The Marshalltown Community College men's soccer team executed all around to come out on top against Iowa Western Community College in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference (ICCAC) Regional Semifinal on Tuesday. The victory snapped a three-year losing streak to the Reivers in post-season play.
The Tigers would control possession on the Reiver half of the field for the majority of the first half of play. Coming off an 11-day break, Marshalltown started slower than normal mainly due to inconsistent passing. It would take 11 minutes for the Tigers to get their first shot of the day off, and 16 minutes before an opportunity for a shot on goal.
It was in the 40th minute that the Tigers capitalized on a scoring opportunity, which originated with a foul on the right side of the box. Tiger attackers were able to get behind the Reiver defense, causing them to foul which led to a set piece. Sophomore Leonardo Tomasi executed an accurate cross in which sophomore Pedro Silva interrupted a Reiver defender as he was attempting to clear the ball. Silva got enough of a touch on the ball to send it to the back of the net, giving Marshalltown a 1-0 lead going into the half.
The second half would start off much like the first with very physical play, and the Tigers on the Reiver side of the field. Iowa Western would see a scoring opportunity in transition as Fernado Zaragosa would get behind the Tiger defense but his shot would be denied off of the cross bar. The Reivers kept the pressure on in the 75th minute as it would take Tiger goalkeeper sophomore Joel Serrano an outstretched lateral dive to block a shot by Tanner Miller. Raul Meneghetti would have a chance at the rebound but would miss high.
"I thought it was a very typical playoff match that required us to compete for every ball with the highest level of intensity and for most of the game I was happy that we were up to the challenge. I thought it was a very even game, hard fought for 90 minutes," Tiger Head Coach Rafael Martinez stated. "We faced several challenges throughout the game and I thought that we managed to get through them because of our commitment to play as a team."
MCC would go back on the offensive in the 77th minute when they were able to capitalize on a misstep by the Reiver defense. Freshman Gerald Diaz was able to win the ball out of sheer determination, pass to Silva who would one touch to freshman Sekou Kromah. Kromah would finish the play with good execution, sending a volley into the back of the net giving the Tigers the cushion they needed to close out the game.
"In the game itself, I feel that we dominated most of the possession and space but didn't create as many chances as we would have liked. This allowed to keep the game close to where any small mistake could have made the difference," Martinez said. "At the end, we were able to capitalize on a great scoring chance to extend our lead. We defended well as a team, limiting their chances which helped."
The victory earns the Marshalltown a spot in the ICCAC Final against Iowa Lakes Community College. The Tigers, who are still ranked number two in the latest NJCAA poll, faced the Lakers on September, 29th coming out on top 2-1. The regular season victory secured the one seed in the tournament and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, an environment that Tiger Nation took advantage of on Tuesday.
"I want to take the opportunity to thank all of the students, faculty and staff who came out and supported us. The atmosphere was amazing and it really helped us through difficult moments," Martinez remarked.
The Final will be held in Marshalltown on Saturday, October 27th with kickoff at 2PM. The winner of Saturday's match will be crowned Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Champion and advance to the Great Lakes District Championship on November 3rd.