PDL League Update: Champion crowned in Pontiac

Pontiac, Michigan, just north of Detroit, was host to one of the most exciting championship games in the history of the Premier Development League. After defeating the Ocean City Nor'easters in New Jersey on July 30th, Calgary Foothills FC headed to Pontiac looking to do something no team has done all year: defeat the Michigan Bucks at home. The stingy, possession-oriented Bucks defense led by goalkeeper Drew Shepherd dominated Midland Odessa at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas, where the #1 seed in the playoffs scored 3 goals to  send the Sockers back to Texas. Michigan then prepared to battle for the PDL championship at home, with a chance to win their league-record 3rd trophy.

The clash of playstyles was evident early on as both teams were able to work to their own advantages, Calgary being very counter-happy, and Michigan looking to hold the ball for minutes on end. Michigan seemed to be given an early opportunity as striker Russell Cicerone looked to be taken down in the box in the 2nd minute, but the referee said it was not enough for a penalty, and play continued. After a tightly contested first 20 minutes, Cicerone finally found the back of the net as he touched it past the goalkeeper from 10 yards out, and Michigan took a 1-0 lead. Calgary would strike back as Nico Pasquotti scored the first goal for any visiting team in Ultimate Soccer Arenas in the playoffs in the 37th. The match would go into the half knotted at 1-1, but more drama was brewing for the second half. Dominic Russo of Foothills FC forced his way into the box and shot a perfectly placed ball past Shepherd and Calgary took their first lead of the game in the 60th, 2-1.
Minutes ticked by and Michigan seemed to be struggling to get anything going in the second half, but as hope seemed to be fading, Cicerone restored the excitement for the home crowd  in the 74th minute as he crossed the ball over to David Goldsmith, who headed it just out of reach of the goalkeeper and into the net. More time passed, the game tied 2-2, and extra time became more and more of a likely scenario, but Russell Cicerone was not done. In the 87th minute, Russell was tripped up in the box and a yellow card was assessed to Jonathan Wheeldon. Cicerone took the penalty and nailed it into the bottom left corner, and Michigan took a late 3-2 lead. Calgary could not find the equalizer, and the 15-2-0 Bucks took the Championship. A team with a long, storied history, Michigan continued to prove their league dominance as they won their record 3rd title.

With the completion of the championship game, the 2016 PDL season officially comes to a close, and the wait begins for May 2017 and the beginning of a new year. MOBA Soccer Stadium and MOBA Soccer Academy continue to near completion, and fans of Peachtree City MOBA look for the team to make an impact next season, and fight their way to a division title and playoff berth.



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