BY DAN STICKRADT
PONTIAC, Mich. — Outscoring the opposition 58-14 so far this season, the Michigan Bucks already own two wins over Forest City London, both coming in PDL’s Great Lakes Division play.
Michigan (17-2-2), the No. 1 ranked team in the 73-franchise Premier Developmental League spanning the United States and Canada, will play FC London a third time Sunday night at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.
The Bucks defeated FC London 1-0 and 2-1 in the regular season and is looking for the clean sweep of the second place team in the Great Lakes Division.
This time the stage is much bigger.
The 6 p.m. contest is the Central Conference finals, as both teams advanced Saturday night with 1-0 wins. Michigan downed Realm Colorado 1-0 despite holding a commanding 27-7 shots edge. FC London upset last year’s Central Conference champion, Thunder Bay, 1-0, in the other conference semifinal.
The winner advances to the PDL Final Four July 27-28 at a site and time to be determined on Monday night.
The Bucks, who have qualified for the postseason a record 15 times in 17 seasons — Michigan only missed in 2001 and 2009 — are aiming for its fifth Final Four bid in its storied history.
Michigan has won eight of the last 11 Great Lakes Division titles, including four of the last five, and is in in the postseason for the 10th time in 11 seasons. As for reaching the Final Four, the Bucks advanced to the final weekend of the three-month season in 1997, 2000, 2006, 2007 and again in 2012.
Michigan won a national title in 2006 and finished as the national runner-up in both 2000 and 2007.
Bucks coach Gary Parsons doesn’t mind playing the same team three times in one season.
“We are more familiar (with FC London) than to Thunder Bay,” he said. “But this is what we play for at this time of the season. Every team is good at this stage, so it doesn’t matter who you play.”
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