GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — AFC Ann Arbor’s Jordan Montoya was closing in on the net, sprinting ahead of defenders in the closing minutes of extra time past the 90th minute.
His thoughts? To score and put away a game against Grand Rapids FC in a marquee matchup of the Great Lakes Conference Division standings in the National Premier Soccer League.
Montoya kept his eyes up, peering towards the right corner of his offensive zone. His teammate Andres Chalbaud controlled the ball deep in the zone before sending a cross pass towards the net. GRFC goalkeeper Joe White was forced to defend Chalbaud and left the net wide open.
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Montoya slid to the ground as he kicked it into the back of the net. At that moment, he and his team began to celebrate. Why?
They realized that had just passed the boys in blue in the standings. With the 2-0 victory, AFC Ann Arbor (7-1-3, 24 points) jumped to the second place of the division, leaving GRFC (7-3-1, 22 points) in the third slot.
Looking out at the field with his hands on his knees, Montoya was asked about what it meant to take down GRFC on the road at Houseman Field. With sweat dripping off his chin, Montoya gave a smile.
“This had a lot to do with pride,” Montoya said. “It’s who we stand for in AFC and being able to beat them in their home turf means a lot.”
On June 2, GRFC defeated AFC Ann Arbor 2-0 on the road. However, with where the standings currently sit heading into the closing portion of the 2019 campaign, this win meant a lot to Sunday’s winners.
AFC Ann Arbor is now in second place of the division with a current hold on a playoff spot.
For GRFC, Friday’s game with division leader Detroit City FC now is almost essential for a playoff spot, said GRFC head coach Lewis Robinson.
“It’s basically the season,” Robinson said. “If we win, we probably make the playoffs. If we lose, we probably don’t. It’s set up a really big one for Friday.”
The only other goal scored in the game came in just the second minute of the contest. Robinson said that made it hard for his team to refocus.
“It was an embarrassing goal,” Robinson said. “Our team is built on being defensively solid and we weren’t. You can’t come out that slow, but it’s no excuse. It took us until the second half to perform like we could perform and even then, it wasn’t enough.”
Robinson added, “you have to put the ball to the back of the net, that’s what the game is about isn’t it?”
GRFC never did that in the 90 minutes from start to finish. AFC Ann Arbor did twice, and it happened on the complete opposite ends of time in the game.
Regardless, Friday’s contest against Detroit City FC at 7:30 p.m. in Keyworth Stadium is monumental to how far the boys in blue will go in 2019.
Meanwhile, Montoya and AFC Ann Arbor get to enjoy a win that was much needed.
“It’s probably the most important game we have played this season,” Montoya said. “We have had a couple of rough patches, but we are pushing through it. I think this definitely boosts our confidence moving forward.”