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AFC Cleveland Wins Presidential Cup in Hard-Fought Battle

“The Battle for Ohio” took place Friday night between AFC Cleveland and Zanesville Athletic FC at Krenzler Field on the Cleveland State University campus.  The coveted Presidential Cup, the first piece of hardware awarded in the 2013 NPSL season, went to AFC Cleveland in a 3-2 win and a 6-4 score on aggregate.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/

The Royals came into the match leading the Presidential Cup standings thanks to a 3-2 AFC Cleveland victory against Zanesville on May 19th.

A great crowd was on hand for a rollercoaster match where the final result was up in the air until the final whistle.

“It doesn’t matter how we’re playing,” AFC Cleveland head coach Andy Hoggarth stated. “The fans are going to stay behind us.  They trust us that we are doing everything we can to win.”

The first half was one of opportunities for both sides even though Cleveland held an advantage in possession.  It took a full 45 minutes for former Akron striker Tommy Schmitt to score off a looping free kick to put Cleveland up 1-0.

Christian Earnest made it 2-0 in favor of the home team in the 51st off an assist from Schmitt.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/

Zanesville responded with a goal of their own eight minutes later thanks to a strike from Smart Osadolor, who caught Royals keeper Ben Yabrow off his line and was able to sneak one past to keep the visitors in the match at 2-1.

Zanesville’s Anthony Bahadur brought things even at 2-2 in the 82nd minute.

But it was Mount Union forward Tommy Beck, with an assist from Tyler Johnston, who scored seven minutes later to put the Royals ahead for good.  It was an important goal that brought his team a much needed three points and a piece of hardware for the AFC trophy case.

Zanesville did not go down easy as they continued to fight in the final minutes. A red card was shown to ZAFC’s Tim Findall in stoppage time, which put the visitors down to 10 men for the final minutes of the match. To their credit Zanesville continued to attack until the final whistle was blown.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/

“It was definitely a good result,” AFC Cleveland defender Phil Spagnolo commented. “Ben [Yabrow] did great. In stoppage time he saved a wide open 1 on 1 goal.  He had great hands all night, great positioning, good distribution. He did well.”

Neither team has much time to rest as they have yet another match on Sunday.  AFC Cleveland hits the road to face FC Buffalo, while Zanesville heads home to take on FC Sparta Michigan.

Subside Sports Man of the Match: FWD Tommy Schmitt, AFC Cleveland

The Battle for Ohio Begins with a Bang

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/

The Battle for Ohio is usually reserved for the Indians and the Reds or the Browns and the Bengals.  But this weekend the Battle for Ohio was all about the NPSL as AFC Cleveland hit the road to face newcomer Zanesville Athletic FC in a weekend of firsts.

It was the first home match for ZAFC, the first meeting between Zanesville and Cleveland, and the first-ever Presidential Cup match.  What’s the Presidential Cup? The teams’ faithful are excited about this new rivalry series that pits the two Ohio clubs against each other in what looks to be a great derby for years to come.

Cleveland got an early lead in the cup competition, defeating ZAFC 3-2 on Sunday.

“The boys finished well,” AFC Cleveland head coach Andy Hoggarth stated. “We took our goals well.  It was a good win and we are happy with it.”

Both Cleveland and Zanesville started their attacks early, trading chances in the first moments of the match.

Cleveland striker Tom Beck was the first to go on the board, scoring a goal in the 5th minute on a breakaway run.  The Royals would add to that lead in the 31st as Vinny Bell turned an Andre Learned cross into a goal.

Zanesville was awarded a dangerous free kick just outside the box minutes before halftime, but the home side was unable to convert the chance.

The 2-0 lead by Cleveland didn’t last long as Cedric Bruce-Kotey and Smart Osadolor teamed up for a goal in the 49th minute, cutting the visitors’ lead in half.

ZAFC continued to make attempts at the Cleveland goal, including a quick sequence where the ball bounced off multiple players before keeper Ben Yabrow was able to fall on it.

