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NPSL North Round Up: End of Regular Season

Med City win in Minneapolis to clinch first ever playoff appearance, while Duluth wins big at home without playoff qualification for the first time in three years.

July 12, 2019 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minneapolis City SC forward Whitney Browne (10) dribbles around Med City FC player Nicholas Itopoulos during a match at Edor Nelson Field.
July 12, 2019 - Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States - Minneapolis City SC forward Whitney Browne (10) dribbles around Med City FC player Nicholas Itopoulos during a match at Edor Nelson Field.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

Regular Season:

Friday:

Duluth FC vs La Crosse Aris

With their playoff chances still in the air, Duluth took to the pitch Friday knowing the best they could do was win their last game, and win they did. A first half explosion in the attack saw Gonnie Ben-Tal and Alberto Diaz scored a goal a piece, joining Ronaldo Fortune who earned a first half brace and Lucas Jacobs, who scored a 15 minute hat trick to celebrate his timely birthday. At the half way mark it was clear Duluth had this match secured, with several substitutions being made before the second half kicked off.

James Westfield and Jake Starling would add to the bunch at the beginning and end of the half, but it was Carlyle Junior who scored the prettiest of the bunch, first with a lobbing chip over the keeper from the edge of the 18 yard box and secondly with a well-executed strike from the corner of the 6 yard box which found the side netting. Junior ends the season as Duluth’s top goal scorer with 10 in all competitions.

Duluth, however, did not qualify for the playoffs due to the heroics of Med City the same day. It will be the first time since joining the NPSL that Duluth does not take part in the league’s playoffs, despite winning the regional portion of the tournament last season.

Minneapolis City vs Med City

Minneapolis hosted Med City in a game that mattered to both sides for very different reasons. Minneapolis needed a win to get a bye for the first round of the playoffs, while Med City needed a win to stay qualified for said playoffs. It was Med City who found the answer to their problems first, when Marcos Fernandez de Oliveira found the back of the net in just the fourth minute of play. Fernandez found the ball at the edge of the box after a series of offensive and defensive touches. Fernandez struck the ball well into the bottom left corner of the net, maneuvering the ball in such a way that most of the defensive players in the area didn't react until it was past them.

The game continued with a mixture of chances for both sides, though Minneapolis grew into the game with the help of the home crowd and had several close chances. It wouldn't, however, be there night and the Crows would fail to find the back of the net for the first time this season. It added a second loss to their tally, two more than their undefeated season in 2018. It did not, however, affect their grip on the conference title, which was won the week before in Duluth.

Med City, meanwhile, would reach the final whistle knowing they’d just sealed their first ever appearance in the NPSL playoffs after three years of trying. Always an upper table side with good quality, the Rochester-club have always finished outside of the playoff spots, often by only a few points. This season was different and the Medics are off to the quarter finals.

Saturday:

MapleBrook TwinStars FC vs Sioux Fall Thunder FC

A tough first half found this match, one largely played for pride with no danger of changes on the table, ended tightly at the half with a 2-2 scoreline. Sikiru Kareem, as has happened often this season, was the one to break the deadlock in the second half and make it 3-2 for the TwinStars in the final home game of the season. The win hands the TwinStars 19 points this season, two less than their 21 in 2018. However, with two fewer games this season, the club’s points per game has increased from 1.5 to 1.58

NPSL North Standings after Week 11, the final week of play in the 2019 regular season.
Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Playoffs:

Minneapolis City missed out on a bye due to their loss to Med City, along with positive results for Cleveland and Detroit City. This means they will play Med City in the quarter final for the Midwest Region. The remaining spots in the Midwest playoffs were won by Cleveland SC, Detroit City, AFC Ann Arbor, and the Rochester Lancers.

Minneapolis City’s higher PPG rate will make them the hosts of the Med City match, held tonight, July 16th, as the quarters are hosted by one of the two clubs playing. The semi-finals and final however, will be hosted by Detroit City in Detroit, MI. Minneapolis City have stated the game won't be hosted at Edor Nelson Field, their home for the 2017 and 2019 seasons due it it being booked. It will instead be held at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park.

The winner of the match between Med City and Minneapolis City will play Detroit City in the semi-finals, while the winner of a quarter final between Ann Arbor and the Rochester Lancers will play Cleveland SC in the other semi-final, with the winners of the two of course meeting in the regional final.