By Shelly Watkins
The Michigan Stars FC and Grand Rapids FC battled to a 1-1 draw at Hurley Field in Berkley Friday Night. The Stars split the points with last year’s Great Lakes Western Conference champions, their second draw in the young season.
“One thing I definitely know is that it’s hard to get points in this league,” said Coach Morris Lupenec. “There won’t be an easy game for us, but you’re not going to win the league or be in the top-shelf of the league if you keep tying games.”
Tied 0-0 after a back-and-forth 45 minutes, the Stars struck first with a goal four minutes into the second half. Forward Nebojsa Popovic flicked the ball past a defender and beat Grand Rapids goalkeeper Noah Fazekas to take the lead. Defender Jamie Carey-Morrell assisted on the goal.
Grand Rapids levelled the score 1-1 at 76:00 on a goal from midfielder Jacob Love on a pass from Greg Timmer.
You always go into games looking for three points and we got the goal we needed in the second half,” said Lupenec. “In the next 15 minutes we had a couple of chances to put the game away but they were a tough team.”
Forward Elliott Collier provided the Star’s best chance in the first half after a 30-yard solo drive, beating several opponents before shooting just wide of the goal. Minutes later, Collier combined with forward Eric McWoods on a give-and-go that resulted in another shot wide.
On the defensive end, Stars goalkeeper Anthony Mwembia redeemed himself after committing a hand ball for crossing the goal box just after halftime. On a tough direct free kick by Kosti Moni that penetrated the Stars wall, Mwembia came up with a big save and adding momentum to the match.
“It’s all about getting better,” said Lupenec. “I think we were better today than we were last game and we played a quality opponent in last year’s champs. The boys played well; they gave a good effort.”
Grand Rapids outshot the Stars 11-6. Mwembia had five saves on the day while Fazekas provided three.
The Michigan Stars Man of the Match was awarded to midfielder Kyle Thompson.
The Stars (0-0-2) take the show on the road Sunday as they travel to Lafayette, IN, to take on Indiana FC.
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