Tag: Spring Hill College

Steve Wieczorek Joins AFC Mobile as Head Coach

Steve Wieczorek, current head coach of the Gulf South Champion Spring Hill College men’s soccer team, has been named the second head coach in AFC Mobile history, effective immediately. Wieczorek joins AFC Mobile after leading Spring Hill to its first-ever NCAA Division II Tournament appearance and Gulf South Championship.

“I am truly honored by the opportunity to lead AFC Mobile. I am excited to become part of such an ambitious club with an amazing and loyal fan base.” Wieczorek said. “I want to say thank you to the board for trusting me with this appointment, and I am fully committed to giving our supporters and the city of Mobile a team that will push for the (Gulf Coast Premier League) title as well as play a dynamic and entertaining brand of soccer.”

Wieczorek’s 15-year coaching career includes stops at some of college soccer’s most notable programs. He began his coaching career as a goalkeeper coach at his alma mater Fairfield University. Following one season in that role, Wieczorek had stints as an assistant at the University of Bridgeport, Siena College, Duquesne University and Oregon State University before eventually becoming the head coach of Spring Hill in 2015. At Duquesne, Wieczorek helped the program secure its first NCAA Tournament win while finishing the season nationally ranked in the top ten in goals and top five in assists.

Since joining Spring Hill College, Wieczorek set the school record for overall and conference wins with 17 and 11 wins respectively. He also led Spring Hill to its first-ever United Soccer Coaches national ranking, finishing at 21st in the final poll of the 2018 season.

“We couldn’t be more excited to make Steve the leader of our club,” said Sean Landry, board member, and CFO. “During our coaching search, Steve showed clear commitment to both short-term and long-term growth of the team and the game in Mobile, and a competitive ambition that matches our own. His qualifications in just a few short years at Spring Hill are unmatched, and we’re confident in his ability to bring silverware home to the best soccer fans on the Gulf Coast in Sweet Lunacy’s County Seat.”

Wieczorek is in the process of finalizing his coaching staff and preparing a roster for the 2019 Gulf Coast Premier League season. An announcement regarding open tryouts will be made in the coming weeks.

AFC Mobile is Mobile’s minor league soccer team, competing in the Gulf Coast Premier League. The 2019 season begins in May and runs through July. All home games will be played at the Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb Complex – “The Lip.”  Tickets begin at just $5, and children 12 and under are free with adult admission. A full schedule and information about season tickets will be available soon. Select merchandise is available now at afcmobile.net and The Trading Post at 7985 Tanner Williams Road.  Follow AFC Mobile on all your favorite social media platforms to keep up-to-date on additional information about the 2019 season!

 

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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 adds Spring Hill College midfielder Ibrahima Ndaw

MOBILE- AFC Mobile has added Spring Hill College midfielder/forward Ibrahima Ndaw to its roster for the 2018 Gulf Coast Premier League Season.

Ndaw, whose brother was a goalkeeper for AFC Mobile last year, is a former prep standout at St. Paul’s Episcopal High School in Mobile. Ndaw led the St. Paul’s Episcopal Boys Soccer Team to the 2012 Class 5A State Semifinals during his junior year. As a senior at St. Paul’s, he was named to the Mobile Press-Register’s All Region Team.

Following high school, Ndaw stayed local by enrolling at Spring Hill College. In 2017, the Badgers achieved their best ever record in men’s soccer, finishing the year with 12 wins and only 3 losses. For his 8 goals and 8 assists, Ndaw was named to the 2017 United Soccer Coaches NAIA Men’s All-South Region Team.

This season will not be Ndaw’s Gulf Coast Premier League debut, as for the past two years he played in the GCPL for Biloxi City FC. AFC Mobile is proud to bring him home for the 2018 GCPL season.

“I’m excited to be a part of AFC Mobile. Last year you could feel the energy of Mobile when we came to play them. I can’t wait for the new season to start and to play in front of the many fans we have,” Ndaw stated.

AFC Mobile is Mobile’s minor league soccer team, competing in the Gulf Coast Premier League. Our season begins in May and runs through July. All home games will be played at the Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb Complex – “The Lip.”  Tickets begin at just $5, and children 12 and under are free with adult admission. A full schedule and information about season tickets will be available soon. Select merchandise is available now at afcmobile.net.  Follow AFC Mobile on all your favorite social media platforms to keep up-to-date on additional information about the 2018 season.

