By Nick Flores/NPSL.com
FC Motown has reached the 2022 NPSL National Championship after an incredible season of success. The New Jersey club finished the regular season as Keystone Conference champions with a record of 7-1-2 and have been in superb goal scoring form in the playoffs as well.
The club is most recently coming off of an incredible comeback which included late drama in the NSPL National Semifinals against Tulsa Athletic. With Tulsa holding a 1-0 lead late into the last few minutes of the match, FC Motown was able to pull off one of the best comebacks in NPSL playoff history.
In the 85th minute Coby Handy, who was subbed on in the second half, was able to find the back of the net to get his side level with Tulsa and from there the momentum shifted drastically. Not even five minutes later Joe Holland got the goal which sealed the 2-1 victory for Motown.
“I had a lot of confidence that we were going to be able to fight until the end,” FC Motown GM Gregory Irwin said. “When we scored the first, I knew we were going to be able to get the second in regulation.”
As if the buzz of advancing to the NPSL National Championship wasn’t enough, the team will also be hosting the final at the MSU Soccer Park as well.
“It’s insane,” Irwin said. “There’s a buzz I mean having phone calls all day, setting things up, and it’s such a buzz for the staff and the players. To be getting a lot of recognition heading into the game is great because this is where the club wants to be at, these are the types of expectations we have. To be here is an awesome achievement.”
Now that Motown is looking ahead to the final against Crossfire Redmond, they are hoping to continue their run of success in memory of former player Sainclair Tueno.
Tueno was a beloved member of the squad who recently passed away in March.
“Our entire goal was dedicating this run (to him),” Irwin said. “Our run was predicated off of everything for him and everything from that has been incredible, it’s really been a great season and experience. He was such a great person before a great teammate, and we’ve just been dedicating everything to him.”
It is no easy task to reach the NPSL National Championship, and defender Jean Voltaire acknowledges this. The center back feels the team did not start as quickly as they would have liked but eventually got into good form as the season went on due to their drive to fight for Tueno.
“We started the season slow but we kept fighting and fighting,” Voltaire said. “We have only one goal and that’s to fight for Sainclair. We said we’re going to win the championship for him, and now we’re in the final so now we have to make it for him.”
Voltaire and Motown are all the more motivated with the fact that they will be hosting the match which they feel gives them a boost of confidence. Every team wants to play in front of their home fans, and Voltaire feels there will be more in the stands than usual for this weekend’s match.
“I think Saturday there’s going to be a lot of people,” Voltaire said. “Friends, family, everyone. I know if we win then it’s going to be really fun over there.”
A win on Saturday would mean a lot both to the club and the community as the home fans would potentially get to celebrate both the win and the life of Tueno as well. The club and community have been bonded together through Tueno, and it would hold great meaning if they were to come out as champions.
“It’s been something really binding,” Irwin said. “When it first happened there was a ton of support to the club, and we were able to give that support to his family. He was such an incredible person so everything we’ve been through has been really dedicated to the type of person he was. Everything we’ve been trying to do has been to try and emulate his memory.”
FC Motown will face Crossfire Redmond in the 2022 NPSL National Championship on Saturday evening with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 pm Eastern. Tickets are $10 at the gate with kids under the age of 14 free.
Photo Credit: Lori Scholl/NPSL.com