lions took the lead in the 83rd minute after Tallahassee was awarded a penalty. Sy Fontenot stepped up to take the spot kick. His shot was saved by Mobile’s keeper Will Blake, but Fontenot put away the rebound giving the Battle Lions the 2-1 victory on the night as well as the first time that either team had won a match in the history of this fixture. Until this match, all three previous fixtures between the clubs ended in a draw. 

After the match, AFC Mobile’s head coach Steve Wieczorek reflected on the season for the Azaleas.  “We put in some really good performances in terms of being competitive in games, but really just lacked whatever is needed to be where we want to be,” Wieczorek said. “We are where we should be, but not where we want to be as a club.  

Wieczorek also said that the club will get to work preparing for the 2022 season right away.  “There needs to be a full assessment of all the choices I’ve made. Obviously as a coach I’m going to think about what choices I made. Did I play the right players at the right positions… at the right times… did I make the right choices throughout the season?  And then I’m going to assess if I brought in the right players. Were they the right players in terms of culture and in terms of ability? And then we’ll assess where we need to go from here. Because we can’t have a thousand people watch us finish in the bottom half of the league.” 

AFC Mobile finished its inaugural season in the NPSL fifth among eight teams in the Gulf Coast Conference.

Pensacola FC Scores Late to Sink AFC Mobile 1-0

Photo Credit: Seth Laubinger

After days of uncertainty due to the looming threat of Tropical Depression Claudette, Pensacola FC was able to make the trip west on I-10 to take on AFC Mobile on what turned out to be a beautiful night for soccer at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Despite the beautiful weather, the night ended in depression for Mobile fans as Pensacola FC scored a goal in the 89th minute to seal a 1-0 victory. 

The Azaleas had a significant chance in the first half when striker Karl Mbouombouo was played past the Pensacola backline by Ronaldo Fortune. However, Pensacola’s keeper, Jules Dechert, closed down Mbouombouo, forcing the forward to play a shot straight at the keeper.  Mobile had another chance in the 23rd minute when Fortune’s low-rolling, long-range effort slid just to the left of the goal. Fortune led the Azaleas to another chance just five minutes later when he picked the ball up in midfield and sprayed it wide to Clairy Kengeye, who throttled a shot while being closed down by a Pensacola defender. Kengeye’s effort was stopped but bobbled by Dechert, who collected the ball as Kengeye ran at him. 

Dechert sent the ball down the field for the 59ers. After a lovely passage of play, Pensacola took a shot that was saved by Mobile’s goalkeeper Will Blake. It was one of several saves the Mobile native made on the night to keep the Azaleas level.

The home team took another chance in the 32nd minute when Fortune was played in behind the Pensacola backline by Kengeye. Fortune brought the ball down and tried to chip Dechert, but the Pensacola keeper kept his composure, reached up, and saved Fortune’s shot. Then, in the 36th minute, Mobile’s Kengeye was shown a yellow card for a light shove on a Pensacola player.  

“We put ourselves in a position that we needed to be in to score goals, and there were a couple of other moments in the first half as well where we were able to do that,” AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wiezorek said. “Unfortunately, in the game of soccer when you don’t capitalize on those chances, the game has ebbs and flows, and the flow went back against us. You get what you get when it doesn’t go in the back of the net.” 

Mobile made two changes to start the second half. Eddie Dakwa came on for Salia Carr and Iba Ndaw for Karl Mbouombouo. However, the 59ers came out strong in the second half and were awarded a free kick in the 51st minute, which was saved by a diving Will Blake, continuing the dominant goalkeeping performances seen from both sides in the first half. 

In what had been a fantastic attacking performance so far, the Azaleas attempted to sharpen their attacking edge by bringing on Chisom Ogbonna for Blake Palmquist. The home team nearly took the lead in the 69th minute when Fortune charged down the right-wing and pulled the ball back to avoid Dechert. However, Dechert slid into Fortune, causing him to go down and causing the fans to clamor for a penalty that was not given. Ten minutes later, Clairy Kengeye saw his second yellow card on the night, leaving the home team down to 10 men. 

