Madison’s Carlos McCrary, who spent time with the University of North Carolina and Creighton University, scored both of Madison’s goals. He was aggressive moving forward and caused problems for the unlucky AFC Cleveland Royals.
Cleveland had a slew of opportunities throughout the physical match, but only Strongsville native and Ohio State midfielder Michael Matlock scored a goal for AFC Cleveland. The Royals had shots bounce off the posts and crossbar, go wide right and left.
Lady Luck wasn’t a Cleveland fan Sunday afternoon, but the home team fought to the very last moment with the outcome not decided until the final whistle. The Madison 56ers now advance to the national championship tournament in San Diego.
It was a banner year for AFC Cleveland, who finished their first NPSL season with a flourish. They collected the Rust Belt Trophy and the Great Lakes Conference Championship during a season with great crowds, a large supporters’ group in the 6th City Syndicate, and many community-oriented activities.
Hoggarth admitted that losing the match was “a tough pill to swallow.” But the progress made by this team has been simply amazing.
“I think it is really good for the area,” AFC Cleveland and University of Akron striker Tommy Schmitt commented. “We sparked the fans’ interest. We showed that Cleveland can be successful at soccer.”