IRVINE, CA (December 3, 2023) - Northern Virginia Football Club traveled the furthest and proved they wanted it the most.
K.J. Nadeau scored the late equalizer, Tyler Back made a crucial save in the shootout and J.P. Ayolmbong finished the job as NoVa FC defeated Las Vegas Legends FC 2-2 (5-3) on Sunday to claim the first NISA Nation National Championship at Championship Stadium at Orange County Great Park.
"It's all about making adjustments," Nadeau said. "We've been here before, and lost at a National Championship weekend before, and so we knew that this time it had to be different. We kept moving and chugging along and we got the job done."
Legends FC missed an opportunity to score at the end of the first half when centerback Abdel Kuwa chipped his penalty kick attempt over the bar.
NoVa FC broke through in the second half on a deflection off Ayolmbong in the 51st minute, but Legends super sub David Villanueva tied the game in the 60th minute with a header from a cross from Mauricio Muniz.
Legends took a lead in overtime (90 +1) when Villanueva played a ball back to the top of the box, Duce Bell dummied, and Jose Lopez smashed home what-looked-like the game-winning goal.
But NoVa FC was not to be denied, with Ayolmbong lofting a touch pass to Nadeau, who nestled it in at the far post to level things before the end of regular time.
After two scoreless 30-minute periods, kicks from the penalty spot determined the match winner.
Back, who made six saves over 120 minutes, dove to his right to stop Lopez's attempt in the shootout before Ayolmbong made NoVa FC 5-for-5 with his final kick.
NoVa FC qualified for the NISA Nation National Championhip tournmant via the club's 2022-'23 Eastern Premier Soccer League title. The club has not lost a match in league plays in more than 2 years.