OLé Advances to The NFPL Finals!
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.