Iguanas wash down Beer Engines
3-1 win gives Iguanas a 2-0-0 startUpdated Tuesday May 12, 2015 by Eric Thompson.
The 2015 campaign is only two weeks old, but Iguanas are in a rather unfamiliar place so far--atop the MRSL Monday Division 2 table.
Iguanas hosted Beer Engines FC in a crucial early season matchup as both teams were coming off wins in their openers. While the previous week's game had perfect soccer weather for both fans and spectators, the second week was a jarring reminder of how fickle Minnesota Spring weather can be. The gametime temperature at Century College hovered in the high 40's and low 50's with a constant mist of drizzle.
The slick field proved troublesome for both teams but Beer Engines FC seemed to have a better handle of the ball at first. The visitors held the lion's share of possession early on; however, they couldn't get much on frame. The attempts they did have on net were easily snared by Iguanas keeper Zak Prauer.
About 15 minutes in, Iguanas started connecting on some passes and making a push towards the other end of the field. The home team was able to break through first when defender Eric Thompson sent a high lofted ball toward the box. The Beer Engines keeper looked to have an angle on the ball but hesistated coming off his line. Kerry Burns made him pay by taking the ball on a quick touch and slotting a shot in off the left post.
Just a few minutes later Iguanas were back at it. After Iguanas won a free kick near midfield, Thompson sent the ball up to Joe Wieland, who was breaking up the left flank unmarked. Weiland sent a great ball towards the back post. A Beer Engines defender got a slight glance of a header on the cross, but it wasn't enough to misdirect the ball from Scott Hunter, who coolly nodded the ball in to give Iguanas a 2-0 lead.
The quick goals energized the hosts and Iguanas controlled the majority of play for the remainder of the first half. They were rewarded with their third goal about 35 minutes in. Josh Hanson made an excellent run past would-be defenders on the left side of the field. He picked out Jason Radatz on the far post with a perfect low cross. Radatz's contact with the ball wasn't pretty--it was a bit of a two-footed push to make sure the ball didn't skip past him on the slick surface--but it was effective enough to sneak the ball over the goal line. The goal gave Radatz, who played keeper in the first game, a unique stat combination: a shutout and a goal in consecutive games. There are very few, if any, players in MRSL history that can make that claim.
Meanwhile, Beer Engines had one threatening chance that forced a great reaction save from Prauer, but that was it for the rest of the half. (Outside of an errant cross that hit the porta potty behind the field, making it a truly "shitty" cross.) Iguanas took a commanding 3-0 lead into halftime.
The second half featured mostly back-and-forth play throughout the midfield without a ton of chances for either side. Iguanas made some promising runs but couldn't quite connect for any additional goals. Radatz nearly scored his second on a scramble in front of the net but his close-range shot rattled off the bar and out of bounds. Beer Engines were able to pull a goal back with about 15 minutes remaining. After an Iguanas defender deflected a pass to an open Beer Engines midfielder, he fired a great shot from about 25 yards out over Prauer, off the crossbar, and in.
But any hopes of a comeback were thwarted by Prauer and the Iguanas defense in front of him as they frustrated Beer Engines attackers for the remainder of the game. The final whistle blew and Iguanas had secured a 3-1 victory.
Iguanas are the only team in the division that secured all six points from their opening two games, leaving them alone in first place very early in the season. Next week Iguanas will have their first road test against Lightening Company, a team that was promoted from Division 3 this season and has split their first two games of 2015.