Iguanas storm back over Flying Loons, 4-1
Second half surge gives Iguanas third straight winUpdated Tuesday June 30, 2015 by Eric Thompson.
Whenever Iguanas visit Minnesota Flying Loons, weather seems to be an issue. Last season, Flying Loons won a chilly, windy, rain-soaked game to sweep the season series. The 2015 matchup was no different, with the weather playing a major factor. But this year it was Iguanas going for the season sweep.
The game kicked off without any issues, with temperatures in the low 80's and very high humidity. Iguanas only had 11 players available so the sweltering heat combined with the very thick grass at Rich Valley Fields in Eagan played a factor early on. Both teams struggled to find their touch early on, turning the ball over to each other frequently. The squads exchanged a couple decent scoring opportunities but neither really threatened until about a half hour into the game. The Iguanas defense stopped a Flying Loons cross into the box, but the clearance didn't travel nearly as far as intended. A Flying Loons attacker collected the ball, saw Iguanas keeper Jason Radatz coming off his line, and chipped the ball over him to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Then the weather came into play.
The temperature dropped about 15 degrees as a summer storm rolled in. Rain started falling. As the first half concluded with Flying Loons holding onto their 1-0 advantage, some lightning started flashing in the distance. Just ten minutes into the second half, lightning struck close enough to suspend the game. Iguanas were concerned that the remainder of the game would be canceled, which would count as a loss since the second half had kicked off. But after about 20 minutes of heavy rain and lightning, the weather improved and the teams took back to the field to finish the game.
And that's when things got interesting.
As Iguanas pressed to find the equalizer, a corner kick was sent in towards Iguanas forward Kevin Bonnema. Some contact was made as everyone in the box went up for the ball. A Flying Loons player took objection to the contact Bonnema made with the Flying Loons keeper and went after him with a vicious two-footed tackle from behind. This ignited a scuffle that ended with both Bonnema and the instigator on Flying Loons being issued red cards. But since Flying Loons had committed the first foul in the box and Bonnema had retaliated after the whistle, Iguanas were awarded a penalty kick after everything had settled down. Eric Thompson stepped to the penalty spot and calmly slotted the ball into the net to tie the score at 1-1.
With both teams at ten men, it was Iguanas that took advantage of the extra space on the field, patiently switching fields and finding open teammates. Just minutes after Thompson's PK, Josh Hanson found Brian Pearson near the top of the box with an excellent cross. Pearson expertly trapped the ball with his chest and fired a low shot past the keeper with his next touch to give Iguanas a 2-1 advantage.
Suddenly trailing, Flying Loons tried to fight back but the Iguanas defense held firm with smart and disciplined marking to force turnovers. Iguanas scored again off a quick counterattack. Joe Wieland took an intercepted pass and immediately found Hanson making a run. Hanson maneuvered around his defender and fired a nice left-footed shot past the keeper to give Iguanas a two-goal advantage. Shortly thereafter the Hanson/Pearson combo struck again. Hanson sent another cross from the left side that found Pearson in stride, who once again found the lower right corner of the net for his second goal of the game.
Minutes before the final whistle, Wieland was called for a foul in the box after making pretty minimal contact with a Flying Loons forward. The refereeing was questionable for much of the match, including both teams getting whistled for form-perfect slide tackles because the wet field apparently made sliding a "dangerous play". Regardless, Flying Loons were rewarded with a rather suspect chance to get a goal back.
Make that two chances.
Radatz made a diving stop on the penalty kick, only to have the referee tell the kicker to line up again. A Flying Loons player clearly entered the penalty area before the ball was kicked, and Paul Hamilton followed the player into the box just as the shot was taken. The referee claimed this called for a re-kick of the penalty. But Radatz was once again up to the task, making another great diving save to secure the three-goal lead. Finally, the whistle blew on a wild second half and Iguanas had secured a 4-1 victory.
Iguanas' third straight win leaves them in second place in the Monday Division 2 table with a 5-2-1 record. After the 4th of July break Iguanas will take on the team directly behind them in the standings, Beer Engines FC. Iguanas defeated BEFC 3-1 earlier in the season.