Tag: Nate Nicholas

AFC Mobile rolls in 11-0 rout of Real United FC

MOSS POINT, Miss. – AFC Mobile snapped a three-match losing streak with a dominant 11-0 victory over Real United FC Riverhawks on Saturday night in Moss Point. Goalkeepers Barou Ndaw and Patrick Davis kept AFC Mobile’s first-ever clean sheet in a joint effort, while the netminder’s brother Iba Ndaw led the Azaleas in scoring with four goals. Abdal Almutairi applied consistent pressure on the Riverhawks defense and scored a hat trick, including his first goal for the club. This match saw three AFC Mobile United players make their first team debut: Davis, Matthew Duffey, and Justin Mallis, brother of AFC Mobile regular Markos Mallis.

“We were just the better team tonight and it showed in the scoreline,” AFC Mobile coach Nate Nicholas said. “But just to be blatantly honest, I’m not going to really be able to take a whole lot from that game and use it for next week. With a game that high-scoring, it kind of gets a little bit unrealistic.”

Mobile controlled the early stages of the game. The Azaleas opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Martin Fiemawhle sent a ball across the face of goal that was slotted home by Iba Ndaw. Real United had a short spell of possession after the opening goal, but never truly threatened Barou Ndaw in goal. The Azaleas nearly doubled their tally after Dawson Jellenc initiated a string of build-up passes in the midfield. The ball returned to Jellenc, whose shot went just wide of the goal. AFC Mobile scored again in the 35th minute after Matt Merrill played a long ball from the midfield to Fiemawhle who chipped the keeper to give the Azaleas a 2-0 lead. In the 40th minute, Almutairi opened his scoring account by chipping the keeper and giving the Azaleas a 3-0 lead. Two minutes later, Merrill played another through ball from midfield and Almutairi sent a high arching shot in the air, chipping the keeper for a second time. The Azaleas took a 4-0 lead into halftime.

“They just needed high pressure on the defense,” Almutairi said. “I just did what the coach asked me to and I pressed high on them.”

Mobile found the back of the net early in the second half. In the 47th minute, Iba Ndaw took a close range shot that spilled across the goalline after it was fumbled by the Riverhawks keeper. Two minutes later, Ira Bowens played a ball for Almutairi down the right wing. Almutairi completed his hat trick after sending in another arching shot from a tight angle, giving the Azaleas a 6-0 lead. In the 53rd minute, Almutairi played a ball into the box and Matt Merrill scored from point blank range, giving the Azaleas a 7-0 lead. The away team continued to dominate the second half. Iba Ndaw completed his hat trick in the 80th minute after Matthew Duffey played him in from the top of the box. In the 87th minute, Duffey went on to score a goal of his own in his AFC Mobile debut off an assist from Brantton Greene.

Off the restart from Duffey’s goal, Iba Ndaw played in Tomas Lopez who slotted home an easy effort to bring the score to 10-0.  In the 91st minute, Iba Ndaw scored one more goal unassisted after dribbling past the Riverhawks’ defense and goalkeeper, bringing the final score to 11-0.

This Saturday, the Azaleas return to the Lip to take on Port City FC in the second leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup. Although this rivalry is only two years old, it has produced some of the closest matches and most memorable moments in either club’s history, and has been labeled the “realest rivalry in American soccer” by media outlets.

“Last time they did a real good job of getting one of our better players red-carded and suspended,” Nicholas said. “It’s a grudge match. I don’t care if one team is in the playoffs and one team is not. It was the same way last year and both games were very intense, very in your face, go-at-it soccer and I don’t expect it to be any different. I expect it to be pretty hardcore.”

Kickoff for that game is at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 14th 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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Mobile Falls 3-1 In First Leg of the Forgotten Coast Cup

Another wild chapter of the Forgotten Coast Cup was written on Wednesday night when AFC Mobile travel to Herbert Wilson Stadium in Gulfport, Mississippi to take on the rebranded Port City FC (formerly Biloxi City FC.) This match was originally scheduled to take place on Memorial Day weekend, but it was postponed due to the possibility of inclement weather. The Azaleas held a 1-0 lead for the majority of the game before ultimately falling to the Sounders 3-1.

