Believe! Cleveland Crunch caps comeback to pro indoor soccer with M2 championship!
WICHITA, Kansas -- In the end, the Cleveland Crunch left little doubt who had the best team in Major Arena Soccer League 2 this season.
After rolling Amrillo 12-6 to reach the M2 Championship Game, the Crunch had little trouble Sunday in dispatching the host Wichita Wings, 11-6, to claim the city's fourth ever indoor soccer crown.
The Crunch won three National Professional Soccer League titles in the 1990s, but the city has been without a pro indoor team since the original Crunch ceased operations two decades ago.
Goalkeeper Marijo Musa was named the winner of the first-ever Chico Borja MVP award, given to the M2 playoffs most valuable player. Wichita took 28 shots on goal, with Musa credited with 14 saves.
Musa was part of an overall strong Crunch defense that held MASL stars Frank and Uzi Tayou, James Togbah, VcMor Eligwe, Nelson Santana and Mitchell Cardenas largle in check over the two games this past weekend.
After giving up a goal just over a minute into the game, Cleveland rallied with four unanswered scores to take a 4-1 lead midway through the second -- two by Admir Suljevic who had four goals and an assist on the night -- and the Wings never got closer than three goals the rest of the evening.
Mike Dezeric had two goals and two assists, while the Crunch got single scores from Tom Beck, Kevin Blackwood, Dave Jordan, Sami Mutemwa and Smith Pepper.
"The Crunch left little doubt who our 2021 champions would be," Commissioner Chris Economides said. "It was an impressive performance by a new franchise that has done a ton of things right all season long. We knew right from Day One that they would be a strong franchise -- there is a great history and rabid fan base for the sport in northeast Ohio as their sellout home games would indicate -- but I'm not sure any of us anticipated just how good they would become. Hats off to them for a great performance, and to Wichita and its fans for hosting a fantastic weekend of indoor soccer."
Kevin Ten Eyck had two goals for the Wings, who also got markers from Franck Tayou, Togbah, David Luccio and Jared Robbins. Wichita, who came into the weekend as the playoff's No. 1 seed, was playing for its first ever indoor soccer championship, despite an iconic 40 year history of the sport.
The Wings finished the season with a record of 9-4, while the Crunch finished at 9-3.
"This is the kind of weekend that lays a great foundation for the future of the sport, not only with these two tremendous franchises, but for M2 overall," Deputy Commissioner Andrew Ross added. "By next season, we will more than double the number of teams in the league, which will raise the level of competition to new heights and expose the sport to fans in prior indoor soccer markets and new ones as well."