Week of 10/1: Soccer events in the Mobile area

10/2


Spring Hill College vs. Florida Southern College (Women’s)
The Cage, Mobile
12:00 PM

10/5


University of Mobile vs. Faulkner University (Women’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
2:00 PM

 
University of Mobile vs. Faulkner University (Men’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
3:30 PM


Spring Hill College vs. Lee University (Men’s)
Library Field, Mobile
6:00 PM

10/6


Spring Hill College vs. University of Alabama – Huntsville (Women’s)
Library Field, Mobile
3:30 PM

American Outlaws Watch Party: United States Men’s National Team vs. Panama Men’s National Team
O’Daly’s Irish Pub

564 Dauphin Street, Mobile
Kickoff at 6:30 PM

10/7


English Premier League Soccer Saturday’s at O’Daly’s Irish Pub (Watch Party)
564 Dauphin Street, Mobile
Doors Open at 6:30 AM

University of Mobile vs. Dalton State College (Women’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
1:30 PM


University of Mobile vs. Dalton State College (Men’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
4:00 PM

Week of 9/24: Soccer events in the Mobile area

9/24


University of South Alabama vs. Georgia State (Women’s)
The Cage, Mobile
1:00 PM


Spring Hill College vs. Mississippi College (Men’s)
Library Field, Mobile
3:30 PM

9/26


University of Mobile vs. Concordia College (Men’s)
The Jungle, Mobile
6:30 PM

9/28


University of Mobile vs. University of West Florida (Men’s)
University of West Florida, Pensacola, FL
6:00 PM

9/30


English Premier League Soccer Saturday’s at O’Daly’s Irish Pub (Watch Party)
564 Dauphin Street, Mobile
Doors Open at 6:30 AM

The Mobile Revelers: Mobile’s Original Minor League Soccer Team

There’s no doubt that Mobile is a soccer town. The city is home to high quality men’s and women’s college soccer programs, a number of competitive local high school teams, quality youth clubs, and a burgeoning minor league team. However, AFC Mobile is not the first team to represent the city of Mobile. From 1995 to 1997, between the 1994 World Cup in the United States and the dawn of Major League Soccer, the Mobile Revelers staked a claim as one of the south’s best clubs.

revelers

The team was the brainchild of former University of South Alabama men’s coach Roy Patton. Patton approached local soccer enthusiasts Steve Clements and Ken Kvalheim to form a new professional soccer team to play in the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues (USISL) Professional League, a multi-regional league sanctioned as a Division III Professional League by the U.S. Soccer Federation. The USISL was a predecessor to the modern day United Soccer League (USL) and Premier Development League (PDL). 

“At the time, the South Alabama [NCAA] program was just on fire and of course Mobile College [NAIA] had a really great program as well. Pretty much all our players came from those two schools,” Clements said. Patton’s goal was to give his college players and other local players the opportunity to continue playing soccer at a high level.  “We hated the fact that they graduated and left us,” Clements said. “That was one of Roy’s primary goals was to give these players an opportunity to continue playing soccer at a level that they might be seen in the bigger leagues.”

The Revelers roster, much like the roster of the South Alabama team at the time, was made up of players from across the globe. “We were not that international, compared to my 1995 season at South [Alabama], but we came from South Africa, England, Scotland, Denmark, Trinidad, and the US,” said former Mobile Reveler left back Søren Jørgensen.

Jørgensen was from Copenhagen, Denmark and earned a scholarship to play for South Alabama. Unfortunately, his high school credits did not properly transfer to the American system and he was unable to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. But he had fallen in love with the Mobile soccer community, and he decided to stay in Mobile and play for the Revelers.

Mobile Reveler left back Søren Jørgensen

Jørgensen said that even though the core of Revelers players graduated from South Alabama in 1994 or ’95, it wasn’t hard to break into the group. “It was easy to enter the group,” Jørgensen said. “As long as you can play some good soccer and drink a beer afterwards.”

Patton originally intended for the team to play its matches at South Alabama. He would coach the team at home and Tom Bierster, his assistant coach, would coach the team on the road. That plan never came to fruition, as behind-the-scenes politics at South Alabama could not be worked out.  “There were issues… I don’t really know exactly everything on that level, but at one point, Joe Gottfried went to Roy and said, ‘look, you can’t play at South… I’m getting too much pressure and if you coach this team, you may not have a job with the college,'” Bierster said.

Ultimately, Bierster took the reigns as the head coach of the Revelers heading into their inaugural season. Soon after, Patton left South Alabama to take the head job at the University of Vermont. He would eventually return to the Port City as the head coach of the University of Mobile.

Despite the talent in the city, not everyone in Mobile embraced soccer. This became apparent during the Revelers search for a home field.  “Some people didn’t understand it at all,” Kvalheim said. “I remember we were looking to do some practice, or some tryouts on the field – and I’ll never forget – a football coach told us that the soccer players would damage his field.”

