Grand Rapids OLé are 2023/24 NFPL Champions!


Grand Rapids OLé are 2023/24 NFPL Champions!

The 2023/24 National Futsal Premier League season came to a close with an intense, physical, gritty, beautiful, highly-skilled match between Grand Rapids OLé and Colorado Futsal Academy. The match was an instant classic, with OLé coming from behind to win 5-3 in Detroit. Grand Rapids OLé are the 2023/24 NFPL Champions! 

Find the extended highlights from the match at the bottom of this article.

Recap: Grand Rapids OLé With The Comeback Victory to Win The Trophy

The top team in each division gave futsal fans an incredible match full of passion, drive, desire, and skill.

Grand Rapids came out of the gates slowly and it seemed like Colorado's intensity and speed took them by surprise. From the opening whistle, Colorado was applying pressure on defense and moving through the gears on offense, showing their quick feet and their eye for goal. 

Colorado turned their pressure into diamonds, scoring within the opening minute through their leading scorer Beckan Ovalles! A miscommunication and mistimed pass at the back or Grand Rapids resulted in Ovalles flicking a trademark chipped finish over Frankie Mendoza in net with little the goalkeeper could do about it. 

It wasn't long until they'd doubled their lead, taking a 2-0 advantage with still more than 15 minutes to play. An accurate throw from Colorado goalkeeper Jean Caro was expertly brought down by Enberth Padilla, who raced down the wing and tucked a lovely finish past Mendoza!

OLé were able to stem the bleeding and slowly they grew into the game. Some great defending from Colorado and misplaced finishes from Grand Rapids maintained that 2-0 scoreline for a long time, but not long enough.

Eventually it was Gabe Villagomez and Aaron Gamez (who else but these two?) combining to get a beautiful, crucial opening goal for OLé. Villagomez showed strength to collect an inbounds pass before turning his defender inside-out, putting in a delicious cross as Gamez ran unmarked behind the defense and scored from close range.

The traveling OLé support were making themselves heard and the on-court performance matched it as Grand Rapids continued to grow into the game. They found their tying goal from the same duo.

Gamez played one of the best assists of the entire season, splitting the Colorado defense with a perfectly-weighted pass for Villagomez to run onto and poke beyond Jean Caro first-time for a truly fantastic goal deserving of the NFPL Championship Match. Words don't do it justice, you'd have to watch it!

An intense, but level game went into the halftime break tied at 2 goals apiece - and the second half was insane.

It took nearly 10 minutes of frantic play to find our next goal, and it came as Diego Galan skinned Cesar Martinez down the sideline. Martinez pulled Galan back, collecting his second yellow and eliminating him from the remainder of the game! Colorado went up a man and made OLé in less than a minute.

With a lack of pressure, Emmanuel Vivas was able to line up a brilliant strike that hit off the post and in, flying past the outstretched arms of Andres Montes in goal. Colorado in the lead, 4-3 with under 10 minutes to play!

Despite scoring an incredible goal at a great moment, Colorado couldn't hold on to that advantage and credit to Grand Rapids OLé for not getting their heads down. Coach Fabian Rodriguez yelled from the sidelines, "we have time! We have time," although it didn't take them long.

Just under a minute later, OLé had it tied up. This time it was Diego Galan getting skinned as he dove into a pass that he couldn't quite reach. Sammy Esquivel opened up his hips and beat him down the line before finding Gamez for a simple tap in to score his second of the evening and tie the game at 3-3. 

That seemed to knock the wind out of Colorado's sails a bit. 5 minutes later, Colorado picked up a red card of their own. Sammy Esquivel found Lito Esquivel with an amazing pass up the spine of the court and Lito was put in one-on-one against the Colorado goalkeeper, only to be dragged down from behind by Beckan Ovalles for a straight red. 

OLé scored directly from the resulting free kick, with Sammy Esquivel running a fake before Gabe Villagomez hammered one through Caro to take their first lead of the game with 3:37 to play.

As we moved into the final minutes of play, Colorado threw everything forward. They came incredibly close through Enberth Padilla as he fashioned a shot from a tight angle that was well-saved by Andres Montes in goal. 

The resulting 2-on-1 counterattack resulted in Villagomez staring down Jean Caro with Vivas standing on the goal line behind his keeper. Diego Galan swooped in and violently chopped down Villagomez, getting none of the ball and earning an immediate red card from the officials. Check the full highlight here.

It took a few minutes to clear everything up, but eventually play resumed with a penalty kick for Grand Rapids OLé. The fans were chanting and up stepped Gabe Villagomez with the opportunity to put the game away. Off the floor and onto the scoreboard, Villagomez smashed it past Jean Caro to take a 5-3 lead and secure the Championship for Grand Rapids!

The celebrations were incredible and you can see how much it meant to the OLé players, a year after they'd lost by the same scoreline in Chicago to FC Tryzub. NFPL fans can find videos of the celebrations on our social media platforms listed at the bottom of this article!

That wraps up our coverage of the 2023/24 NFPL season! If you're reading this, thank you for following along and we look forward to bringing the best of American futsal the NFPL courts next season! Subscribe to our channels and social media accounts to stay tuned as there are always big updates between every season. 


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