“I’m disappointed obviously,” Wieczorek said. “I never put things on the referee, that’s the referee’s decision and choice, but obviously he has to know that the player has a yellow card, so that decision has to be worthy to be another yellow card because you understand that you change the dynamic of the game drastically. So now we went from being in a position where we had a decent foothold in the game and could potentially score, and now we’re just hanging on. And we couldn’t.” 

Pensacola’s Samuel Richards was cautioned in the 87th minute when he brought down Mobile’s Iba Ndaw on a counter-attack. The fans clamored for more than a red card on what they believed was a clear goalscoring opportunity, but Richards was shown only a yellow. This set up a Mobile free-kick from just beyond midfield. Defender Zubair Taylor sent a beautiful ball into the box that was headed wide right of the goal by Stanley Joseph. 

Pensacola took the lead in the 89th minute when Jamaican international Jabari Hylton received a ball in the box and maneuvered his way past Mobile’s Stanley Joseph to slot home the game-winner. The goal was Hylton’s second in as many games for the 59ers. 

Pensacola FC will attempt to build on this win when they travel to Tommy Oliver Stadium in Panama City this Tuesday to take on Florida Roots FC. This ended a four-match homestand for the Azaleas, who will now travel to the Sunshine State to play three matches on the road. The first of which is also against Florida Roots this Thursday night. 

AFC Mobile Draws New Orleans Jesters 1-1

Photo Credit: Michael Shartava

AFC Mobile drew the New Orleans Jesters 1-1 on Saturday night at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex to remain unbeaten at home in the 2021 season.

“The Jesters are a tried and true NPSL club. So the positives – we’ve played them twice, we’ve got two draws. They were competitive games, we’re evenly matched. Maybe they had a little bit more of it today, but again we’ve had enough chances to win games and win this game tonight. So I’m proud of the guys’ effort,” AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek said. 

It was an even affair in the first twenty minutes of the match with few scoring opportunities for both sides. Mobile’s Ronaldo Fortune provided a spark for the home side when goalkeeper Will Blake played a long ball out of his own box, finding the feet of Fortune in behind the New Orleans defense. Fortune was taken down in the box and the home fans clamored for a penalty, but it was not given. The Azaleas opened the scoring in the 20th minute thanks to some fantastic combination play between Fortune and midfielder Soane Deminguet. Fortune played the ball to Deminguet, who dribbled down the left wing and sent an arching cross back to Fortune at the top of the box. Fortune chested the ball down and struck it with his first touch, sending it soaring over New Orleans’ keeper Lemoy Graham and into the back of the net. 

“Credit to Soane, it was beautiful play leading up to the goal,” Fortune said. “To be fair, he played the ball to my chest and I had a good touch and I didn’t have enough time to dribble or anything, so I just thought ‘you know what? The coaches always tell me to shoot, so why not shoot.’”

Much of the first half saw New Orleans pressing hard to equalize, forcing Mobile’s goalkeeper to make a few spectacular saves to keep the home team’s lead. However, Blake was beaten in the 45th minute when New Orleans’ Sheldon Green sweetly struck a ball at the top of the box and into the Mobile net, making the match 1-1 at the half. 

It was a defensive struggle to start the second half with both teams finding space and scoring opportunities hard to come by. Mobile saw a few chances near the end of the half when Fortune played a slick, low-rolling cross to Iba Ndaw. Ndaw tried to find Fortune to complete the one-two, but the ball was easily cleared by the Jesters. Late in the match, Mobile’s Blake Palmquist was tightly marked and his shot soared over the crossbar. 

The 1-1 draw keeps Mobile in fourth place in the NPSL Gulf Coast Conference standings. The Azaleas will play two home matches this week, welcome the second-place Southern States this Wednesday, and Pensacola FC on Saturday night. New South Alabama head football coach Kane Wommack will join us to do the opening coin toss on Wednesday night. Next Saturday night will be our annual Military Appreciation Night where military personnel are admitted for free with a valid ID. Tickets for both matches can be purchased here.

