Appalachian FC secures 3-2 victory in final home game of inaugural season


Andy McLean

Former App State soccer player Kelvin Mulinya celebrates after putting Appalachian FC on top 1-0 in the first half. Mulinya finished the game with one goal and one assist in his second start at home.

Alex Urquiza, Reporter

Appalachian FC beat Georgia Storm SA 3-2 at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex July 3, securing their fourth consecutive win in Boone. 

“It’s amazing. Just doing it in front of the crowd is massive for us,” head coach Dale Parker said. “The message was loud and clear from day one that we wanted to get three points. Whenever there are three points on the table, we want to win them, especially at home.” 

The two sides faced each other again after a 0-0 draw in Carrollton, Georgia, on June 11, but the Black and Gold welcomed Georgia Storm with an ecstatic home crowd. The Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex has become a fortress for Appalachian FC, with more than 1,100 fans in attendance on July 3 for the Black and Gold’s final home game of the inaugural season. 

Appalachian FC nearly took the lead early in the first half, failing to capitalize on several set pieces, one of the club’s biggest strengths this season.

In the 35th minute, AFC forward Angelo Fabricio won the ball in the midfield and lobbed it over the top to forward Jeremiah Louma. Louma had a one on one chance with the Georgia Storm keeper, who came out and cleared the ball, colliding with Louma. 

AFC midfielder Kelvin Mulinya received the ball and took a long-range shot on an empty goal as the former App State men’s soccer player gave the Black and Gold the lead. AFC held onto their 1-0 lead by Mulinya as they headed into the second half.

In the 56th minute, AFC left back Thieryy Van Den Bergh took the corner kick as right back Alex Render headed the ball into the net, giving the hosts a two-goal lead.  

Georgia Storm continued to attack the Black and Gold defense and was awarded a penalty in the 70th minute. Storm forward Andrew Carleton fired the penalty into the top right corner, cutting the lead in half. 

Carleton’s penalty inspired his side to continue to pressure the AFC defense, and in the 80th minute, their resilience was paid for as Steven Bivens scored the equalizer off the counterattack. 

Five minutes after the Georgia Storm scored the equalizer, AFC substitute Nick Rodgers racked up the game-winner from long range. Mulinya assisted Rodgers with the goal as the two App State men’s soccer alumni teamed up to score the winner. 

“It’s great. It felt like old times,” Rodgers said. “Half of the former App State team was along the fence. I ran straight to them (after scoring the winner).”

The visitors thought they nicked a point getting an equalizer in the final 10 minutes, but the home crowd’s buzzing support continued to show why the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex has become a difficult place for opposing sides to play.

 “There’s moments away from home in the last 10 to 15 minutes that we suffered, and we struggled to get through it,” Parker said. “I think playing at home is such a massive advantage for the boys when it is not going well. Here, there is a big crowd behind them, and I think that’s one of the big reasons we got that third goal tonight.”

Mulinya had a standout performance for the Black and Gold as the midfielder grabbed a goal and an assist in his second home start. 

“It was amazing. We had to finish strong for the final game at home, and also we had to surprise our fans and give them a big win to celebrate the season,” Mulinya said. “It feels great to have fans come out and support us. Actually, that was a big boost to show us love and support. That keeps us going every day giving our best.”

Appalachian FC qualified for the semi-finals in the Southeast Conference playoffs, finishing third in the conference. 

“A lot of people have asked me that ‘ah you must be happy you finished third place,’ but actually I feel like we left points out there,” Parker said. “From an overall perspective, it’s great we finished third with a brand new club, brand new team, we are in the playoffs. We are in the chance to compete for a semi-final, but I always want more.” 

Appalachian FC will host their final game in Boone on July 21 against Chattanooga FC, closing the first chapter of the club’s history.