July 28, 2017: Duluth FC

July 28, 2017
NPSL Midwest Region Semi-Final
Keyworth Stadium, Hamtramck, MI

Detroit City FC 5, Duluth FC 2
Detroit  Tyrone Mondi (Shawn Lawson) 18′
Duluth  Kyle Farrar 25′
Duluth  Ben Phillips 27′
Detroit Tyrone Mondi 32′
Detroit Dave Edwardson (Tyrone Mondi) 35′
Detroit Tyrone Mondi 45′
Detroit Omar Sinclair 69′

Attendance: 6,989

After City’s victory over Dakota Fusion FC, and Dayton’s victory of Erie, the semi-finals were paired based on these seedings:

1.  AFC Ann Arbor
2.  Duluth FC
4.  Detroit City FC
6.  Dayton Dynamo.

The four teams put in bids to host the Friday semi-finals and Saturday final.  I had heard that at the end of the bidding process, Detroit and Ann Arbor were tied in votes (with Detroit and Dayton selecting Detroit; Duluth & Ann Arbor selecting Ann Arbor).  I have no idea how the final decision was made, but we won the opportunity to host this playoff showcase.

Three days before the match, our community was shook by the near-fatal accident of one of our own.  Amanda , a capo, was struck by a truck as she was riding her bike to work.  She underwent several hours of surgeries, as we were collectively holding our breath and sending prayers and positive thoughts her way.


Who is Duluth FC?

2017 was the team’s first season in the NPSL, playing previously in the Duluth Amateur Soccer League (2015) and American Premier League (2016).  Owned by an Orthodox Christian priest, foul language is discouraged at their matches.  Good gracious, were they in for a cultural clash.

Duluth FC finished at the top of the Northern Division of the Midwest Region with eight wins, a couple losses, and four draws.  They scored 42 goals while conceding only 18.  Kyle Farrar was fourth in the NPSL in scoring, with 13 goals in 12 matches.

The first match was AFC Ann Arbor vs Dayton Dynamo.

I found a camera shop in Ann Arbor that sold and developed 35mm film.  I decided to see if the old Nikon N70 was worth bringing out of retirement by shooting a roll here.

The last two photos were from the Sony digital.  After I ran out of film, this took place and had to shoot it.  The Dayton player said some unkind things to the ref about a non-call.  If Duluth FC scouts were in the stands, this player was probably eliminated as a prospect from their no-foul-language team.

In the second minute of stoppage time, with the scoreless match looking like overtime, Ann Arbor’s James Vaughan converted a free kick from just outside the box, to place AFC Ann Arbor in the Midwest Region finals.

In the 18th minute, Shawn Lawson from midfield sent a ball out to the left wing.  Tyrone Mondi out-hustled two Duluth defenders , and put City in the lead.

Duluth was not here by chance.  In the 25th minute, Kyle Farrar, the fourth leading scorer in the NPSL, leveled the match.  With the let down, Duluth came down the pitch two minutes later, and Ben Phillips popped one behind Pina, to shift the lead.

Not about to roll over, City kept on working.  In the 32nd minute, Troy Watson received the ball on the right wing, and crossed it into the box.  Cyrus Saydee took a point blank shot at Duluth keeper Tom Greensall, who made the save, but the ball rebounded to Tyrone Mondi who poked it into the back of the net.


Three minutes later, Tyrone Mondi from the corner…


As the half neared its conclusion, City kept on the pressure.  Two Duluth defenders had a miscommunication, resulting in the ball bouncing past them and onto the foot of Tyrone Mondi to complete the first-half hat trick.

In the 49th minute, Tyrone Mondi was hauled down in the box by Duluth’s Gonnie Ben-Tal, causing the ref to point to the spot for a penalty kick.  Ben-Tal took exception, claiming Mondi went down early, which caused a heated discussion among the players on the pitch.  Shawn Lawson stepped up to the penalty spot, but his shot just missed the lower corner of the net.

Duluth wasn’t about to go away, and kept up the pressure, which afforded counter-attacking for City.  It was Tyrone Mondi once more, taken down just outside the box in the 69’th minute, which lead to this Omar Sinclair free kick…


On to the Midwest Region Finals!

Another outstanding performance by the team.


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