2022/23 NFPL Southwest Championship Review
Brusa FC defeated New Mexico Flagship FC 9-3 in the NFPL Southwest Championship game in front of a home crowd in Arizona.
Brusa FC jumped out to a 6-1 lead by the halftime break, creating a gap between the two teams that Flagship could not bridge despite a much-improved second-half performance.
An early goal from Jonnathan Segura set the tone, playing a full-field give-and-go with Christian Lima before slotting the ball beyond Morales in net. Three minutes later, they'd doubled their advantage as Joey Fuller stripped a Flagship defender of the ball and found Micah Vasey open at the back post to tap in.
A clearance off the Brusa FC goal line blocked off a chance at their end, moments before Zach Alhajjaji raced in and capitalized on a one-on-one situation against Jorge Morales in goal for Flagship, taking a 3-0 after just 9 minutes played in front of the home fans.
Poor pressing from the visitors gave Brusa an opening to swiftly counterattack, resulting in Garrett Bauer finding Alhajjaji alone at the back post to tap in for his second of the evening. It was 4-0 to Brusa and they continued to pile on the pressure as Segura's delightful chip knocked against the post and fell out of bounds.
A New Mexico chance went begging, slipping just past the post. However, they took advantage of the resulting corner as Pedro Torres sent a missile into the top left side netting, an easy Goal of the Month contender from the Flagship attacker that made the score 4-1 with 6 minutes to play in the half.
Unfortunately, it didn't get better for the visitors after that. Two more goals for Brusa FC before halftime felt like hammerblows to the visitors. An easy counterattack resulted in a 3-on-1 situation, and then a 2-on-none scenario as Segura's ball across found Vasey to poke into the bottom corner.
With under 3 to play, Alhajjaji secured his first-half hat trick, a true poacher's goal as he thumped in a rebound from close range after Segura's free kick was initially saved. The first half could hardly have gone better for the home side as they jubilantly went into the halftime break with a big lead that their play truly deserved.
Although the second half was better for Flagship, giving up an early goal once again started them off on the wrong foot. A quickly-taken kick-in caught the entire Flagship defense off guard and Vasey's shot from a narrow angle wriggled in to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
Nonetheless, Flagship would respond. Torres, their brightest player all night, made his way down the right flank and found Mehrshad Ahmadi alone at the back post to knock in. Brusa would keep them at arms length, though, with a goal coming from Sebastian Ladini scoring from close range after Segura had sliced through the visitor's defenders.
The Flagship response was swift with a goal from Bryan Rivas, but they had met the end of the road. Joey Fuller thumped in an emphatic strike into the top shelf moments later to make the game 9-3 for Brusa FC.
Unfortunately, the game was called with over 6 minutes left to play as players and fans got involved in altercations on and off the court after a series of heavy challenges and red cards.
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