Omaha Rallies From 4-0 Deficit to Beat Cleveland 8-7, Advance to Final

The Omaha Kings rallied from a 4-0 deficit to down the Cleveland Crunch 8-7 in Saturday's first MLIS semifinal. Leonides Mejia's goal with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter broke a 7-7 tie.

Things started auspiciously for the Crunch. Dave Jordan and Tom Beck scored to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead through one quarter of play. Admir Suljevic scored on a shootout and Gabriel Pewu scored at 9:01 of the second quarter, and suddenly Cleveland had a 4-0 lead.

Guilherme Alencar got Omaha on the board with a restart goal at 10:47 and MLIS MVP Manuel Lira scored a shootout goal to cut the deficit to 4-2 going into halftime.

The momentum had clearly shifted and Bobby Jaffery and Lira scored third quarter goals to tie the game. Mickey Derezic scored a late power play goal to restore the Crunch lead, sending them into the fourth quarter leading 5-4.

Lira completed a hat trick just 46 seconds into the fourth quarter and less than two minutes later Alencar scored to give Omaha their first lead of the night.

Jordan's second goal of the night tied it at 6-6, but Alencar completed his own hat trick to put the Kings up 7-6. With 4:19 to go, Omaha goalkeeper Efren Flores made a rare mistake, coming off his line and clearing a ball off the boards that caromed right to Cleveland's Ryan Minick, who blasted it into the open net to tie the game at 7-7.

A little over a minute later, though, Daniel Zuckweiler led an Omaha fast break and slid the ball to Mejia who beat Crunch goalkeeper Marijo Musa to the upper far corner for what proved to be the winning goal. Cleveland (9-3 regular season, 1-1 playoffs) went right to the sixth attacker and was even awarded a power play with 1:15 to go, but could not find the equalizer.

Omaha (10-1 regular season, 1-0 playoffs) will face the winner of Saturday's second semifinal featuring Rapid City FC and the Houston Bolt in Sunday's championship final.