By Nicky Wolcott/NPSL.com
Tulsa Athletic were able to hold on for a 1-0 win at CCBC Essex over FC Baltimore Christos. The win takes Tulsa Athletic to its first-ever NPSL national championship match and ends FC Baltimore Christos’ undefeated season.
Tulsa Athletic had the ball in the back of the net in the second minute, but it was called back for Aaron Ugbah being in an offside position.
Tulsa Athletic turned its early pressure into a lead in the 15th minute. Joe Garcia’s powerful free kick could only be parried away by FC Baltimore Christos goalkeeper Mike Zierhoffer, and Romulo Bosquiero was there to put in the rebound and give Tulsa Athletic the lead.
FC Baltimore Christos almost tied it up in the 39th minute after Ben Stitz was played in behind Tulsa’s defense, but his shot was well saved by goalkeeper Bryson Reed.
Tulsa Athletic held a 1-0 lead at halftime after a strong start, but FC Baltimore Christos grew into the game in the latter stages of the first half and carried that momentum into the second half.
One of FC Baltimore Christos’ best chances of the match came in the 52nd minute. Jamie Merriam met a great cross from Danny Baxter on the volley, but his strike went just wide of the far post.
FCBC continued to apply pressure and almost scored off an Alejandro Albelaez free kick in the 85th minute, however Reed produced a great save to keep it at 1-0.
Despite all the pressure and producing four shots on target in the second half to Tulsa’s one, FC Baltimore Christos was unable to find a goal and Tulsa Athletic ran out 1-0 winners, sending the club to its first-ever NPSL national championship match.
Tulsa Athletic head coach Levi Coleman was pleased with his team’s performance and their accomplishment.
“It’s rewarding,” Coleman said. “It’s a super exciting time. We all wanted to win it all when we set out to do it, so we’re on track for what our goals were. That’s the rewarding part, us as a team are getting a lot of stuff done together and it’s a good feeling.”
As the pressure mounted at the end of the game Tulsa’s defense was able to prevent FCBC from finding an equalizer. Coleman was proud but not surprised of what his back line was able to accomplish.
“I’m proud, I’m not surprised though,” Coleman said. “Our last several games these guys have dug deep, been a family, and left it out on the field for each other. It was kind of another day at the office for them in terms of just getting the job done.”
The loss for FC Baltimore Christos ends its undefeated season, with the team suffering its first NPSL loss at home since the 2018 Mid-Atlantic Conference Final, when FCBC lost 2-1 to FC Frederick.
Tulsa Athletic extended its unbeaten run to 11 games, and the green and yellow will look to make it 12 as it travels to Denton Diablos FC on Saturday, August 7th in the NPSL national championship match.
Photo Credit: Sean Maslin/NPSL.com