After splitting a weekend series with the Houston Dutch Lions in Houston, TX, Mississippi Brilla earned enough points to qualify for the 2015 Premier Development League playoffs. Houston proved to be the better side on Thursday by capturing a 4-1 victory. The loss put pressure on Brilla to come away with at least a draw on Saturday to ensure one of the two Mid-South Division playoff spots. Brilla did more than enough to solidify its spot in the postseason.
Desperate for a result to extend its season beyond Saturday’s regular season final match, Brilla came out with an all out assault. The high pressure proved beneficial in the 22nd minute when a ball in the box struck the arm of a Houston defender. Sergio Royo converted the penalty kick to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
Royo struck again just three minutes later when Brilla defender Macauley King played a long ball to the top of the box. Manu Saez was able to serve the bouncing ball toward the mouth of the goal, and an onrushing Royo headed home his second goal of the match.
In the 37th minute Royo and Saez teamed up again to give Brilla a commanding 3-0 lead. Royo played a nice through ball to Saez, who calmly place his shot into the back of the net after his defender fell to the turf.
Royo wasn’t finished, as he collected a hat trick in the 44th minute just before the close of the half. A loose ball in the middle of the field found Royo’s feet, and he headed toward the goal with Houston defenders in pursuit. His final touch found the corner and Brilla was well on its way to a win and playoff berth.
Houston picked up a beautiful consolation goal in second half stoppage time when substitute Jeroen Straetemans volleyed home a shot from long range.
The victory places Brilla (6-3-3, 21 points) back on top of the Mid-South Division, while Houston falls to 3-6-1. Mississippi’s regular season has come to a close, and it will wait on the final week of the PDL season before learning the location and opponent for the first round of the playoffs to be played the weekend of July 25th.