But everything changed in the 68th minute as Osadolor was handed a red card for an aggressive tackle on Cleveland’s David Murrow.

Photo Credit: Pam Moody/

A man down, Zanesville surrendered a third goal 10 minutes later as Bell scored his second of the night and third of the weekend.

Both sides continued to trade chances, but it was the home team that struck in stoppage time as Zanesville’s Tim Findall collected a cross from Ryan McClay to end things at 3-2.

The physicality of the match was never in question.

“It was a tough game,” ZAFC midfielder Michael McLaughlin stated. “It was a tough loss.  I think the team has done well and will do well in the future.”

The result gives AFC Cleveland their first win of the season, while Zanesville remains winless despite two strong showings.

Subside Sports Man of the Match: F Vinny Bell, AFC Cleveland

Match Photos

Match Audio – Vinny Buzzetta Interview

2013 NPSL Great Lakes Conference Preview

FC Sparta Michigan will play their home matches at Hurley Field in Berkeley, MI.  The team is led by CEO Eric Kallis, Director of Operations James Babb, and Head Coach George Kallis.

“Fans should know that our club is not only instilling the concept of winning in the minds of our players but the concept that hard work will lead to success,” Eric Kallis stated.

Sparta joins a vibrant soccer market with great tradition and talent, something the organization has embraced in preparation for their inaugural season.

“The greatest feeling in the world is when you step out onto the pitch knowing that you will succeed because you take a look around and see your 10 best friends playing next to you,” Eric Kallis added.

Detroit City FC had success in their first season, on and off the pitch.  They return to their fortress at Cass Technical High School in downtown Detroit.  DCFC prides themselves in strong attendance numbers, a large supporters’ group, and their charitable work in the community.

They are led on the pitch by 2012 captain and defender Josh Rogers.

Photo Credit: DCFC/Jon DeBoer

Attacker Adam Bedell is a Livonia product that stars at the University of Detroit Mercy. He is expected to pack some scoring punch as he did at the collegiate level, leading the Horizon League with 11 goals and 27 points.

Knox Cameron is a former Columbus Crew striker, who played in 30 games and scored 4 goals for the MLS side.

“No matter what way you enter the match, you must keep the ball,” DCFC Head Coach Ben Pirmann said. “The best teams in the world keep the ball. We have special players on this team and the fans deserve to see their special flair.”

FC Buffalo returns to 4,000 seat Robert E. Rich All High Stadium in 2013, a stadium that was opened in 1926 and designed after the European soccer stadiums of the time.

Defenders Jake Rinow (Cornell) and Adam Lauko (Wisconsin), midfielder Andrew Bednarsky (St. Lawrence University), and goalkeeper Kareem Gray (Canisius) are all expected to be impact players for the 2013 FCB squad.

COO Scott Frauenhofer, GM Nick Mendola, and Director of Partnerships Brent Garner all lead Buffalo’s front office.

FC Buffalo is very excited about the direction they are heading in 2013. The addition of new head coach Brendan Murphy has seen the club undergo a change in culture. The club believes that Coach Murphy is a perfect conduit for player development as FC Buffalo seeks to become a destination for the top U.S. and international players in the NPSL.

“We’ve had seven players move on to sign professional contracts in our first three seasons,” Frauenhofer remarked. “Our dedication this year is to winning and we know we have to do it in a very difficult conference, but we are up to the challenge.”

The Erie Admirals play their home games at Cathedral Prep Events Center, a facility that seats 2,500 and features an artificial turf surface.  Goalkeeper Dan Mudd and forward Afrim Latifi are two players that have been with the Admirals for five seasons. The team is counting on their ability and leadership to make sure there is continuity year after year.

John Melody has been the head coach since the club’s inception and purchased the team two years ago, while Neil Brown is entering his third season as associate head coach. Colleen Dixon and Debbie Boniminio are key members of Erie’s front office.