Ironically, the Revelers finally found a home outside of Mobile at the Fairhope Municipal Soccer Complex, a venue that quickly gained a reputation as one of the nicest facilities in the USISL.  “My second season, everyone wanted to come to Fairhope because they heard how beautiful the field was, and it was,” Bierster said.  

revelers
Mobile Revelers Inaugural Game Roster Sheet

With a stadium deal in place and a roster full of players ready to play, the only thing the club was missing was a moniker. “We wanted to make something that was synonymous to who we are,” Kvalheim said. “We were the first sports team to say ‘we need to capitalize on what makes us unique to the region, what makes us unique to being Mobile,’ and ‘Revelers’ just worked out.”

The Revelers finished their inaugural season in second place in the Southeast Division and were eliminated from the playoffs in the Divisional Semifinal round.  “We got a little bit known out there because our first season we were better than .500 and we got people wanting to come play for us,” Bierster said.  One of the players that Mobile added was Bill Elliott. Elliott is currently the head coach at the University of West Florida and the NPSL’s Chattanooga FC. Elliott said that the core of South Alabama and University of Mobile players were crucial to building the team’s success in the first year.  “All those guys knew each other really well…I think even when they were in college in the offseason they played together, you know, pick up games,” Elliott said. “By the time I joined they had a very good core and I was fortunate enough to be able to work my way into that and become a part of it and really enjoy my time playing there.”

Elliott took the University of West Florida job in 1995 and has been there ever since. He has lead the Argonauts to nine conference championships. He took the managerial position at Chattanooga FC in 2011 and has been the runner-up in three of the last five NPSL National Championships. Elliott thinks the biggest change in the American lower league landscape is the amount of professionalism shown from the clubs at this level.

“In those days, everything in the league was very ‘Bull Durham-ish.’ I think now there’s a lot more professionalism in those leagues… I think there was a lot more gimmicks and minor league baseball marketing tricks to kinda get people out,” Elliott said.  Mobile wasn’t above using wild promotions to draw fans out to the stadium. The Revelers were able to draw 2000 fans to a match by bringing the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in town to perform a halftime show.

Revelers
Mobile Revelers with Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders

Bierster said that Mobile’s greatest game came against one of the USISL’s powerhouses, the Minnesota Thunder. The Thunder had won four consecutive league championships and boasted the likes of future MLS star, Bundesliga regular, and U.S international Tony Sanneh as well as current Minnesota United sporting director Manny Lagos and his brother Gerard.

The Thunder were playing in New Orleans on a Friday night before making the trip to Fairhope on Saturday. Bierster drove to the match in New Orleans and devised a game plan that took the Thunder to the wire. Instead of going at the Thunder head-to-head, Bierster told the Revelers to absorb pressure from the Thunder attack before trying to hit them on the counter. The Thunder found themselves shell-shocked. The Revelers took the game to double-overtime and were mere seconds from a shootout when Tony Sanneh turned a Revs’ defender, launched a shot with his left foot, and won the game 1-0 with five seconds left.  News of the Revelers’ unexpected success against the Thunder spread quickly. Days after the last-second loss, Bierster received a phone call from Bob Gansler, former manager of the US Men’s National Team during the 1990 World Cup in Italy and the head coach of the Milwaukee Rampage at the time, asking Bierster how his Revelers took the Thunder to double-overtime.

The Revelers returned to the playoffs in the 1996 season, but failed to move beyond the Conference Semifinals. Bierster left the team following the 1996 season. The Revelers did not qualify for the playoffs in 1997, which turned out to be their final season.

“The biggest problem with professional sports from our standpoint back then was that we were required by the league, and by conscience frankly, to provide these kids with workers comp insurance and the cost of it became absolutely oppressive to say the least,” Clements said. “With that in mind, with the travel that was involved, we simply couldn’t generate enough money between ticket sales and sponsorships to make it viable.”

The Revelers only lasted for three years in the Mobile area, but their impact on the game in the area can be felt today.  “I really believe that what we did, we created an opportunity to expose a lot of people to a sport that they didn’t know very much about,” Kvalheim said.

AFC Mobile will be paying tribute to the city’s original minor league soccer team by holding Mobile Revelers Night this Saturday, July 1st. Kickoff against Gaffa FC of Jackson, Mississippi is at 7:00 p.m. All tickets are only $5, and kids 12 and under are admitted free. AFC Mobile is also auctioning off an original limited edition Mobile Revelers Inaugural Season Commemorative Poster.  All auction proceeds will be donated to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. Click here to participate in the auction. Come out and honor Mobile’s soccer history while supporting your local grassroots soccer team!