The Azaleas were coming into the game after an incredible 4-3 comeback victory over Pensacola FC and were looking to claim one of two games in hand over the rest of their Eastern Conference opponents. 

Mobile burst out of the gate, dominating the early stages of the match. The Azaleas first chance came after Brantton “Sunshine” Greene charged his way through the pitch and passed the ball to Clairy Kengeye. Kengeye found Chisom Ogbonna who sent his shot wide. The Sounders retaliated minutes later but Mobile’s keeper easily saved Ethan Loftin’s shot. The Azaleas had another chance in the 15th minute when Kengeye boomed down the right wing and found a charging Chisom Ogbonna, who was flagged offside. 

However, it wouldn’t be long before Ogbonna found the score sheet. In the 20th minute Sherman Winchester sent the ball to Martin Fiemawhle who pulled the ball back and sent it across the box to Ogbonna who fired home the opening goal against Port City keeper Grant Adam. 

The Sounders attacked the Mobile defense for the next fifteen minutes. They thought they had their equalizer in the 35th minute after Hall’s shot dribbled its way into the back of the net after multiple deflections in the box. However, the goal was ruled offside and Mobile kept their 1-0 lead as both teams headed into the half. 

“To be honest with you from what I understand, this past weekend they rested several of their starters. We basically had the same group going and I think in the second half their energy raised up where we kind of got tired,” AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas said. “We weren’t playing too terribly but we were absorbing a lot of pressure and they were playing very direct…and I think we got tired from constantly chasing and them hitting long balls.” 

Port City started the second half as the stronger side, but the first clearcut chance of the half came when Kengeye and Fiemawhle beautifully worked the ball back and forth between the two of them nearly resulting in a Kengeye shot. Port City nearly pulled a goal back when Loftin juked his way through the box and was brought down. The home fans clamored for a penalty, but it was not given.

In the 63rd minute, Port City forward Michael Cooper was played in behind the Mobile defense by Jordan Hall, but Hall’s shot was saved by Gibson. 

Port City equalized in the 72nd minute after Hall worked his way into the box and smashed a shot home past Gibson. In true Forgotten Coast Cup fashion, controversy erupted after Port City defender Joe Elliot dropped his shorts and “mooned” the Causeway Rebellion moments after the equalizing goal. 

 The Sounders took the lead in the 86th minute after Steven Gallagher found Austin Miller who brought the ball down Cavan Doherty who slotted it home. 

Late in the game, Mobile was awarded a free kick. While setting up for the kick, both teams participated in a pushing match which came to a head when Ogbonna shoved a Port City player in the neck.  Ogbonna was shown a straight red for violent conduct and will be suspended for at least one match. 

“Once again, I feel like it’s a weekly thing talking about referees and decisions and how they play in the league.  I don’t know if it was necessarily the wrong call; like I said I couldn’t see it very well, but obviously at that point the game had gotten out of hand again so it’s just one of those things, something was bound to happen. We got caught with some retaliation and we ended up with the red card. 

The Azaleas would nearly equalize late into stoppage time. Keeper Elijah Gibson ran up to join the Mobile attack in the box. Fiemawhle sent a free-kick towards goal and Mobile players got a touch on the ball but it bounced around in the box, ultimately not being able to find the back of the net. The Sounders got out on the break and Joao Victor slotted the ball home into the empty net to seal a 3-1 win for Port City.

The Azaleas will return to The Lip this Saturday night to face GCPL cross-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.

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.

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.

 

Nineteen Players Selected to Return To Invitational Tryout

Nearly 50 players came out to Herndon (Sage) Park in Mobile on December 9th to participate in AFC Mobile’s Open Tryout for the 2018 GCPL season. Nineteen of those players have been invited back by the coaching staff to participate in an Invitational Tryout.

