Back-to-back wins over SIGFC propels Akron City FC into 2024 NPSL playoffs

Writer: Sideline and Beat Reporter, Cade Cracas

Two games in three days, no problem for Akron City FC (ACFC) as the team found wins in both outings against Southern Indian Guardians FC (SIGFC).

On Friday, June 28, ACFC dogpiled onto SIGFC on the road, taking them down by a score of 5-1. After the triumphant win, the team then continued to excel as they hosted SIGFC at Green Street Stadium on Sunday.

In the matchup on Sunday, June 30, ACFC pounced on their opposition early and often en route to another dominating performance. With a final score of 11-0, ACFC has now secured a spot in the 2024 Midwest Great Lakes playoffs.

The outing on Friday showcased a plethora of positives for the team that calls Akron home.

“We got three points. It was a matter of getting through it,” Hoggarth said after the win Friday. “We want to see a bit more quality in the final third, but we were able to get the job done which is nice.”

They were able to thrive on the offensive end, scoring four total goals with forward Stefan Dobrijevic finding the back of the net twice himself. His recent high level of play continued to help ACFC in the second matchup between the two teams.

“We just gotta start the game quickly and finish our chances,” he said. “We just need to finish the season off.”

From the opening jump Sunday, ACFC defended their home turf in Akron. Just seven minutes into the game, forward Sam Sarver dialed up a shot from the right side of the goal, burying it into the far-side corner.

His goal planted the stake in the ground early for ACFC, as they took a 1-0 lead.

They maintained consistent pressure on SIGFC for the remainder of the first half. With under 20 minutes to go until halftime, another goal would be found by the home team. Defender Quinn Groves played the ball into the middle of the field, where midfielder Jannis Schmidt found a streaking Sarver on the far side of the field.

He took his time before playing the ball back behind himself to Dobrijevic, who squared the ball up and chipped it into the top left corner. Yet again, the offense struck, putting ACFC up by two goals. They went on to find a third goal in the 33rd minute with a header from defender Daniel Lacerda.

Well, just when you thought ACFC was going to ease off the gas, they put the pedal to the metal four more times in the first half.

In the 37th minute, Dobrijevic found his second goal of the game and fourth in the last two outings. They then drilled a ball into the back netting three minutes later as midfielder Jackson Herbert sent a beautiful cross to the running foot of midfielder Kelly Jannsen. With no chance to breathe, ACFC pounced on SIGFC as they found a sixth goal in the 43rd minute from Schmidt. The head ref allotted a few extra minutes before halftime which was enough time for Jannsen to find the seventh goal.

Heading into halftime, Hoggarth had no complaints about his team’s performance through the first 45 minutes.

“We haven’t just ran through them, we’ve actually handled the ball well,” he said. “We challenged the guys to play the right way and work on things they will need for the playoffs.

“Friday we struggled to play off the ball, but today we have just played the right way.”

Unfortunately for SIGFC, ACFC continued to play the right way as in the 48th minute, Schmidt buried the game’s eighth goal, as ACFC led 8-0.

They continued to mount heavy pressure on SIGFC’s defense and would go on to score 11 total goals in the outing. The remainder of the second-half goals were scored by forward Pedro Faria, midfielder RC Schmeider and goalkeeper-turned-forward, Omeed Naemmy.

The final total of 11 goals would be the largest amount scored in a game by ACFC in club history, with the 11-goal differential also being the biggest margin between themselves and an opponent. Dobrijevic now has scored a breathtaking 11 goals in NPSL action this season, with the second half of the duo, Sarver, at nine.

“From start to finish we moved the ball quickly and finished our chances,” said Dobrijevic.

The victory moves the club to 7-0-2 on the season with one game to go in the regular season and solidifies their spot in the Midwest Great Lakes playoffs. This playoff birth is the first in the three-year history of the club.

ACFC next looks to take on Erie Commodores, who sit at an overall record of 2-2-3, on Saturday, July 6. The outing will take place on the road with kickoff set for 6:00 p.m. EST

“We need to use this game to keep motivating us and that if we win that last game we can potentially be tied for first,” said Dobrijevic.

Current Midwest Great Lakes Standings

1. Steel City FC: Clinched Playoffs

2. AKRON CITY FC: Clinched Playoffs

3. Cleveland SC: Playoffs TBD

4. Michigan Rangers FC: Playoffs TBD

5. Flower City Union: Playoffs TBD

6. Erie Commodores: Playoffs Missed

7. SIGFC: Playoffs Missed

8. Niagara 1812: Playoffs Missed