Rapids eliminated in NISL Playoff semifinal
By: Alex Husting
The inaugural season of the Columbus Rapids, the first professional indoor soccer team in the city since 1997, has come to an end. The Rapids Men led going into the fourth quarter but the Americans took control and defeated Columbus 7-6. The Rapids Women were able to cut the deficit to one in the third quarter, but could not complete the comeback and fell to the Rome Gladiators 5-2.
The Rapids Men’s season was up-and-down, but they had momentum as they traveled to Fayetteville to take on the Memphis Americans in the NISL semifinal. They started the match with that momentum, but the Rapids could not sustain it and were defeated.
Akolade Gbadebo was the hero of Friday night’s overtime thriller and he picked up right where left off against Memphis, finding the back of the net and giving the Rapids a 1-0 lead.
The Americans tied the match shortly after but then Thomas Eskew took it right back and the Rapids led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a defensive battle for the first 13 minutes until Corey Adamson broke the drought and tied the match one again for Memphis. The tie would not last long, however, and Roger Castellano found the back of the net and took the lead back and into the locker room.
Coming out of the locker room, Memphis tied the match once again, this time under a minute into the third quarter.
Manny Chavez responded for Columbus as the back-and-forth continued between these two teams. It was his first goal of the match and gave the Rapids a 4-3 lead.
Niall Torricelli extended the lead for Columbus when he passed the ball off of the wall and to himself to score his first goal of the match and make it 5-3 in favor of the Rapids.
The Americans would close the gap with a goal shortly after, but Columbus led 5-4 going into the fourth quarter.
The Americans responded once again and with 11:12 remaining in the match, these teams were tied 5-5.
Memphis kept the pressure on and Bernardo Ferreira found the back of the net for the third time today, giving Memphis a 6-5 lead.
The Rapids needed a response and they got one from Manny Chavez, his second of the match and tied it up once again, this time at 6-6 with 2:26 remaining.
After going on the attack with time winding down, the Rapids lost possession and Memphis found the open man down the pitch and Cesar Ramirez, with time expiring, hit the game winner and sent the Americans to the first ever NISL Championship game.
The Rapids Women entered the playoffs on the heels of a dominant 8-1 victory over the Rome Gladiators in the regular season finale. The only obstacle between Columbus and the NISL Championship game was Rome.
The Rapids were unable to carry the momentum from the regular season finale to the playoffs and after falling behind in the first quarter, were unable to recover. The Gladiators are heading to the NISL championship game after defeating Columbus 5-2.
Rome came out of the locker room with a game plan and they executed it perfectly in the first quarter, scoring three times in the first 15 minutes.
Down 3-0, Columbus locked down defensively, holding the Gladiators to no goals in the second and third quarters. As the defense held strong, the offense needed to find holes in the Rome defense.
Emily Burke broke the scoring drought for Columbus with 55 seconds remaining in the first half, and the Rapids trailed Rome 3-1 as both teams headed to the locker room.
The Rapids stayed on the attack in the third quarter and they were able to cut the lead to one late in the third quarter. With 4:55 remaining in the third quarter, Maddy Peterson found the back of the net, giving Columbus all of the momentum putting all of the pressure on Rome.
With their backs against the walls, the Gladiators’ defense shut out the Rapids in the fourth quarter and on the offensive end they went back on the attack. They scored twice in the fourth quarter, including the second goal coming with 1:20 remaining that put the match out of reach for Columbus.
The NISL Championship will be broadcast live on the NISL Youtube channel on Sunday. The Women’s championship is set to kick off at 12 p.m. EDT while the Men’s championship is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. EDT. As for the Rapids, they will go enter the offseason and prepare for the second season of the NISL.
ABOUT NATIONAL INDOOR SOCCER LEAGUE (NISL):
The National Indoor Soccer League, which has its league office in Georgia, was founded in January 2021 by a group of experienced sports team/league owners with over 40 years of ownership experience. The NISL has plans to grow the league nationally within the next three years and will kick off its inaugural season in December 2021. The league will operate a Men's & Women's division with each market fielding both teams. Fans will be able to watch a men’s and women’s game each gameday. For more information, go to nislpro.com.