Welcome to the playoffs, people! Winner goes to the championship game, loser goes home. We'll break down the two matchups and the four teams playing in the semifinals on Saturday, April 15th, 2023.
The top of the pack in the NFPL Great Lakes feature Columbus Futsal Club and the defending champions Grand Rapids OLé. The two teams have met twice this season already, with Columbus Futsal taking 4 points and Grand Rapids OLé still looking for a win against the Ohio-based futsal club.
Both games have featured late, late goals scored by Columbus Futsal to tie or win the game, so we can expect a close match and both teams to fight until the very end. Grand Rapids OLé were able to secure a tie in the March 11th matchup.
The two teams are incredibly similar on paper: Columbus averages 6.0 goals per game, with OLé averaging 5.8. Grand Rapids have scored a total of 58 goals in 10 games this season, with Columbus scoring 54 in 9 games. Grand Rapids OLé can boast the stronger defense, allowing just 26 goals against compared to 39 for Columbus. The duel between the two goalkeepers will be a big one.
At Westwood Fieldhouse, Nachito Panda will be sure to fire up a great atmosphere and we're expecting a great game between two of the league's best futsal teams.
- Marcelo Matos - One of the best players in the NFPL this season, Matos leads the league in assists and has the ability to completely take over a game, dictating the pace and play from the base of the team while also providing the end product. He's got 10 goals and 13 assists on the season.
- Gui Karaoglan - Frequently found on the end of Matos's assists, Karaoglan has come on strong at the end of the season, chalking up 6 goals and 4 assists for 10 points in 5 games this season.
- Juliano Castilhos - He's popped up with some big goals this season, scoring 4 and assisting 4 in just 5 games played.
Grand Rapids OLé:
- Lito Esquivel - Team captain and leader in total points, he's got 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points in 9 games this season and is one of the best all-around players in the league.
- Sammy Esquivel - Brother to Lito, Sammy has exploded this season with 9 goals and 2 assists in 9 matches. He's scored some brilliant goals and been a key part in the OLé offense this season.
- Jeo Garcia - Leading the line for OLé, the pivo has 6 goals and 3 assists in 9 games and has been a handful for opposing defenses, holding the ball up well and bringing other players into the game, while also displaying a tough-to-stop, highly effective ability to turn and finish.
The top two teams from the Midwest have been FC Tryzub and Joy Athletic Club by some distance over the season. FC Tryzub ran the table, ending their season at a league-best 8-1-1. Their lone loss? Against Joy Athletic in an absolute deathmatch in Minnesota that ended at 10-9. A draw against Grand Rapids OLé at home closed out their season.
Joy Athletic were runners-up in last year's Championship match against the champions Grand Rapids OLé. For the past two seasons, Joy Athletic have stayed in the conversation for the top team in the league.
The last time Joy Athletic were in Chicago to take on FC Tryzub, they lost 9-3. If they can travel with their key players to Chicago, we're likely to have an incredible game on our hands.
With FC Tryzub averaging 8.4 goals per game and Joy Athletic averaging 8.9, we expect these two high-powered offenses to put numbers on the board.
- Igor Bych - Leads the league in scoring (19) and points (29), tied for second in assists (10). Had 3 goals and 3 assists in the last meeting with Joy Athletic.
- Denis Reveachin - Captain and heartbeat of the team, also tied for second in the league in assists with 10. Also had 3 goals and 3 assists in the last meeting.
- Bohdan Ruchka - Lethal frontman that makes the most of even slim chances - didn't play in the last game against Joy Athletic, and had two assists in the first meeting.
- Bennett Kouame - One of the league's top players and winner of the Golden Ball last season for best player. Has 18 points on the season - 11 goals and 7 assists.
- Griffin Price - A fantastic addition to the Joy Athletic lineup this season, Price is a Player of the Week winner and is tied for the third-highest scorer in the league with 11.
- Simeon Friesen - Links the team together with clean passing and drives the ball forward, capable of taking over games by himself. Has 7 goals and 3 assists on the season.
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