“We have a tremendously strong conference and our goal is to compete week in week out,” Melody commented. “I do think in the not too distant future that the winners of our conference will also win a national championship.”

Zanesville Athletic FC is the other newcomer to the Great Lakes. They will play their home matches at Maysville Athletic Complex, a state of the art facility that features an artificial turf surface.

Tyler Drumm (IUPUI), Smart Osadolor (Tiffin), and John Barr (Muskingum) are being counted on as key contributors to the 2013 ZAFC squad.

The team is led by Head Coach Brenton Dawson, GM Lou Cancasci, and President Josh Stocker.

“ZAFC is going to be competitive in every match,” Stocker said. “It is our goal to win all of our home matches, challenge for the conference title, help our players improve, all while playing an attractive brand of soccer.”

Photo Credit: Cleveland State University

AFC Cleveland marks the return of top-flight soccer to downtown Cleveland with their move to Krenzler Field on the Cleveland State University campus.

Forward Tommy Schmitt (Akron) and defensive midfielder Carter Poe (Duquesne) return for the Royals, anchoring the attack and the defense. Dan O’Callaghan (Hiram) is a newcomer that is expected to have an impact on the Cleveland backline.

Cleveland’s coaching staff includes head coach Andy Hoggarth with Aaron McGuiness, Chris Limle, and Marquis Walker all serving as assistants. Director of Player Personnel and Scouting David Schmac leads the front office.

“It is a privilege to play in the Great Lakes Conference, one of the most competitive regions in the NPSL,” CEO Terry Lawriw stated. “It is going to be a great season for our players, staff, and supporters.”

Erie came out on top in 2012, claiming the Great Lakes Conference title in the regular season.  Cleveland won the Rust Belt Cup and advanced through the conference playoffs before falling to the Madison 56ers, just missing out on a berth in the national championship series.

Another Wave of Signings for ZAFC

Zanesville Athletic FC is pleased to announce another wave of signings for the 2013 season. Four players born and raised in Ohio are joined by a group of players with international experience, who are working toward their college degrees here in the United States.

Photo Credit: Wake Forest Athletics

Alec Ferrell will be a sophomore at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in the fall. A Westlake High School alum, Ferrell was able to garner multiple All-Conference and All-Region awards, concluding his senior year with a 2nd Team All-Ohio award. Ferrell has started this spring for Wake Forest as he competes  for a starting position and they look to build on their 11-4-5 record from 2012. Wake Forest was able to finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while also playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Michael Lambeck comes to ZAFC after spending a season as the goalkeeping coach for the University of Akron’s Women team. Before stepping into the coaching ranks, Lambeck enjoyed a successful career at Wittenberg University, where he was a four-year starter for the Tigers. He earned All-Ohio honors twice and First Team All-NCAC his senior year. Additionally, Lambeck earned All-State distinction from the Ohio High School Athletic Association while at Dublin Coffman HS.

Photo Credit: Ed Syguda

Kyle Ripma has been the starting goalkeeper for the past two seasons at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. He is a native of Brecksville, Ohio, and earned All-State and All-Conference Honors while at Brush High School. Otterbein has increased their win totals each of the last two seasons since Ripma was named starter.

Andres Palacios, a sophomore from Bluefield College in Virginia, has signed on with ZAFC. A native of Bogota, Columbia, Palacios played club soccer with Club Deportivo Atlantic before joining the Bluefield Rams in 2011. In 2012, Palacios started 17 games while tallying 3 goals and 1 assist. Most recently, the Bluefield Rams, led by Palacios, were able to defeat NCAA Division I member Longwood University in a spring match.

“Andres is a special player with great technical ability for the game,” former Bluefield head coach Chase Neidig stated. “He has a load of experience at the international level having played in the top amateur division in Columbia before coming to the U.S. to play for Bluefield College in the NAIA. He has one of the most warming personalities I have ever coached, always willing to improve and learn more about the game.”

