IT'S HISTORY IN THE MAKING AS WICHITA WINGS, CLEVELAND CRUNCH MEET FOR CHAMPIONSHIP
WICHITA, Kan. – At least as far as fans of the Wichita Wings and Cleveland Crunch are concerned, today’s Championship Game for the Major Arena Soccer League 2 title is as it should be.
The matchup was set Saturday at Hartman Arena, after the Crunch rolled past the Amarillo Bombers, 12-6, and the Wings corralled the Chicago Mustangs, 7-1, setting up today’s winner-take-all finals between the No. 1 and No.2 playoff seeds.
Kickoff is at 5 p.m. CST, with tickets available at www.wichitawingssoccer.com. The game will also be broadcast live by the For the Fans network, available on select satellite and cable providers to 60 million homes worldwide. A live stream of the broadcast is also available at ftfnext.com.
“Both sides are very aware of the great history and passion for the sport attached to these franchises, even though they are newer versions of past teams,” M2 Commissioner Chris Economides said. “Playing for a championship always is big time, but knowing what each side is representing raises the stakes even higher. It should be a fantastic show for the fans and the league.”
The Cleveland Force were original members of the Major Indoor Soccer League its inaugural 1978-79 season, and later on, the Crunch won National Professional Soccer League championships in 1994, 1996 and 1999. The sport left Cleveland shortly thereafter, with the team reborn for the 2021 M2 season, with the Crunch moniker coming back to life after a 20 year absence.
The Wings joined the original MISL in its second season, and played continuously through the 2000-2001 season in the NPSL. The current Wings franchise joined M2 for the 2019 season. Despite its iconic standing in the sport, a win Sunday would give its first ever indoor soccer championship.
Both Cleveland and Wichita raced to big first half leads and were never seriously threatened thereafter in action Saturday.
With the game tied at 2-2 early in the second, the Crunch went on a four-goal scoring spree to break the game open. Admir Suljevic led the way with two goals and three assists while Mike Derezic had three goals and an assist while captain Dave Jordan also had a hat trick. MASL stars Mitchell Cardenas and VcMor Eligwe, who both signed with the Bombers late in the season, led the Amarillo attack with two goals each.
Wichita built a 5-0 lead midway through the second and was never headed. Jarred Robbins had two goals and one assist, while Kevin Ten Eyck and Eduardo “Benji” Monreal each had a goal and an assist. Steven Hamersky faced 22 Cleveland shots, and was credited with nine saves in getting the win.
The Crunch and Wings met just once in the regular season, with Wichita taking a hard-fought 4-3 win at Hartman Arena on June 5. Monreal got the game winner just over two minutes into overtime.