Former Detroit City FC player Alec Lasinski returned to haunt his former club, scoring the winning goal to hand AFC Ann Arbor a 3-1 victory over its National Premier Soccer League rival Tuesday before a season-high 6,972 spectators at Hamtramck's Keyworth Stadium.
Ann Arbor’s James Vaughan scored twice, converting a penalty kick in the 90th minute to seal the victory in a make-up after Friday's encounter was postponed due to a flooded field.
The win enabled Ann Arbor (10-1-1, 31 points) to return to first place in the Great Lakes Conference while ending Detroit's nine-game winning streak.
Ann Arbor only needs a draw from its final two regular-season matches (at Grand Rapids on Friday or against the Michigan Stars at home on Monday) to clinch the division title and a first-round playoff bye. Detroit and Ann Arbor have already qualified for the postseason.
"It was a magical second half for us," AFC Ann Arbor coach Eric Rudland said. "The first half didn't go our way. Tactically, the game plan did not work. We thought we would make some tactical changes at halftime and we brought on Alec Lasinski and he was a game changer for us."
Lasinski, who was the 2013 state's "Mr. Soccer" at Ann Arbor Skyline, latched onto a bouncing ball in the box and powered a shot that Detroit City FC goalkeeper Fernando Pina goalkeeper got a hand on but couldn't turn away. The goal came 12 minutes after he subbed for forward Kyle Breitmeyer.
Lasinski played for Le Rouge last season and supplied the tying goal in DCFC's 3-3 draw in an international friendly against FC United.
"We played him as our center forward when he came on," Rudland said. "He was pretty hungry out there. He had one opportunity and he took his chance extremely well. It was an unbelievable goal he scored for us."
Detroit (9-2-2, 29 points) opened the scoring when Elijah Rice struck in the 44th minute, one-timing a pass from defender Kervin Kenton into the net. The build up came through the center and then down the left flank where Kenton delivered the well-timed pass.
The goal rewarded Le Rouge's combination play throughout the first half.
Vaughan's free-kick strike 12 minutes into the second half changed the tenor of the match. The midfielder sent the spot kick over the DCFC wall and around the post from 25 yards out. The tying goal came in the 57th minute.
Three minutes later, Ann Arbor's Kaleb Jackson broke free at midfield before being stripped of the ball on a robust tackle in the penalty area by Tyrone Mondi, who tracked back 75 yards to make the play.
"We're disappointed in the result because I thought we played a really really good game," DCFC coach Ben Pirmann said. "You've got to give Ann Arbor credit. They found a way to win and good teams do that.
"Generally, I was pleased with our performance and work ethic and I thought we did a really good job with our game plan. After 60 minutes, we could have done a little bit better of getting after them more. The result is bit disappointing. We're probably not going to get a bye now in the playoffs."
Detroit wraps up the regular season Friday when it hosts Lansing United at 7:30 p.m at Keyworth Stadium. The team hosts Italian second division side Venezia FC on Tuesday in an international friendly.
The NPSL Midwest Region playoffs start July 22.
"If you would have asked me eight weeks ago would I like to have the record (9-2-2) that we have now I would say sure," Pirmann said. "We just have to move forward and get what we can Friday and then get a little bit of rest and get ready for the first round of the playoffs."