The United Dairy Industry of Michigan (UDIM) is proud to announce the winner of the inaugural Michigan Milk Cup. Frontrunner throughout the competition, Association Football Club Ann Arbor have been named the 2017 Milk Cup Champions.
Melissa Gerharter, Manager of Sport Nutrition Marketing for UDIM said, “The Michigan Dairy Farmers were so excited to be able to partner with Michigan teams in the National Premier Soccer League with the inaugural Michigan Milk Cup. We see it as a great way to bring awareness to the hardworking, local farm families bringing Michigan milk to tables across the state. It’s also a chance to make athletes aware of how a healthy diet can support their performance on the field. Congratulations to AFC Ann Arbor for working hard and earning the Michigan Milk Cup!”
In not only the Milk Cup, AFC Ann Arbor and rival club Lansing United both jumped out to fast starts climbing neck and neck in the early stages of the NPSL season. The clubs split 6 points evenly on two meetings in the 2017 season.
Lansing United solidified its bid as a NPSL contender with a decisive 2-0 victory over table leading AFC Ann Arbor on May 26th awarding 3 points to the capital city’s side.
In a rematch played on July 1st, Lansing United had an opportunity to change the outlook of the NPSL season with a road result. This time AFC used its home pitch advantage to secure a narrow 1-0 victory over Lansing. In what was a stellar 3/4ths of a 2017 campaign for Lansing United many point to July 1st as he turning point for late season slide.
The first meeting between Lansing United and Milk Cup Champion, AFC Ann Arbor is the only 2017 loss for “The Mighty Oak” to date. Ann Arbor have taken 3 points from every other Milk Cup fixture in what has proved to be a dominate 2017 campaign. A perceived upset and documented heartbreaker on July 7th saw Milk Cup competitor, Michigan Stars answer a stoppage time equalizer by Lansing (1-1) with a 90+ minute winner following a physical play in Berkley, MI awarding the 2-1 victory for Stars.
Though AFC Ann Arbor sat idle over the weekend, the 3 points earned by Michigan Stars nailed the possible Milk Cup points remaining for Lansing United under the current mark of 15 points earned by AFC Ann Arbor. Late season runs by Kalamazoo FC and Grand Rapids FC could end in second place finishes, but possible points remaining for all clubs cannot exceed Ann Arbor’s current standing.
With 3 total Michigan Milk Cup fixtures remaining, 2 dates involve The Mighty Oak of AFC Ann Arbor which proves just how amazing the performance by AFC Ann Arbor has been in 2017. Having clinched the Cup, AFC AA was given the option to receive the award in Grand Rapids on July 14th but declined and instead opted to receive the award at home on Monday evening, July 17th for the final Ann Arbor home match of the season.
GM Bilal Saeed added, “As our club is excited for the opportunity to raise the first ever Milk Cup, Coach Rudland and his group have another accomplishment on the line with the match this Friday. Our guys are focused on Grand Rapids and points on the line.”
With a result in Ann Arbor’s match vs. Milk Cup competitor GRFC, AFC can secure their first ever Great Lakes Division crown and improve their potential seeding in the NPSL playoff. Saeed also added, “We’re excited to share this award with our home fans on Monday but we still have a lot to play for, so our focus is on finishing the season strong and securing the No.1 seed for the Midwest Region Playoffs. Congrats to our staff and the 30 plus men that have represented our club in 2017 for this recognition.”
Grand Rapids FC, among many other highlights to their match experience, will be honoring their two of their community’s Featured Farmers at the Houseman Field on Friday Night. AFC Ann Arbor will accept and raise the first ever Michigan Milk Cup on Monday, July 17th for their final home match of the season vs Michigan Stars FC.
In a point system decided among the 5 participating clubs, AFC Ann Arbor will be the Milk Cup Champions regardless of upcoming results in the fixtures remaining. Whether or not AFC Ann Arbor is the best club in the state of Michigan is something to be discussed by those who followed the Michigan Milk cup and NPSL Great Lakes Division in 2017. With that said, this competition was created to add to the growing love for the game of soccer in this state, recognize some of dairy industries amazing producers, identify chocolate milk as nature’s most effective sports drink and most importantly provide a credential to clubs in pursuit of boasting the title as Michigan’s top team.
When asked about success of the cup in its first year, Gerharter added, “This partnership has been gratifying because it’s given us the chance to reach a big group of young athletes, and hopefully inspire them to think about how they’re choosing to fuel their bodies.”