Late Equalizer Sees AFC Mobile Draw New Orleans Jesters

Photo Credit: James E. Cage Jr.

NEW ORLEANS – An early headed goal from left back Mario Gratzl was neutralized by a late equalizer as AFC Mobile drew the New Orleans Jesters 1-1 in the first meeting of the clubs in the NPSL.

“I wanted us to come here, score a goal, get a point. When you look at the game in context, we’re winning, and then they score. So you start to feel disappointed because you’re in a winning position, but overall we accomplished our objective,” AFC Mobile head coach Steve Wieczorek said. 

The match was fairly even at the start of the first half. The Azaleas were on the hunt early when the ball was picked up on a giveaway in the midfield by Mobile forward Iba Ndaw. Ndaw slotted the ball to Ronaldo Fortune, whose shot was saved by New Orleans keeper Jose Santos. 

Minutes later, AFC Mobile keeper Will Blake saved an open back-post header from New Orleans’ Jackson Hulme, the first of several crucial saves for the visitors.  

Mobile took the lead in the 15th minute on a well-worked corner kick. Soane Deminguet sent the ball into the box for Gratzl to head down and into the net, scoring the Azaleas’ first goal of the season and giving them a 1-0 lead. 

The Jesters had two chances to equalize before the break, but were kept at bay by Blake with a fingertip save that tipped a long-range effort over the bar, followed by a 37th minute stop to keep the score level and send Mobile into the half with a 1-0 lead.

“You take it one save at a time,” Blake said. “I was talking to myself a lot, saying that ‘alright, just make one save, make one save.’ That adds up, and that’ll get you the points.”

The second half saw the introduction of two veteran AFC Mobile players for the first time since 2019. Zubair Taylor came into the game for Stanley Joseph, which sent center-back Vlad Margolin to right back, making the new center-back pairing Taylor and starter Thierry Zabarel. Andrew Rhoda checked in for Blake Palmquist in a deep midfield role. The Jesters switched to a back three after halftime and sent defender Mason Morise into an attacking position.  

It was a slow start to the second half. Iba Ndaw saw a yellow card in the 61st minute after a tackle to stop a Jesters’ breakaway. The Azaleas nearly doubled their lead in the 63rd minute when Deminguet sent a backheel pass to a running Iba Ndaw in the box. The forward slotted the ball into the back of the net but was flagged offside. Minutes later, the Jesters’ Jackson Hulme was carded for a rough challenge in the midfield. 

The Jesters nearly equalized in the 70th minute when Mason Walsh picked out Morise outside the box. He rounded an advancing Blake, but sent his shot wide right from a tight angle. 

The last twenty minutes saw a flurry of substitutions for the Azaleas. Chisom Ogbonna came into the match for Iba Ndaw. In the 76th minute, Erik Aispuro replaced an injured Eddie Dakwa. Will Blake made two more crucial saves in the 77th minute after a New Orleans free kick and subsequent long-range effort. 

In the 83rd minute, Erik Aispuro got in behind the Jesters’ backline, but Santos saved his shot. A minute later, Mobile’s goalscorer Mario Gratzl earned the Azaleas’ second yellow card of the night. 

In the 90th minute, New Orleans’ Mason Walsh played in a right-footed cross that was bundled home by forward Sheldon Green after a goalmouth scramble, leveling the match at 1-1. A few minutes into stoppage time, Salia Carr came on for Jackson Wheatley on the right wing. Neither team was able to find the goal in stoppage time, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw in the first meeting of the clubs since a 2017 preseason friendly.

  “The fact that after a hard-fought 90 minutes where we achieved our goals and the guys were disappointed and upset, it tells me a lot about the character of the guys that we have, so I was really really happy,” Wieczorek said. 

The Azaleas have taken one point out of a possible six on a two-game road trip to start the NPSL season. Coach Wieczorek said he was anticipating the long-awaited return of the Azaleas to the Lip.

