The 2013 NPSL season was one to remember for AFC Cleveland supporters, staff, and players alike. Yes, parts of the season were a bit like a roller coaster, but there were great moments on and off the field.
The biggest moment has to be claiming yet another piece of hardware for the AFC trophy case with the team winning the inaugural Presidential Cup.
AFC Cleveland continued to be a leader in the community, providing free soccer clinics and raising money for charities like the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. No one will ever forget the Terminal Tower going blue and white to support AFC Cleveland and the foundation.
“We faced a lot of challenges this season, but it was very rewarding to bring soccer back to downtown Cleveland,” Chairman Terry Lawriw stated.
“We look forward to entertaining soccer fans from NE Ohio for many years to come.”
There were never any shortages when it came to great performances. Several players stood out as leaders and talismans for the entire organization.
Vinny Bell, who led the team in scoring and was one of the most feared attackers in the Midwest Region, continued to be the playmaker the team yearned for. Goalkeeper Ben Yabrow was “Mr. Consistency” all season long and was named MVP by by the coaching staff. Yabrow will be sorely missed as he recently announced that this would be his final season as a Royal as he pursues a career outside of soccer.
Captain Carter Poe was voted MVP by the players themselves. Winning the honor was certainly justified as Poe was a difference maker in every game he played.
Sean Sikich earned a reputation as a hard-nosed defender that was among the best in the conference.
Simply put, great performances from great players gave the team great hope for a regional title and maybe even a national championship. Everyone believed that there was a real chance of AFC Cleveland advancing even further this season after a Cinderella season in 2012. That just wasn’t in the cards for the Royals as they were bounced out of the Great Lakes playoffs in a loss to rival Detroit City FC.
But the future is bright. A strong foundation of players are expected to return with many promising young playmakers ready to contribute as AFC Cleveland continues to have one of the strongest coaching staffs in the country thanks to the leadership of Andy Hoggarth and Aaron McGuiness.
“The atmosphere created at a number of stadiums such as ours in downtown Cleveland, Buffalo, and Detroit provides a great environment for players and coaches and is a testament to the ownership of the organizations and the fan groups that have been put together,” Hoggarth commented. “We will take a couple of weeks to recharge the batteries and then start the process of breaking the season down and planning how to come back better in 2014.”
The entire AFC Cleveland organization would like to thank its players, staff, volunteers, and sponsors for their incredible dedication to the team and its mission to promote the beautiful game.