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Semifinals Team Preview: Michigan Bucks

07/28/2016, 5:00pm EDT
By PDL Staff

Two-time PDL Champions looking for second title in three years

The Michigan Bucks will host one of two PDL National Semifinals on Saturday, taking on Southern Conference Championship winner Midland/Odessa Sockers FC.

The Central Conference Champions will play Sockers FC at 7:30 p.m. ET from the Ultimate Soccer Arenas. The Bucks won the 2016 Central Conference Championship by knocking out the Des Moines Menace, 2-0, in the final five days ago.

The Bucks boast four players, including midfielder Adam Najem and defender Alhassan Abubakar, in the fifth edition of the 2016 PDL Top Prospects list.

"We have assembled what may be the most talented team in PDL history as far as potential for future MLS players, and we have one of the best coaches in the country that has this team prepared for whatever team we face in the final four," Bucks Owner Dan Duggan said.

"It will be hard to improve much defensively because we have yet to give up a goal at home in ten games this season and have only surrendered seven goals all year. Offensively, we can score from anywhere on the field, so we just have to be patient and take what they give us but at the same time play with a intense sense of urgency."

2016 Record: 12-2 (1st in the Great Lakes Division)

Head Coach: Demir Muftari

2016 PDL Playoffs: The Bucks defeated the Thunder Bay Chill, 3-0, in the Central Conference Championship semifinals at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Michigan. They then defeated the Des Moines Menace, 2-0, in the final.

Top Performers: The Bucks are led by a number of attacking talents, including the University at Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone, Benjamin Fitzpatrick and Andre Landell. The trio combined to score 30 of the team’s 45 goals during the season.

Cicerone has two goals thus far in the PDL Playoffs, while the University of Akron’s Najem has also shined in 2016. The midfielder is ranked ninth in the latest edition of the PDL Top Prospects list, providing nine assists and scoring one goal during the season. Defender Alhassan Abubakar is ranked fourth in the latest Top Prospects list, helping the team earn 11 shutouts in both regular-season and postseason play. Goalkeeper Drew Shepherd earned nine starts during the regular season, claiming shutouts in seven of those games.

History: The Bucks began play in 1996, and they have won two PDL Championships since then. The most recent title was won in 2014, while the club has won 12 Great Lakes Division regular-season titles.

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Tag(s): NEWS  Central Conference  Great Lakes Division  Michigan Bucks  Features  Central Conference  Great Lakes Division