  • Erik Aispuro
  • Suleiman Carr
  • Roman Causse
  • Chris Cory
  • Cam Cranton
  • Drew Dixon
  • Abraham Estaba
  • Brantton Greene
  • Desmond Ibie
  • Jean Paul Irakiza
  • Kevin Jackson
  • Nam Le
  • Tomas Lopez
  • Dillon Lowe
  • Jesse McCarty
  • Alejandro Ojeda
  • Alec Peacock
  • Laurentiu Pirvu
  • Carlos Varas

These players will join other invited player to compete for a spot on AFC Mobile’s 2018 roster.

 

The Causeway Rebellion cheers on the team.

AFC Mobile Breaks 1,000 in Attendance, Falls 2-1 to CD Motagua of NOLA

AFC Mobile once again broke the Gulf Coast Premier League attendance record as 1,040 fans were on hand at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex to see the home team fall 2-1 to CD Motagua of New Orleans.

“That’s an amazing feat. We never even imagined to have a hundred… to get a thousand today, that says a lot about what the team is to the city and what we bring to the table. We can only improve from here,” said AFC Mobile co-captain Martin Fiemawhle.

AFC Mobile nearly opened the scoring six minutes into the match when Chisom Ogbonna broke away on a counter attack and was brought down by a Motagua defender.

Mobile’s best early chance came in the 14th minute when Ogbonna danced his way down the lefthand side of the box, bringing Motagua’s goalkeeper to his knees. Before reaching the touchline, he sent the ball back to Clairy Kengeye in the center of the box. Kengeye took a shot at an open goal, but it was deflected by Motagua defender Anthony Pieters.

Motagua’s Reese Wilson took a shot in the 27th minute that was easily collected by goalkeeper Barou Ndaw, who made his first start of the season for AFC Mobile.

The away team was awarded a free kick just outside the box in the 30th. Motagua sent the ball into the box and, after a late run and a little scramble in front of the goal, Pieters shot bounced its way into the net, but the apparent goal was called back for offside. After the no-goal, Motagua’s Steven Morris was promptly shown a straight red card for dissent.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson was on hand to perform the pregame coin toss. (Photo: Seth Laubinger)

AFC Mobile tried to capitalize quickly on the one-man advantage. Ogbonna fired in a shot from the left side of the box that was saved by the Motagua keeper.

Despite being down a man, Motagua took the lead in the 42nd minute when Wilson scored a screamer from the righthand side.

“What’s crazy is we always have a few chances to score, to get on the board and, whether it’s a post or a bad hit or a good save, we don’t quite connect on that and then we give up one chance and we’re down,” said AFC Mobile head coach Nate Nicholas. “It makes it real difficult when the other team’s strike rate is one-for-one and ours is zero-for-five.”  

Ogbonna got another chance to equalize before halftime. Forward Brian Singler laid the ball off for him at the top of the box, but his shot was easily saved.

Motagua took a 2-0 lead in the 70th minute after Brandon Chagnard finished a shot from the middle of the box. Four minutes later, Mobile cut the lead in half after Ogbonna got on the end of a give away from a Motagua defender. Ogbonna fired home a close range shot from a tight angle, sending the crowd of over 1,000 into a frenzy.

Mobile nearly leveled the game after a bit of fancy footwork from Kengeye, but his first effort was saved and a rebound were both saved.

Mobile’s last chance to equalize came in the 94th minute when goalkeeper Ndaw sent a free kick into the box that nobody could capitalize on. The whistle blew, and the game finished 2-1 in favor of CD Motagua New Orleans.

AFC Mobile will travel to Biloxi next week to take on Biloxi City FC in the final match of the 2017 Gulf Coast Premier League season. The club is organizing a bus trip for fans. Tickets are $30 which includes a spot on the bus and a ticket to the match. Spaces are limited, so buy your ticket today!  

Nate Nicholas

Meet AFC Mobile’s head coach Nate Nicholas

From the first kick of practice, Nate Nicholas is in motion. Arms folded, pacing, towering over most of his new AFC Mobile squad, bellowing over the sound of his drills. “Faster,” he says. “Always faster, always more pressure, always more shots.”