“I believe Andres will be a great asset to Zanesville, just as he has been for Bluefield because of his ability to get forward into the attack,” Neidig added. “Whether he is playing as an outside back or outside midfielder, he become a player who can become another threat moving forward into the final third.”

Photo Credit: Urbana University Sports Information

A native of Johnstown, Ohio, Joe Carter comes to ZAFC from Urbana University, where he has become an important part of the program, starting 35 of the first 36 games of his college career. He earned First Team All-District and 2nd Team All-State as a senior at Johnstown Monroe High School and won the Ohio South State Cup as a U18 with Team Ohio/Blast FC.

Mikey McLaughlin, joins ZAFC for his second season in the NPSL. McLaughlin spent the 2012 season as a member of fellow Great Lakes side AFC Cleveland. The Ohio Wesleyan University alum is a native of Nottingham, England. In 2011, Ohio Wesleyan University and McLaughlin culminated a 23-2-0 season with an NCAA Division III National Championship.

Photo Credit: Martin Santek Photography

Daryl Fenton hails from East London, England. A central defender, he spent his youth in the Tottenham Hotspur Academy, and also had a six month spell at Barnet. Fenton currently attends Bethany College (WV), where he started nearly 30 matches over the past two seasons.

George Noubossie has committed to Zanesville Athletic from nearby Wheeling Jesuit University. The Cardinals alum hails from Silver Spring, Maryland. Noubossie helped WJU to an 11-8-0 record in 2012. Noubossie appeared in 15 games while starting 12 to help the Cardinals to a 4th place finish in the strong West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, and has earned back-to-back 2nd Team All-Conference honors. George grew up in Cameroon, and spent time training with Girodins Bordeaux in France before moving to Maryland.

Club Ohio Partners with Zanesville Athletic

Club Ohio, a soccer club based in Dublin, Ohio with affiliate programs in Westerville, Marietta and Dayton, is excited to announce its partnership with Zanesville Athletic FC.

Club Ohio, one of only 45 Nike sponsored Super Clubs in the United States, is designed and structured to meet the needs of the club soccer player who aspires to play at the highest level. The philosophy of Club Ohio is to identify and attract committed quality players and provide them with highly skilled and qualified coaches to produce state, regional, and nationally competitive teams. Training sessions emphasize development of technical skill and tactical awareness.

Between 2007 and 2012 Club Ohio produced 16 State Cup Champions and hosts one of the most elite tournaments in the region – Club Ohio Nike Challenge Cup – which accepted nearly 600 teams for the spring 2013 tournament. In the 2010 and 2011 NCAA Men’s College Cup Championship, seven former Club Ohio players participated, showing the club’s ability to produce high-level players.

“This relationship will be instrumental to the growth of Club Ohio & the development of its players,” said Club Ohio Director of Coaching Steve Dawson. “It will improve the standards of soccer in the Dublin area and expose young players to top-level competition.  We anticipate a reciprocal relationship where young and experienced players will interact via games, camps, clinics, and practice sessions.”

2013 will be Zanesville Athletic FC’s debut season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), having recently joined the league in late 2012. The NPSL is a nationwide league sponsoring 64 teams, with competition based regionally. Zanesville Athletic FC has one more tryout left on April 7 from 5-7 p.m. at Dublin Coffman HS before naming their final squad.

Club Ohio and Zanesville Athletic FC will provide a new opportunity for youth players throughout Muskingum and surrounding counties through Club Ohio Zanesville.

“This partnership will provide soccer fans and players of all ages an opportunity to see the beautiful game in many different communities,” ZAFC Head Coach Brandon Ponchak commented. “It enables Club Ohio to continue to grow in SE Ohio, and along with Marietta and Club Ohio United, it could impact thousands of people.”

More information on Club Ohio Zanesville, including tryouts and structure, will be coming in the near future.