“I’m really excited about the next match and playing in front of our fans now. We got to have our traveling supporters come, and that was awesome. Getting to see that level of support from the Rebellion and also from the Academy families. But, I think it’s going to be special finally getting back in front of our home fans, and I think we’re gonna be ready and I think we’ll get the right result.”

AFC Mobile returns to the Lip for the first time since 2019. The Azaleas will take on their former GCPL and current NPSL Gulf Coast rivals Port City FC of Gulfport, Mississippi, in the first leg of the 2021 Forgotten Coast Cup. AFC Mobile currently holds the rivalry cup, which is determined by the aggregate score of the two matches between the teams during the regular season.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex, 3610 Michael Blvd, Mobile, AL 36609. Tickets are $10, and children 12 and under are admitted for free. Season tickets are still on sale and can be purchased here or at Braided River Brewing Company in downtown Mobile (package A only). Single-game tickets can be purchased at the gate on the night of the match or online here

Richard Moodie Named Director of Coaching for the AFC Mobile Academy

Mobile, Alabama – January 15, 2021 – University of South Alabama women’s soccer coach Richard Moodie will take over as Director of Coaching for the AFC Mobile Academy. 

“I am excited to announce the hiring of Richard Moodie as the club’s new Director of Coaching,” said Steve Wieczorek, AFC Mobile Academy technical director and first-team head coach. “It was clear to me in our work together last fall that he was the right person to lead our coaching staff and to instill our club philosophy and game model throughout the Academy.” 

Richard Moodie has been the head coach of the South Alabama women’s soccer team since December 2016. In his three seasons with the program, Moodie has led the Jaguars to two Sun Belt Conference regular-season titles and two Sun Belt Conference tournament titles. Three players from Moodie’s stint at South Alabama have played first division soccer in Europe: two in the Cypriot First Division, and one for Tottenham Hotspur of England’s FA Women’s Super League. 

“I am extremely grateful to Steve and the board for presenting this opportunity to me. Soccer in our community is growing at a rapid pace. Our goal is to provide another platform for our youth to grow both as people and soccer players.” 

With the appointment, AFC Mobile Academy’s boys director Ruben Risco will continue to serve in an advisory role, and will maintain his role as a first-team assistant and club ambassador. 

“Ruben is a valued and loyal member of our coaching team. He stepped in for us as we were getting our Academy off the ground, and provided an invaluable service to us. We’re glad to keep him on board, while finding a long-term solution for the Director of Coaching position club-wide.” Wieczorek said. 

Moodie is no stranger to the AFC Mobile Academy. He has been a member of the Academy project from day one, and last fall, he coached the club’s 2006 girls team. 

“With this being our first year as a club, it has been enjoyable to watch the growth in such a short period of time. Our goal is to create a player-centered program and maximize the potential of everyone in the club. I hope to work with our coaching staff to help achieve these goals.”

As Director of Coaching, Moodie will be assisting Wieczorek as the two college coaches working to implement a club-wide vision of tactical, technical, and values-based instruction – on and off the field.

“Coach Moodie and I plan to be very hands-on, working every day to continue to improve our club standards as we strive to create an elite playing experience, centered on individual player development and goal attainment through soccer,” Wieczorek said. 

AFC Mobile to Participate in NPSL Pilot Program

Mobile, Alabama – July 2nd, 2020 – AFC Mobile will participate in the National Premier Soccer League’s U-19 pilot program.

 

“The introduction of a U-19 pilot under the NPSL umbrella represents our commitment to grassroots soccer and supporting our teams’ growth potential.” NPSL Chairman Kenny Farrell said. “This new venture positions our clubs to further refine the local pathway to the top level of soccer in their area. Players from all backgrounds will have access to a highly visible platform to showcase their talent – particularly in geographic areas where opportunities are limited.  By giving players a legitimate local option to advance, it keeps them engaged with soccer at an affordable cost for families. The U-19 pilot will give NPSL teams the chance to develop their own academies or build relationships with existing programs.”

 

The pilot program will fall under the management of the NPSL and will be affiliated with the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The participating teams include AFC Mobile, New Orleans Jesters, Pensacola FC and Port City FC. 

