A First: Akron City FC secures first club playoff victory in 4-2 win

Writer: Sideline and Beat Reporter, Cade Cracas

Akron, Ohio — No matter who it was in the face of Akron City FC (ACFC), a local rival or an NPSL powerhouse, the red-hot tear of the boys in blue could not be stopped.

Unfortunately for Michigan Rangers FC (MRFC), they met the same fate as the previous seven opponents that ACFC had taken down. On Wednesday, July 10, ACFC paid host to MRFC at Green Street Stadium on the campus of St. Vincent- St. Mary High School.

Through 90 minutes of break-neck paced play, ACFC came out on top, 4-2, to secure the club's first ever playoff win. The victory also marked seven straight wins in NPSL play, heading into the Midwest Great Lakes Conference championship.

Prior to the outing on Wednesday, ACFC and MRFC had taken on one another two times prior, once at home and once away. In both, the team that calls Akron home found wins coming out on top 5-0 and 3-2.

Over the course of the entire regular season ACFC had amassed an overall record of 9-0-2 while knocking in 43 goals and allowing just 10.

To kickstart the first half of play, both team's battled back and forth for control of the game early. ACFC belted the ball deep into the MRFC final third multiple times within the first 10 minutes, before they finally started to put the opposition on the their heels.

In the 21st minute, forward Pedro Faria, who has been one of the team's top contributors in recent weeks, headed home the first goal of the game. Midfielder Colin Biros received a ball off the back head of a MRFC defender, before tapping it around to the right of the goalkeeper. Faria, who made an incredible sprint to help out on the play, buried the ball to put ACFC up 1-0.

They began to establish heavy home-field advantage with the support of RubberCityUnderground looming in the Airdock. With excitement and loud cheers from the team's supporters, the players on the built off the momentum, finding two more goals in the first half.

Biros, who assisted on the opening goal, scored the other two first-half goals. His first came in the 26th minute, followed by his second just minutes later in the 34th minute.

ACFC went on to coast through the rest of the opening 45 minutes of play, heading into the halftime break with a 3-0 edge. Keeping in line with recent history, Hoggarth was ecstatic with his team's performance and continued excellence on the offensive end.

They maintained strong, yet comfortable play within the midfield for the first few minutes of the second half. However, the team became too comfortable, as ACFC began getting lackadaisical with the ball.

MRFC took a simple chip shot at ACFC goalkeeper Patrick McGlaughlin, who attempted to make a routine catch. The ball went through his hands, partially due to the slick weather conditions, and into the back of the net for the first away goal of the day.

The opposition then ramped up their intensity, finding a second goal in the 55th minute to cut the deficit to two.

Fortunately for the home side, neither those in attendance or the athletes on the pitch backed down. Biros, who's now being deemed "Mr. Playoffs", found his third goal of the game to put the final nail in the coffin for ACFC's win. His hat-trick would cap off the club's first ever playoff win with a memorable stat-line.

With the win, they prepare to compete in the Midwest Great Lakes Conference championship, with hopes of moving on to the regional round with a win in their next game.

They will next take on Steel City FC in the conference championship, who the team has taken on just once before this season. That outing came back on May 31, in ACFC's third game of the 2024 NPSL regular season, where they lost 2-1.

The game is set to take place on the road in Pittsburgh, Pa. with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. EST