Iguanas win thriller over Blast II, 4-3
Second half comeback breaks losing skidUpdated Tuesday June 16, 2015 by Eric Thompson.
After going five halves of soccer without scoring a goal and getting only one point from their last three games, Iguanas looked to turn their fortunes around against Blast II on a warm and breezy Monday evening at National Sports Center in Blaine. For a while it appeared that the only bounces happening would go against Iguanas.
The first half began fairly evenly with both teams getting a feel for how the other would attack. Iguanas had a couple early opportunities but relied on long balls over any extended stretches of possession. About 10 minutes into the game, Blast tried a long ball of their own toward the top of the Iguanas box. It was well defended--at first. Joe Wieland and Eric Thompson raced to the ball but both pulled up at the last second to avoid a collision. The ball deflected directly to an open Blast attacker's feet, who calmly put the ball in the lower corner to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Iguanas pushed for an equalizer for the rest of the first half but weren't having much luck in the attacking third of the field. They finally broke through just before the break thanks to the hustle of Kevin Bonnema. The Iguanas forward forced a back pass to the keeper and got to the ball just before the keeper could pick it up. Bonnema sent in a shot that the goalie parried off the crossbar, but Kerry Burns was waiting in the box to bang home the rebound. The teams went into halftime with a score of 1-1.
At the start of the second half, the Achilles heel of Iguanas struck again: defending set pieces. Just minutes into the second stanza, a Blast II corner kick couldn't be cleared by the Iguanas defense and a Blast attacker slotted the ball home to regain the lead. Ten minutes after that, Thompson was called for a foul about 22 yards out. The subsequent free kick was perfectly taken as it dipped right over the wall and past Iguanas keeper Zak Prauer. Suddenly Blast II were up 3-1.
Things were looking bleak for Iguanas, facing a two goal deficit and staring a three-game losing streak in the face. They kept attacking and finally started to possess more with patient passing instead of constantly trying low-percentage chipped balls. The change in methodology began to pay off about halfway through the second half. After an impressive series of moves down the left side of the field, Brian Henke sent a great cross to the back post. Aaron Rosenthal sent a header in off the keeper that drew Iguanas back within one.
Just a few minutes later Iguanas got the equalizer thanks to another series of quick, connected passes. Jeremy Leinberger ended up with the ball inside the box and sent a quick ball to Brian Pearson, who tapped it in to tie the score at 3-3.
Getting a draw after being down by two goals is an accomplishment in itself, but Iguanas would end up doing it one better. In the closing moments of the game, Burns was fouled about 20 yards from the Blast net. Josh Hanson and Thompson lined up over the ball to discuss the crucial free kick. After Hanson ran over the ball and drew the Blast keeper away, it was Thompson's turn to make a positive impact after being at least partially responsible for goals on the other end throughout the game. Thompson put the left-footed free kick just inside the left post to give Iguanas an improbable late lead. Just minutes later the referee blew the final whistle and Iguanas had secured a thrilling 4-3 victory.
The win leaves Iguanas in third place in the standings through six games. Next up is a home game against Northern FC, the team currently at the bottom of the table yet coming off a big win over the previously undefeated JAWA FC.