 

The pilot will run from September through November.  Each team will play a total of six games, three home and three away.    

 

The gameday roster will consist of U-17, U-18, and U-19 players along with up to three overage players. The U-19 pilot program will give AFC Mobile Academy members the opportunity to train with the senior team. 

 

“The NPSL U-19 pilot is a perfect representation of what the teams in our conference want from their academies: a direct relationship with a pathway to our senior team,” AFC Mobile co-owner Sean Landry said. “It’s exciting that the NPSL is providing  new and challenging developmental opportunities for the young players in Mobile, on the Gulf Coast, and, hopefully soon, throughout the country.”

 

AFC Mobile’s U-19 team will be managed by first team head coach Steve Wieczorek. Wieczorek led AFC Mobile to the GCPL Cup playoffs in 2019 and has recently been named the Technical Director of the newly formed AFC Mobile Academy. He is also the current head coach at Spring Hill College. 

 

Those interested in playing for AFC Mobile’s U-19 team should contact the club at information@afcmobile.net

 

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.

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 plays to scoreless draw in Tallahassee

TALLAHASSEE – Missing three starters and with another limited by injury, AFC Mobile kept a clean sheet on the road for the second time this season on Saturday, playing Tallahassee S.C to a 0-0 draw in the Floridian capital. The draw results in a three-way tie on points atop the Gulf Coast Premier League’s Eastern Conference, with the Gulf Coast Rangers holding the head-to head-tiebreakers against the Azaleas and the Battle Lions. 

“We’ve come here with a plan. The plan was to make sure we didn’t concede today. We’ve reached that task,” said AFC Mobile goalkeeper Dominic Nascimben. “And, at minimum, coach Steve [Wieczorek] gave us the task of making sure we had at least a tie. So we’ve hit both tasks.”

AFC Mobile made its longest road trip of the season without defender Andrew Rhoda, midfielder Arad Lev-Ari and leading goalscorer Iba Ndaw, all of whom were resting with minor injuries. Those absences led to a first-team debut for defender Salia Carr and the return of long-time Mobilian Clairy Kengeye. Midfielder and frequent captain Tilman Schober, nursing a knock as well, started the match on the bench for the first time this season.

The game opened with few chances for either side. Tallahassee’s first big chance came in the 19th minute after a Mobile giveaway. However, Nascimben came up with the first of several big saves in the game. Tallahassee nearly took the lead in the 34th minute, but its shot bounced off the far post, resulting in a scramble in the box, ultimately cleared by the Mobile defense. 

The teams entered halftime deadlocked at 0-0. Mobile’s first chance of the second half came in the 50th minute after Tilman Schober played a ball to Chisom Ogbonna, whose shot sailed over the crossbar. The home team pinned the Azaleas back early on in the second half, dominating possession. However, near the 60th minute mark, Mobile was able to shift the play into their attacking third. The Azaleas were awarded a free kick in the 65th minute. Mikey Conneh stepped up to take the kick, but his shot was rocketed into the hands of Tallahassee’s keeper. 

In the 70th minute, Tallahassee was given a free kick of their own. Their shot was tipped just over the bar by Nascimben. Mobile cleared the ensuing corner and then the subsequent throw-in. 

Mobile’s best chance of the match came in the 82nd minute when Clairy Kengeye’s powerful, low-rolling effort was collected by the Tallahassee keeper. The Azaleas would have one last in chance in the 93rd minute when Erik Aispuro’s shot was sent out for a corner that was easily handled by the Battle Lions. Shortly after, the full-time whistle blew with the match ending in a 0-0 draw. 

“I think the boys played their socks off today. They’re happy with the result. They put the effort in today…and we just kept grinding it out and got the result. I can’t fault anyone today. All the boys are solid in the back. So I’m really proud of the lads in front of me.” Nascimben said. 

Next up for the Azaleas is a home match against Hattiesburg FC on Saturday, June 22nd. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets are $10 and kids 12 and under are admitted for free. 

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.