MEN'S SOCCER: Rovers' late goals down Bucks | North Oakland Sports

MEN’S SOCCER: Rovers’ late goals down Bucks

| May 27, 2013 | Comments (0)



CANTON — What started out to be a glorious day at the 31st annual Canton Cup Memorial Weekend Soccer Tournament ended in disaster for the Michigan Bucks on Saturday as they gave up two goals in the game’s final minutes to give the River City Rovers their first win of the season, 2-1, in bizarre fashion.

Played before a spirited crowd of over 1,200 fans on a perfect sunny day, the Bucks came out attacking from the opening whistle and didn’t stop until the 88th minute, when it looked like a sure 1-0 win for the home side was in the cards. However, the game ended with a long distance shot that Bucks goal keeper Adam Grinwis thought was sailing wide of the net in the 92nd minute, handing the home side their first loss of the season and first ever loss in six games at the Canton Cup tournament.

The Bucks (1-1-0) began the game attacking the Rovers (1-1-1) goal relentlessly and created several opportunities in the early going, including a Zach Steinberger miss from close range in the game’s first ten minutes. River City keeper Taylor Hafling was forced to make five saves in the first half in addition to defending five dangerous corner kicks that should have produced at least one goal before halftime.

Meanwhile on defense, the Bucks were solid, only allowing one chance on goal when Rovers forward John Manga got in alone on Grinwis, forcing the  Michigan goalkeeper to make a great save in the game’s 38th minute. Tom Catalano looked to have a sure goal right before halftime when he headed a cross from Drew Ruggles that was tipped over the crossbar by Hafling.

The teams went into halftime scoreless, which seemed to be a good result for the Rovers and disappointing for the Bucks.

The second half started out as the first half ended, with continuous pressure from the Bucks attacking team of Catalano, Steinberger and Dion Peters.  The trio couldn’t solve the River City defense until the 57th minute when another Ruggles free kick was deflected off the head of Bucks defender Nick Harris right to PDL player of the week Steinberger, who calmly finished his 4th goal of the season to give the Bucks a 1-0 - foot on ballsoccer - foot on ball

While the Bucks continued to control the flow of play, the Rovers never gave up and continued to wait for their opportunity to counter attack to get the game’s tying goal.  In the meantime, Halfing would stone Catalano on a breakaway with a great last second arm save as the forward was rounding the keeper to try and put the game out of reach.

With only a couple of minutes left to kill off to send the partisan crowd home happy, Hafling sent a long ball following the save of a Bucks free kick, down the left sideline. Eighty yards later, Rovers second half sub Mustafa Warsame finished a cross inside the six to tie the game with a couple of minutes to play.

While the Bucks were stunned by the goal on only their second shot of the game, what would happen next was imaginable.

With both teams awating the referee’s final whistle, River City defender Peter May lined up for what looked to be a harmless free kick from about 40 yards out. When May hit his long shot, Grinwis thought he was outside his goal post and let the ball sail over his head in order to get a goal kick.

“It was a huge mistake on my part,” said the reigning PDL goal keeper of the year. “I figured I would let the ball go, take the goal kick and the ref would blow the final whistle. When I turned to get another ball from the ball boy for the goal kick, I was as surprised as anyone to see the ball in the back of the net. I feel horrible because it was such an easy play to make and I just made the wrong decision. It’s tough to lose any game, but this one was unexplainable.”

Bucks head coach Demir Muftari was as mystified as everyone that watched the play that left everyone scratching their heads.

“Never in my life have a seen a goal like that. I guess it might have been funny if we were winning 3-0, but this one was costly,” sighed Muftari. “Set aside the goal, we made mental errors all over the park today and should have been so far ahead in this game that a fluke like that shouldn’t have mattered. We played some very good soccer, but we have to get better mentally as a team.

“This is a game you have to kill off when it is 1-0 that late in the game,” continued Muftari. “To hold them to only three shots on goal in a game and lose 2-1 is a hard thing to swallow. But that is this league and this division. Give them credit, they never gave up, even when they tied the score.”


The Bucks will train this week in preparation for Saturday’s opening home game at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac when the Buck host K-W United from Ontario, Canada at 7:30 PM. Inspired by 11 year old Hunter Haapala from White Lake, the Bucks will be offering discounted tickets to Saturday’s game for those who will donate to help the unfortunate victims of last week’s tornados in  Moore, Oaklahoma. Fans bringing new or used clothes, books, shoes, food, school supplies and toiletries will be admitted to the game for only $5.   The Bucks will be collecting supplies at Ultimate Soccer Arenas all week long.  Supplies can also be dropped off any of the Soccer Plus locations in Livonia, Bloomfield and  Ann Arbor.

The Haapala family plans to drive all the supplies to Moore after June 2.

“The Bucks are always happy to support any effort we can during the course of the year. We found this opportunity special because the idea came from a caring young boy who wanted to reach out and help total strangers in need. That in itself is enough to make you want to participate. It is a sad situation with a wonderful idea and random act of kindness of behalf of a local Detroit area family.  We hope that people not only come to the game and donate, but will also help in any other way possible,” said Bucks CEO Dan Duggan.

Gates will open at 6 PM at Ultimate Soccer Arenas to begin collecting supplies and selling $5 discounted game tickets.


For more information on the Bucks, please go to our web site at   For more information on Hunter’s mission to help those in need, please e-mail


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