NFPL Playoffs Semifinals Review
GRAND RAPIDS OLÉ 5-3 COLUMBUS FUTSAL
The first semifinal was played in Grand Rapids as Columbus Futsal came to town in the hunt for an NFPL Championship appearance. The opening minutes were exciting, with half-chances falling to both sides. It would be Columbus that would get on the scoreboard first through #10 Yul Illidge with 4 minutes played in the first half. A long ball played forward was trapped excellently by the Columbus pivo, and a fake shot pulled out the goalkeeper, allowing Illidge to chip brilliantly into the far corner. A truly excellent goal to start what would be a great game.
An immediate response from Grand Rapids came less than 10 seconds later, with #13 Jonathan Stout evening up the score, squeezing a shot past the goalkeeper from a tight angle.
With just under 15 to play, it was Illidge again for Columbus. A tackle on the Grand Rapids fixo pushed the ball back to the goalkeeper, and Illidge stuck him cleanly as well before passing into the empty net for a 2-1 lead.
Just a minute later, the game was tied again. A disguised pass from #22 Sammy Esquivel set #88 Lito Esquivel free behind the ala. His blasted shot went past the Columbus keeper's shoulder and into the top corner. The score was 2-2, with about 14 minutes to play in the first half.
OLé would take their first lead of the game with just under 5 minutes left in the first half. A turnover from Columbus led to a transition and a shot on goal, with #18 Chris Mendez collecting the rebound before firing into the far corner.
With 3:00 to play, a fast break from Grand Rapids put #22 Esquivel and #8 Cole Russell in behind the Columbus defense and baring down on the goal. Russell squared to Esquivel for a tap-in at the back post as OLé took a 4-2 lead into the halftime break.
After the break, it was Columbus sealing their own demise. #88 Esquivel with a tackle just 10 yards from goal created a scramble, and he was there to finish it from close range to take a 5-2 lead.
With more subs on the bench and their passing ability on full display, Grand Rapids OLé were able to wear down the visitors in the second half, holding them to just one final goal with 12:26 to play. #6 Denal Lopez pounced on a loose ball before smashing it past GK Miguel Cervantes from 20 yards.
Grand Rapids OLé move on to the 2022 NFPL Championship game, which will be played in Grand Rapids on Saturday, April 30th at 7pm.
JOY ATHLETIC 8-6 FUTSAL INDY
Futsal Indy made the trip north to Minnesota to take on #2 seed Joy Athletic in the second NFPL semifinal matchup. After 8 frenetic, scoreless minutes to start the match, it was Joy Athletic that would break the deadlock. #2 Lioul Minas latched onto a ball played across the face of goal to tap in at the back post, the assist coming from #3 Mario Corona.
Moments later, #3 Corono would turn from provider into goalscorer. An excellent first-time volleyed strike cannoned off the bottom of the crossbar and down into the goal after the loose ball fell to him.
Futsal Indy would keep it close with a goal in the 12th minute as #3 Devin Igo collected the ball off a tackle before drilling his finish into the top right corner. However, Joy Athletic punched back just moments later in the 13th to make the score 3-1 Joy. From out of bounds, #18 Si Fridsen played the ball to #10 Bennett Kouame, who's first-touch pass into the feet of pivo #12 Brian Kallman in front of the net became a back heel pass to Fridsen, who'd followed the play and was rewarded with a close-range finish at the back post.
Futsal Indy wouldn't back down though. With just 4 minutes left in the half, they found their second goal through #9 Peter Trofin's right-footed finish into the far corner after #7 Abdi Shariff had beat his man deep inside his own half and dribbled the length of the floor for a great assist.
Less than a minute later, the game was tied! #7 Shariff was first to a loose ball around midcourt and his pace allowed him to beat his defender and slot past the goalkeeper. The game would go into halftime with the score tied 3-3.
Joy Athletic came out quicker in the first half. In the first minute, #18 Fridsen had his second of the evening with a toe-poked finish past the goalkeeper's near post. They doubled their lead a minute later through #10 Kouame. After working the ball around, it was a give-and-go between Kouame and Fridsen that ended in Kouame unmarked at the back post to tap home.
4 minutes into the second half, Joy Athletic opened up a 3-goal lead, and it was Fridsen again. This time is was #22 Dimitri Nair providing a great penetrating assist for Fridsen to finish with his first touch, smashing it past the keeper into the far post for an all-around excellent goal.
The 26th minute provided two goals. #10 Ignacio Garcia scored a PK for Futsal Indy after a foul in the Joy Athletic box, and Joy's response was swift. Kouame collected the ball from his goalkeeper and dribbled past his man, collapsing the defense on his own before finding the open man. In this case, it was #3 Corono again, finishing from close range over the goalkeeper to make the score 7-4.
Both goalkeepers continued to make great saves on each end of the court until the 33rd minute. It was #18 Fridsen for his 4th goal of the night, poaching a loose ball and scoring to make the game 8-4 with under 7 minutes to play. Futsal Indy needed a miracle with their season on the line.
They would find the net two more times before the end of the game through #10 Garcia and #6 Jebril Mohamud, but it wasn't the miracle they were looking for. A two-goal lead for Joy made for a nervous finish, but they held on to take the win in front of the home fans.
Futsal Indy's playoff run and season come to a close, while Joy Athletic move on to the 2022 NFPL Championship Game against Grand Rapids.
A LOOK AT THE UPDATED PLAYOFF BRACKET...
THE NFPL Season Comes to an End...
The 2022 NFPL Championship Game is this weekend!
Saturday, April 30th, at 7:00 PM at MSA Sports Spot
Grand Rapids OLé vs. Joy Athletic
Follow along and stay tuned here and on the National Futsal Premier League social platforms for our Playoff Semifinals preview and more!