It was an exciting 2014 season for the AFC Cleveland Royals, but their hopes of making a playoff run came to a halt after losing to the Erie Admirals 2-1.
With a great home crowd on Fan Appreciation Day, the Royals came out hot as they were able to dominate the opening moments of the match. Within the opening minutes, forward Vinny Bell and left back Robbie Dambrot were able to put shots on goal. Vinny Bell used his size and strength as he has all season to push the Erie defenders aside, while Dambrot, who is recovering from stress fractures, was able to use pace and some impressive cuts to open space for a shot.
With so much pressure on the Erie keeper in the opening minutes, the first goal did not take long to develop. After a fantastic first season for the Royals, midfielder Antonio Manfut was able to contribute again today for the Royals’ 9th minute goal. Receiving the ball roughly 20 to 25 yards from goal, Manfut put another perfect pass between two Erie defenders, where he was able to find center midfielder Ryan Minick. Minick had a one-on-one against the keeper running in from the left side of the pitch. Using his right foot he was able to place a low roller underneath the keeper and into the bottom corner of the net. It was a great moment for Minick as he ran towards the home stands, kissing the AFC Cleveland crest on his jersey.
Even after what felt like a crushing blow to the Admirals, they were able to push back quickly. Just as in previous meetings this season, Karl Jones would not let the Royals drift into the playoffs. Only moments later in the 16th minute, the 6’3” forward was able to put a shot into the net, evening up the match. Using his frame to his advantage, Jones was able to shake off a Cleveland defender creating space for himself. Jones, who plays at Tiffin University, was able to place an almost identical shot to Minick’s into the bottom corner of the net.
The Erie goal seemed to deflate the Cleveland attack as the Admirals capitalized again in the 24th minute. Jake Duska was able to take advantage of some poor passing by the Royals and was simply too close to Royals keeper Spencer Semple to make any adjustments. With the score line 2-1 the Admirals never looked back, as they went into a hard defensive shell, ultimately shutting down any Royals attacks.
Your Subside Sports Man of the Match after scoring a great goal is Ryan Minick. Minick is a workhorse in the midfield and deserves more credit than he has received this year. A box-to-box player, Minick was able to take advantage of a great pass from his teammate, to score in the last home match of the season. Following the match Minick had this to say about the Royals’ future.
“It’d be nice to see a couple new faces next year. We had a young team this year, except a couple veterans. I think with a new team, a new year, we will come out with a lot of excitement and ready to play.”
Even with the season coming to a close, AFC Cleveland Royals head coach Aaron McGuiness will have multiple bright spots to look upon. With a young roster, McGuiness will have the ability to continue to mentor and grow his players. While some players may come and go, McGuiness will have a great sales pitch to players, seeing as how the Royals were only a few points away from going to the postseason.