'Main guy' Mondi's magic powers DCFC to regional final

By Geoff Robinson
Special to The Detroit News
Detroit City FC forward Tyrone Mondi, right, is congratulated by forward Shawn Lawson, left, and defenseman Omar Sinclair after Mondi scores his third goal of the first half on Friday.

Hamtramck — Tyrone Mondi posted a natural hat trick in the first half and led Detroit City Football Club to a 5-2 win over Duluth FC in a National Premier Soccer League Midwest Region semifinal Friday night at Keyworth Stadium.

The win sets up a showdown between fourth-seeded DCFC and top-seeded AFC Ann Arbor on Saturday night for the right to advance to the NPSL semifinals.

Mondi opened the scoring when he took a long ball from Shawn Lawson and was able to slip it past Duluth goalie Tom Greensall. The ball almost made it to the boundary, and Mondi didn’t appear to have much of an angle, but he got his left foot on it and fired into the far corner to put Le Rouge up 1-0 in the 18th minute.

“As I went in I thought that (the ball) was too far gone,” Mondi said. “But I took a chance and managed to squeeze it between his legs.

“The preparation coming into the game was phenomenal. It’s always been a team effort, and I think that’s why I was able to have the game that I did.”

Second-seeded Duluth struck back seven minutes later when Ivan Adika put a beautiful cross through the box and found Kyle Farrar on the other end. Farrar’s header tied the game at 1 and sparked a Duluth squad that looked out of sorts for the game’s first 24 minutes.

Two minutes later, Duluth’s Ben Phillips scored to put his team up 2-1 less than 10 minutes after falling behind.

“I thought some stuff came easy for us in the first 15 minutes,” Le Rouge coach Ben Pirmann said. “It wasn’t easy. We had to work hard to do it, but then we stopped working hard and we’re down 2-1. We do that tomorrow night, our season’s over. We have to make sure we’re dialed in from the opening kickoff.”

Little did Pirmann know that Mondi was just getting started.

Mondi was on the spot when he rebounded Cyrus Saydee’s attempt on goal. Greensall was able to make the initial save on Saydee, but Mondi was in the perfect position to tap the ball home in the 32nd minute to tie the game at 2.

Three minutes later, Mondi got involved again, serving up a corner kick that was flicked home by David Edwardson.

Le Rouge had its lead back.

“(Mondi)’s special,” Pirmann said. “The knock on him is that he doesn’t score as much as he should, but he obviously put that to bed tonight. He’s the main guy for us.”

And just for good measure, Mondi made sure to get his hat trick before the break when he finished from the middle of the box to put DCFC up 4-2 in the 45th minute.

Le Rouge had a chance to add to its lead out the gate in the second half when Mondi was taken down in the box in the 49th minute. Shawn Lawson wasn’t able to put away the penalty kick, though, firing it wide right.

Omar Sinclair righted that wrong in the 69th minute when he froze Greensall on a free kick from the top of the box that put DCFC up 5-2 and essentially ended all hope for Duluth.

AFC Ann Arbor escapes in dramatic fashion

Staring extra time in the face, Ann Arbor’s James Vaughan struck from just outside the penalty box on a free kick in the 91st minute to send his team through to the NPSL regional final on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Dayton Dynamo FC.

Top-seeded Ann Arbor dominated possession and chances in the first half, but Dayton was a game opponent in the second half, coming up just short of taking the lead on many occasions.

The tone of the game changed right from kickoff in the second half, as Dayton had a chance on a free kick of its own from just outside the box. That ball found the wall, but just a minute later, a corner kick was deflected just wide of the net off the head of a Dayton player.

The victory was the first postseason win in club history for Ann Arbor.

Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.