2022/23 Matchweek 18 Review
New Mexico Flagship FC were down, but never out as they came from behind to tie against Colorado Futsal Academy 7-7 in Matchweek 18. The draw secured a second-place regular season finish and booked a spot in the NFPL Southwest Championship game at the expense of CFA.
New Mexico Flagship FC 7-7 Colorado Futsal Academy
These two teams were incredibly evenly-matched and a draw was probably a fair result, although Colorado will undoubtedly be regretting the opportunity to close out the game from two winning positions late in the second half.
The opening minutes were a stalemate as Jorge Morales and Juan Carlos Caro both came up big to prevent goals on either side. Nonetheless, New Mexico Flagship wouldn't be kept at bay for too long. Alexander Romero opened the scoring after 5 minutes played, nodding in from close range after Morales made the initial save but couldn't parry it out of play.
After another minute of sustained pressure, NMFSFC made it 2-0. Gerardo Garcia's intercepted pass found Julian Bustamante and his turn and footwork gave him the space he needed to drill a shot into the bottom right corner for his 6th goal of the season.
Davinson Diaz had another massive game for Colorado Futsal Academy and it was his efforts that kept the game tight for Colorado. His first goal came from a well-taken set piece about halfway through the first half and moments later he doubled their lead with an incredible bit of skill, flicking it over the defender and volleying into the net for a surefire Goal of the Month contender.
However, NMFSFC captain Isai Rivas would bury a penalty 15 seconds later to regain the advantage for the home side, going up 3-2 with just under 9 minutes to play in the first half.
With under 4 to play, Flagship regained their 2-goal advantage. Romero's lovely pass forward was well-controlled by Bryan Rivas, and his volleyed finish was as good or better than the pass as they took a 4-2 lead.
As the fouls accumulated, so did the penalties. Caro was equal to Rivas's penalty taken late in the half, making a big save to keep the lead at 2 and with under a minute to play, Caro was the one lining up to take a penalty at the other end, firing past Morales to go into the half with the score at 4-3.
That goal would be pivotal for Colorado as they built some momentum into the second half, scoring after just 3:40 to tie the game. A corner was taken by Anderson Garlen and somehow slipped through numerous sets of legs, reaching the other side of the court where Jorge Castellanos was there to score yet another big goal for CFA this season.
Chasing the win, Colorado risked Caro going forward and much of the second half was played with a frenetic pace and open style that could have gone either way. For a time, it looked as if it would go Colorado's way. Having come back from two down, they would go two goals up with under 10 minutes to play.
Who else but Davinson Diaz? Nicking the ball off Isai Rivas in a perilous position, his shot squeaked through Morales to hit the back of the net and take the lead and earn his hat trick. The second goal came as Castellanos found Enberth Padilla running openly through the middle, a scooped pass taken off the chest and delicately chipped beyond the keeper - another lovely goal from the traveling Colorado Futsal Academy.
Two goals down, playoff spot in jeopardy, season on the line, under 7 minutes to play - a mountain to climb for New Mexico Flagship.
And climb it, they did. Alexander Romero was allowed to dribble and dribble all the way up the court as CFA backed off too far. His free look at goal was punched past Caro in net with 5:30 to play as the scoreboard read 6-5 in favor of the visitors.
A minute later, they'd tied it at 6-6. Isai Rivas made up for past mistakes with an excellent bit of play in the center, turning on the ball and finding Pedro Torres in one fluid motion at the back post and his calm finish into the far post beyond Caro tied the game.
As we slipped beneath the 5-minute mark, Colorado took the lead once more. A nice pass from Diaz across goal found Padilla at the back post and his subsequent pass to Garlen presented him with a tap-in to go up 7-6.
The time ticked down and New Mexico were still searching for the equalizer as we entered the last minute. Caro lined up to take another penalty and hit it wide, a mistake that would prove to be fatal. With 29 seconds on the clock, a free kick at the other end gave New Mexico Flagship goalkeeper Jorge Morales the chance to be a hero as he scored the game-tying goal!
It was bedlam in the arena as NMFS players rushed to mob Morales and fans exploded into cheers. A final chance for Colorado Futsal Academy went begging as Morales' late goal proved to be the decisive one, earning New Mexico Flagship a spot in the NFPL Southwest Championship match with Colorado Futsal Academy's late-season run falling just short in the final moments.
THE NFPL RETURNS...
With the NFPL Southwest Championship match! Brusa FC will host New Mexico Flagship FC on Saturday, April 29th as the NFPL season comes to a complete finish with a champion crowned in the Southwest Conference.