FRISCO, Texas — Forward Madison FC entered the USL League One semifinals riding a five-match unbeaten streak.
The Flamingos also had the confidence that their recent run included a victory over top-seeded North Texas SC, their playoff foe on Saturday night.
It took a span of two minutes for the good vibes to disappear, however.
Ricardo Pepi, a 16-year-old forward from El Paso, Texas, scored twice in rapid succession in the second half to send North Texas to a 2-0 victory and a spot in the championship game.
Pepi broke through in the 76th minute, converting a shot from outside the box into the bottom left corner.
He added the insurance goal in the 78th minute on a header.
The Flamingos (12-10-7) and North Texas (18-6-5) split their four games entering the playoffs.
Madison came a long way in its inaugural season. The Flamingos were in last place after 10 games but secured the final playoff spot on the last day of the regular season.
North Texas will host Greenville Triumph SC, who beat Lansing Ignite FC 3-2 in the other semifinal, next Saturday in the championship game.
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Forward Madison FC 0 0 — 0
North Texas SC 0 2 — 2
Second half: NT — Pepi (Nelson), 76th; Pepi (Romero), 78th.
Saves: FM (Sylvestre) 4, NT (Maurer) 6.
Possession: FM .332, NT .668. Shots-on goal: FM 10-5, NT 12-6. Corner kicks: FM 3, NT 8. Fouls: FM 5, NT 18. Offsides: FM 0, NT 2. Yellow cards: Toyama, FM, 8th; Robert, NT, 32nd; Leonard, FM, 33rd; Cerrillo, NT, 36th; Jatta, NT, 88th.
Att. — 4,067.
Forward Madison FC — Sylvestre, Manley, Díaz, Omsberg, Tobin, Leonard, Núñez, Banks, Bement (Eaton 83rd), Toyama (Smart 77th), Paulo Jr. (Bartley 90th)
North Texas — Maurer, Reynolds, Nelson, Evans, Montgomery, Cerrillo, Damus (Romero 74th), Roberts (Jatta 82th), Almaguer (Tessmann 90th + 4), Rodriguez, Pepi.