Iguanas Season Ends On PKs
Red Devils advance in shootoutUpdated Monday August 18, 2014 by Eric Thompson.
Soccer can be a cruel game sometimes.
Iguanas were originally scheduled to play Chameleons FC in their quarterfinal matchup. But after Vandals dropped out of the playoffs the teams were re-seeded and Iguanas faced Red Devils instead. Iguanas played well against very good competition; well enough to advance. Unfortunately, they became the only Monday Division 2 team to lose their match against their Sunday opponents.
The match started on a dreary Sunday morning in Blaine and both teams came out ready to play. There was a lot of back-and-forth action throughout most of the first half. Iguanas nearly got on the board about seven minutes in when Levi Patton took a header from a corner kick that grazed the crossbar and went over the net. Red Devils had a couple chances using some quick passes and speed up top that were thwarted by either the Iguanas back line or inaccurate shooting.
Red Devils finally broke the scoreless deadlock about 30 minutes in after a foul was called on Iguanas about 25 yards from net. The Red Devils free kick was taken perfectly and gave Jason Radatz no chance as the shot was buried in the upper left corner. Red Devils started to gain a little more possession after the goal but the game was still evenly matched for the most part. The teams went into halftime with Red Devils leading 1-0.
Iguanas didn't want the second half to be the last 45 minutes of their season and they played like it. They started pressing more and winning most of the 50/50 chances. Red Devils still had the occasional threatening run but most of the action was in front of their net. About halfway into the second half Iguanas finally broke through. Emmanuel Giddings sent a long throw-in towards the front post. Just as the ball was about to go over the end line, Jeremy Leinberger headed the ball back into play towards the net. After a brief scramble, Ryan Elling got the ball and slotted it past the Red Devils keeper to even the score at 1-1.
There were some excellent opportunities for the Iguanas to find a late game-winner, but they couldn't quite find it. Giddings had a couple close calls after great runs that were turned away at the last moment. Other Iguanas players had shots that were blocked or just missed the target. Red Devils nearly scored right before the final whistle but Radatz came up with a big save on a shot from about 15 yards out. After 90 minutes the teams were still deadlocked at 1-1.
In the MRSL playoffs, there is no extra time. The games go directly to penalty kicks if tied after regulation. Penalty kicks can seem like a coin flip proposition at times, and unfortunately for Iguanas they ended up on the wrong side of the coin this time. Radatz got a hand to three of the four kicks he faced in the shootout, but unfortunately he didn't get enough of them to stop them from going in. Eric Thompson and Mark Peterson both converted from the spot for Iguanas, but Josh Hanson and Giddings both had their attempts saved by the Red Devils goalkeeper. Red Devils advanced in the Division 2 playoffs 4-2 on penalties.
Iguanas didn't have the end to their season they had hoped for, but they had plenty to be proud of in their 2014 campaign. If they can improve next season like they did during this one, they'll be a force to be reckoned with in Division 2 next summer.