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PDL SOCCER: Michigan gives Thunder Bay the chills by rallying for overtime win

| July 24, 2015 | Comments (0)

 

BY DAN STICKRADT

SENIOR EDITOR

dan.stickradt@northoklandsports.com

Twitter: @LocalSportsFans

PONTIAC — Although Michigan has had to play from behind in a couple of games this season, the Bucks have not been placed in a similar predicament as they were Friday.

Michigan bounced back from a 2-0 second-half deficit with two goals in the final 12 minutes of regulation, then netted the game-winner in the second overtime session to oust the Thunder Bay Chill, 3-2, in a Premier Developmental League Central Conference semifinal at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.

The Bucks, the defending North American champions, advance to Saturday night’s Central Conference championships, where the K-W United FC await for a 7:30 p.m. matchup and the right to advance to the Final Four on the line.

“We’ve had to come back, but not in a situation like this — not down 2-0 in a playoffs,” said Bucks coach Demir Muftari. “We came back against (Pittsburgh) early in the season. But here we trailed 2-0 with about 10 minutes left against a very good team. That’s hard to do. But we found a way to get it to overtime.”

Substitute Alexander Adelabu, a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, netted the game-winner at 115:08, heading home a cross from Calvin Rezende to keep the Bucks’ season alive. It was Adelabu’s third tally of the season.

“It was all Calvin. He did all the work,” deferred Adelabu. “I saw the ball coming. I just tried (to put it on goal).”

Almost dead in the water, Michigan (12-1-2) found another gear late with its two improbable goals to force overtime.

Michigan finally cut into the Chill’s deep freeze when Francis De Vries curled in a free kick into the corner of the goal from 35 yards at 79:11.

Following a hand ball in the box, the Bucks knotted the score at 2-2 when Tom Owens blasted the ensuing penalty kick into the net at 85:26.

Michigan, which held a 21-15 shots edge, including 11-6 with shots on frame, nearly scored a third late goal but Adelabu’s shot sailed just wide of the post.

Both teams showed signs of fatigue during the two overtime sessions, where Thunder Bay (9-3-3) held a narrow 8-5 shots edge.

Thunder Bay scored first on a counterattack goal. Sergio Campo-Franco’s long serve down the right side was chased down by Sulivan Oliveira-Silva, who blasted a shot into the far corner just outside of the penalty box at the 26:10 mark of the first half.

The Chill added a second counterattack goal at 43:14, when Brandon Swartzendruber finished off cross from Oliveira-Silva on a 3-on-2 rush.

“I thought we started fine. We played well. But then they scored a goal on the first real chance they got. I never felt like we were in real danger. But and then they scored another on our mistake. I didn’t think we responded well at first being down 2-0,” said Muftari. “But we kept attacking in the second half. I felt we had some good chances, but Thunder Bay did a good job of clogging up the middle. They were sitting so deep and that made it so hard to score goals. That was a good team. We kept fighting and were able to come back on them.”

Michigan avenged two recent postseason losses to Thunder Bay, which ousted the Bucks in 2011 in the  conference finals up in Canada and in the 2012 conference finals at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas.

Michigan split with its next opponent, K-W United, with each team posting a 3-1 victory at home during the regular season.

“We’ll get as much rest as we possibly can,” said Muftari. “Hopefully we’ll have enough in the tank (Saturday).”

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

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