The 2017 NPSL National Championship powered by Mitre is set and will feature the Elm City Express and Midland-Odessa FC.
Both semifinal winners will face off in New Haven, CT on Saturday, August 12. The winner will have the privilege to call themselves national champions.
For both clubs, they both set expectations to be here and now can make a mere dream become reality.
For Midland-Odessa’s Andrew Moullin, he is loving the playoffs and the team’s progress to reach the finals.
“Just enjoying every minute of it and taking it all in. Absolutely no nerves, because in everyone else’s heads we aren’t supposed to be here. So, we have nothing to lose.” Moullin said. “It just shows that all our belief in ourselves and hard work we put in throughout the season.”
Midland-Odessa FC won their national semifinal match on penalty kicks at Detroit City FC’s Keyworth Stadium. Winning the semi-final in front of a raucous crowd of 7,000, put silence to doubters and confidence into the club heading into Elm City Express’ home ground for the final.
When asked about having to travel for the final, Moullin was poised in his response.
“Can there be any more pressure than playing in Detroit? There is no fear, we weren’t supposed to be here, so why would we be afraid of the moment. Traveling across the states by plane beats having to travel across Texas by bus. We are relaxed and enjoying every minute. We can’t wait to play on the historic campus at Yale.”
With the final approaching, Moullin recognizes the occasion which lies ahead, and admits that along with the occasion comes quieting doubters.
“My expectations are that everyone on the field gives their all and at the end of it they hold their heads up high. The crowd won’t be a factor and we will just focus on ourselves and keep doing what got us here. It’s just the icing on the cake honestly. We obviously want to win the whole thing but I already feel like a champion having played with my teammates and having proved the skeptics incorrect.”
In terms of his team’s game plan, Moullin is believes the team understands what they need to do, saying: “My expectations are that everyone on the field will give their all and at the end of it they hold their heads up high win or lose. As always, the crowd won’t be a factor and we will just focus on ourselves and keep doing what got us here.”
Elm City Express has had a fairy-tale first season in the National Premier Soccer League. First, the team won the Atlantic Blue Conference regular season championship, then they captured the Northeast Region championship after beating Clarkstown (N.Y.) in the tournament quarterfinals on. They earned their ticket in the final with a 2-0 defeat of CD Aguiluchos USA in the national semifinal.
Now, Elm City has the chance to join RVA FC as the first team in their first season to win an NPSL championship. For Elm City’s Ashton Pett, hosting the final is well-deserved.
“This is a huge accomplishment for the club. We passed expectations but now we are here we have the belief that we will perform with the quality and attitude needed to bring home the championship.”
Pett has overall had a huge impact for the club, presenting quality leadership for the club throughout the season. His defensive ability and skill with the ball has shined during these playoff games, something that stats do not show.
All in all, Pett is appreciative for his chance to play the NPSL National Championship in New Haven, CT.
“There is a lot of excitement around the town being able to host the championship game. It is amazing that we can play on our home turf and have the crowd as our 12th man. The fans have been incredible for us so far, this season and it makes this even more special that we are able to play for the championship in front of them.”
For both Moullin and Pett, claiming the championship would be the cherry on top of all the hard work teammates and club members dedicated throughout the season.
“We know that we will be in for a tough game and that the only way we will win is with we bring the intensity and the quality to the pitch on Saturday,” Pett said. “There will probably be a few nerves flying around the locker room but mainly excitement. Everyone in the club has the belief and confidence in one another to get the job done. Whatever Odessa bring to the table, we will be waiting and ready to fight in this big game and hope to bring home the championship here to New Haven.”
“Winning the final would be remarkable,” Moullin said. “We started the summer with the goal of winning a national championship. Our mindset was simple, we are in this together and when you’re on the pitch go on with pace. We are just one step from making the goal reality and we are just having fun proving people wrong.”
With just two clubs remaining in the NPSL playoffs, this weekend’s match between the Elm City Express and Midland-Odessa FC guarantees to be an intense matchup. Both clubs have endured through the rigorous regular season and hardships of the playoffs, leading up to their chance to become national champions.