PDL SOCCER: Michigan Bucks reign with second North American title | North Oakland Sports

PDL SOCCER: Michigan Bucks reign with second North American title

| August 3, 2014 | Comments (0)

Bucks win second cup in four trips to PDL finals





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PONTIAC — Sometimes scoring chances in soccer can be like a flash of lightning. A seam on the pitch can only be visible for a second or less before it closes out.

Tommy Owens had flash of brilliance Sunday afternoon, taking advantage of the smallest gap to score a goal in the 58th minute.

Behind the stellar play of goalkeeper Adam Grinwis and Michigan Bucks’ sturdy backline, the fourth-seeded hosts made Owens’ tally stand and stole away a 1-0 victory over the top-seeded Kitsap (Wash.) Pumas to claim the 2014 United Soccer Leagues-Premier Developmental League North American championship at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.

“You live for games like this,” offered Owens, a product of Notre Dame College. “You don’t get that many chances. I just kicked it and it found itself in (the net). I don’t score that many goals, so when it went in emotions took over.”

The goal turned out to not only be Owens’ first marker of the campaign, but one of the biggest in franchise lore.

The Bucks, who were making their sixth Final Four appearance and fourth showing in the PDL championship match in 19 seasons in the league, captured their second North American championship — their first on its home turf. Michigan, the all-time winningest franchise in the 64-team PDL history, last finished with the PDL Cup in 2006, when the Bucks edged host Loredo (Texas) Heat, 2-1.

Michigan also lost in the finals in 2000 and 2007.

“This is incredible,” said Owens. “What an effort. Our back line and (goalkeeper) were very good today. They did a lot of the work and deserve the credit. I just happened to be there to score the goal.”

Kitsap posted a 13-9 shots edge, including 9-4 with shots directly on frame in the contest. The Pumas had a flurry of chances over the final dozen minutes and four minutes of stoppage time, but Griwnis came up with a pair of acrobatic saves and finished the afternoon with 10th clean sheet of the season.

Grinwis recorded nine saves between the pipes and was quite active patrolling the box and turning away multiple crosses and cornerkicks down the stretch, as Kitsap moved to a 3-4-3 attack formation down the stretch to try to net the equalizer.

“We made the changes to try to tie it up, as we always go to a 3-4-3 in these type of situations,” said Kitsap head coach Andrew Chapman.

Grinwis, who hails from the University of Michigan, yielded just one two goals in four postseason games, including just one in the PDL Final Four. He was at his best in the title match.

“You live for moments like this,” smiled Grinwis. “Our back line is so strong, they make it easier. I knew I had to do my part.”

Chances were at premium for the Bucks until Owens’ clutch goal proved to be all the scoring the Bucks needed. Retrieving a short heel pass from Ken Tribbett, Owens found an opening in the Kitsap defense and ripped a low shot through traffic that curled inside the far post at 57:30.

“You don’t always get that many chances in a game like this,” said Bucks head coach Demir Muftari. “Tommy probably only had one shot the whole game and he buried it.”

The victory ended a stellar 11-2-3 campaign for Michigan, which closed the season on an eight-game win streak — a stretch where the Bucks outscored the opposition 21-2 with six shutouts. Michigan last lost on June 27 in a 3-2 setback to the Chicago Fire U-23, 3-2, which turned out to be the most goals Michigan allowed in a game this season.

The Bucks outscored its 16 opponents by a commanding 46-10 margin this season, one of the many reasons why Muftari called this year’s group “special.”

“We’ve had a lot of great teams with the Bucks over the years, but only a few of them have been special,” beamed Muftari. “It takes a lot of hard work to put this together.

“There is a big process in all of this. We try to bring in players every year that have this type of goal in mind,” continued Muftari. “It doesn’t always end up like this, but getting here is always the goal. In 20 years we’ve never had a losing season. We bring in these type of players and we don’t mince words what our goal are every year.

“What a great group of guys,” continued Muftari. “The chemistry on this team was amazing.”

Good enough to take home the cup.

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About Dan Stickradt: DAN STICKRADT | SENIOR EDITOR dan.stickradt@northoaklandsports.com View author profile.

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