“My favorite team is Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp likes to play the way I like to play,” Nicholas said. “He’s a little more committed to it than I am, but I like to high press. I like high energy. I like everything to be fast. I like quick passing like Pep Guardiola, but I don’t like passing for passing’s sake. I want to get forward as quickly as possible, press the ball as quickly as possible, keep it on their side as much as possible. I like to keep the ball and for it to look pretty, but most of all, I like to win.”

Nicholas’s high-speed style goes all the way back to his days as a well-recruited club player. He was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but moved all over the country to follow his father’s work in the oil fields before settling in Slidell, Louisiana for his high school years. There, he garnered enough attention to draw scholarship offers from William Carey, Belhaven, and The University of Mobile, among others.

“If I had stayed in Hattiesburg, I probably wouldn’t have reached the level I did, but I moved to Texas and California, which are hotbeds for soccer,” Nicholas said. “I played everything growing up. Every season it was… I wanted to be Major League in whatever that was, but I was always naturally gifted toward soccer. I always excelled more in that. Soccer was just always the one that I was the best at.”

As a player, Nicholas brought his father’s oil-field work ethic to bear on his opponents. His natural talent was augmented by his love of physical play, his speed, and his six-foot-plus stature. His desire earned him four years of play at the University of Mobile, where he became a crucial part of the 2002 national championship-winning Rams team.

While at the University of Mobile, Nicholas played under coach Peter Fuller, who would go on to oversee the academy of the Philadelphia Union in MLS, where he also served as a first-team assistant. Fuller’s tutelage shaped his nascent coaching career, when Nicholas took a job at the Alabama School of Math and Science during his junior season with the Rams.

“That was a fun one,” Nicholas said. “It was an interesting group of kids. You never expect to go to a soccer game and hear about flux capacitors and all kinds of crazy science and math stuff.”

Nicholas stayed at ASMS for two seasons before accepting an assistant coach position at UMS-Wright in Mobile, motivated by a desire to stay in his adopted home town. There, his career nearly ran into a dead-end. Desperate to find a head coaching job, he left Old Shell Road for the head coaching job at Baldwin County High School.

“That was one rough, miserable year in my life,” Nicholas said. “They were good kids, but it was an interesting experience in my life. It was a very unique situation. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, and I was still young, so leading a program at a school like that, that’s a little bit country, maybe not soccer oriented, was different for me because everywhere I’d been before was fairly soccer-minded.”

His team won just two games. He left after just one season to return to UMS-Wright as the head coach. Ignoring his own doubts about his career, he took over a team newly promoted to the 5A division, into a crowded area dominated by arch-rival St. Paul’s Episcopal, a high school sports juggernaut. In that first season, his team won both fixtures against the Saints en route to a state runner-up finish, dispelling any doubts the burgeoning star might have had about his career.

For the next three years, Nicholas’s team was ranked No. 1 in the state. He won back-to-back state titles, took down 6A powerhouses, and established UMS as one of the top teams in the Southeast. After the 2012 season, Nicholas traveled down Old Shell Road for a new challenge as head coach of the McGill-Toolen Catholic High School boys, who he has since led to a state runner-up finish.

“The crazy thing is, I was the same coach for a 2-15 team as I was for a state runner-up team,” Nicholas said. “It just shows how important players are to a coach. Without good quality players, the best coach is nothing. Even a bad coach can look good with quality players.”

As a coach, Nicholas has won more than 150 games at the high school level, driven by his undying competitive instinct. But his career, including his decision to become the first coach in AFC Mobile’s history, is driven by a deeper desire–to teach his players and pass that competitiveness and resolve on to his teams.

“There’s nothing more annoying to me than seeing a coach that’s in it for himself,” Nicholas said. “That’s very against what I am. I enjoy accolades and winning, and I would be a fool to say I don’t, but I don’t want it to be about me. I want it to be about the team and our goals, not my goals. If I preach to my team that the team’s goals will lead to your individual goals, and I don’t believe that myself, then I’m a hypocrite and I don’t want to do that. I want to practice what I preach.”

His goals for AFC Mobile are simple.

“Win. Win every game,” he said. “I want everybody to be like ‘Oh crap, Mobile’s here, and they’re going to win it, as long as they’re in it.”