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NPSL North Round Up: Midwest Region Playoffs

Cleveland SC fought back and needed extra time in the first Semifinal, while Minneapolis City fell to the home Detroit City to determine Sunday’s final.

Ashle Norling/E Pluribus Loonum

Regional Semi-Finals:

Cleveland SC vs Rochester Lancers

With a season series at one win a piece Cleveland took on Rochester in the rubber match to determine not only the winner of the season series but who moves on to Sunday and who goes home. In the end Cleveland SC won 6-4 but it took extra time to decide the match.

Rochester got on the board fast and early as Michael Cunningham curled a free kick over the Cleveland wall from 25 yards to give the Lancers the early lead. The Lancers didn’t let up as just five minutes later, in the 7th minute, they scored again. Cunningham took another free kick from about 25 yards and fired straight at the Cleveland keeper who saved it but Rafael Godoi headed the rebound in for the goal. Cleveland SC finally got on the board in the 20th minute when a cross came to Vinny Bell inside the 6’ who finished the play with a sloppy but effective goal to make it 2-1.

It took until past the 80th minute to see another goal in the match but it was Austin Gerber with a cross from the by line to Uros Momic. Momic beat the Cleveland defender and keeper to finish the cross and put it in the goal for the Lancers third goal of the night. Not to much later in the 85th minute Cleveland played a ball into the box and it ended similar to a goal they gave up earlier. Lancer keeper Andrew Coughlin punched the ball away but Mike Derezic got his foot on the ball long enough to send it into the back of the net to make it 3-2. In the 89th minute Cleveland’s Corbin McAvinew served a long pass from 40 yards out into the 18 yard box where Thomas Beck got his head on it and blasted it into the back left corner of the net to level the score after being near elimination just 10 minutes prior.

Just 4 minutes into the extra time Vinny Bell snagged himself a brace and Cleveland their first lead of the night on a nice little shot on the ground from about 10 yards out from the goal inside the 18’. The 101st minute saw Isaac Kissi fought through a challenge to put a pass from the air directly into the goal to even the match at four. It wouldn’t stay that way for long as Vinny Bell turned his brace into a hat trick with a sliding goal in the six off a pass from Thomas Beck. Momentum would change again towards Rochester as Cleveland SC’s Admir Suljevic was given his second yellow card which put CSC down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes. Vinny Bell snagged his fourth goal of the evening in the 119th minute to seal the match up for Cleveland.

Detroit City FC vs Minneapolis City SC

Minneapolis City fought gamely, but ultimately the gulf in class between their shorthanded lineup—that featured three subs and two season debutants—and Great Lakes Conference champion and soon-to-be Founders Cup debutants Detroit City FC was too much in a 2-0 defeat.

Minneapolis City took on waves of pressure from the home Detroit City FC throughout the open of the match, holding on well until the 22nd minute when Shawn Lawson took first blood. His open shot from the top of the 6-yard box slotted through Troy Louwagie to make it 1-0. The Crows benefitted from some profligacy from the home side, whose shots from Max Todd and Danny Deakin regularly hit the side netting as the half continued. On the stroke of halftime, Minneapolis almost leveled, forcing a goal line stop from Hunter Morse on a set of headers from a Max Stiegwardt free kick.

A physical start to the second half saw a flurry of yellow cards, with three in the first fifteen minutes coming from hard fouls from Crows Eli Goldman and Nick Hutton, who took down Detroit’s offender Abdoulaye Diop and forced an early sub. While Minneapolis got a dose of quality with Will Kidd coming on at half for Ben Wexler, the depth of Detroit City and the missing fitness from short rest and long travel caught up with the Crows. After some back and forth play that threatened to get the visitors back into the game, a handball in the box gave Detroit City the insurance penalty that they needed, slotted home by Max Todd in the 79th minute. Amid the late smoke, Detroit City was able to pass the game around, flexing their substitutes for the home fans.

Regional Finals:

Cleveland SC vs Detroit City FC

Storylines abound in Sunday’s Region Title decider — a long rivalry between Ohio and Michigan restored by the two clubs’ early matchups dating back to 2012. Both sides were the clear class of the Midwest this year, with Detroit City taking their run-up to Founder’s Cup seriously in bringing on head coach and GM Trevor James. Cleveland will counter with the four-goal machine Vinny Bell. A 1 p.m. Eastern Time start will see one of the most hyped matchups of the NPSL season, and can be streamed on Detroit City FC’s YouTube channel and MyCujoo.TV.