Cleveland City Stars News Release - www.clevelandcitystars.com
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
PONTIAC, MI -- The Cleveland City Stars made the trek north into Michigan today and continued to play well away from home with a 2-1 victory over the Michigan Bucks (PDL) in the opening round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The night did not start so well for the City Stars as a misplayed ball led directly to the Bucks goal in only the fourth minute of play. With both teams still trying to settle into the flow of the game, the Cleveland defense played a ball back to Hunter Gilstrap when the ball to an unexpected bounce over the foot of the goalkeeper. Gilstrap could only manage to get a tap on the ball before Ty Shipalane played it into the net for a 1-0 Bucks lead.
"It was a tough goal to give up. We played it back and then it hopped right over my foot and I could only get a piece of it before they got to it," said Gilstrap "It wasn't the way we wanted to start out but our guys did a great job of sticking together. Nobody was pointing any fingers and we just hung in there and played together."
Cleveland's fortunes changed after the goal as the Stars were on the attack for the remainder of the first half. In the 23rd minute Neil Hlavaty found the foot of Floyd Franks who responded with a bullet past the Michigan keeper for a 1-1 tie.
In the 34th minute, Franks was on the other side of Cleveland's goal. The play started with a run up the left side from Luke Williams before he crossed it over to Franks on the right sideline. Franks controlled the ball in stride and attacked into the heart of the Bucks defense before placing a beautiful cross to the awaiting Neil Hlavaty who headed the ball in for a 2-1 Cleveland lead.
"That was a great play. Luke won the ball and brought it into our half from the left mid and found Floyd with a nice ball," said Hlavaty. "Floyd put a perfect ball right onto my head and all I had to do was put it in. The whole field opened up right before me because he drew so many defenders."
After controlling the ball for the entire first half and staying on the attack, Cleveland played back in its own end during the second half to protect its lead. Gilstrap recovered quickly from the first half mishap to anchor an impressive defensive showing for the City Stars.
With the victory Cleveland advances to face the Minnesota Thunder (USL-1) on June 24th in Minnesota.
"Obviously its a goal of ours to do well in the Open Cup," said Hlavaty. "Today was a great start for us towards meeting our goal. We had a tough draw at their place and we were down early, but we rallied together and came back with a strong showing."
It is the second year in a row that Cleveland won its U.S. Open Cup first round match against a PDL team. Last season the City Stars were victorious in a 4-0 game against the Kansas City Brass.
"It's great to win in the Open Cup but we had a great start last year too," said Gilstrap. "We're happy with the win but we can't look too far ahead to the next leg. Its hard to stay focused on the Open Cup and the regular season, so we're just going to concentrate on our upcoming league matches this week."
The City Stars conclude a six game road trip this weekend with Crystal Palace Baltimore on Friday at 7:30 pm and Pittsburgh on Saturday at 7:05 pm.
"This is another big weekend for us," said General Manager Mark Geissbauer. "Crystal Palace is a huge game in the standings and then we finish off the weekend with our rivals in Pittsburgh. So far we're 2-0 against the Riverhounds and we had another big win today in Michigan. I think the team has shown that we come out motivated against our rivals and I think we're holding up the flag for Cleveland pretty well."