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Iguanas down Flying Loons late
Two late goals secure another winUpdated Wednesday May 25, 2016 by Eric Thompson.
The phrase "second half team" gets thrown around a lot in soccer, but Iguanas might just be the very definition of it through the first month of the 2016 MRSL season. The team has not held the lead at any point in the first half of their first four matches, yet they have salvaged 7 of a possible 12 points.
Of course falling behind early isn't exactly a recipe for sustained success, but Iguanas were able to make it work for the second straight week on a humid and overcast night at their home field Century College. Iguanas and Minnesota Flying Loons spent the first ten minutes of the game getting a feel for each other, but soon after the visitors took control. Iguanas had opportunities to switch the fields and use the space in front of them for much of the first half, but instead they opted for difficult through balls and hurried attacks into crowded areas. The Flying Loons were able to intercept several passes and keep most of the action in their attacking end. The Iguanas back line held firm until about the 30th minute. Several Loons players rushed the penalty area, leading to a scramble that resulted in a missed clearance. A Flying Loons player secured the ball about ten yards out and easily slotted home an open shot past Jason Radatz.
Once again, Iguanas found themselves in the familiar position of conceding the game's first goal. They started to play better toward the end of the first half but the closest they could come to an equalizer was a Scott Hunter shot that ricocheted off the corner of the goal. The teams went into halftime with a score of 1-0 in favor of the Flying Loons.
Iguanas played much better in the second half--they finally settled down and took their time building an attack. Low percentage passes that went flying up the field earlier in the game turned into smart, patient connections, and the momentum of the game changed accordingly. Flying Loons were able to create a handful of chances, but most of the opportunities were happening in front of their goal.
But as the second half wore on, Iguanas couldn't quite find the right combination to even the score. And with about 20 minutes left in the game, they would have to find a goal without one of their better threats up top.
Kerry Burns and a Flying Loons defender both chased the ball out of bounds, a harmless event that happens very frequently. But after the ball was well out of touch, the players got tangled up. Some extracurricular pushing ensued, which turned into a minor scuffle. The referee wasn't about to let it escalate onto the field and promptly showed a red card to both players. Suddenly both teams were down to 10 men.
With a bit more space on the field, Iguanas capitalized with their depth and wore down the Flying Loons defense. After some very close calls, the home team broke through with just under ten minutes remaining in the game. Iguanas methodically worked the ball up from the back through the midfield and found Josh Hanson with some space on the right side. Hanson sent a perfect cross to the near post, where Doug Humphrey was sprinting in. Humphrey headed the ball off the bottom of the crossbar and just over the line to level the score. Iguanas had erased a late deficit for the second straight week.
And for the second straight week, Iguanas weren't done there. Just minutes later, Hanson took a through ball on the right side from a series of passes that could have been a carbon copy of the first goal. This time Hanson sent a hard cross low, where Mark Peterson had created some space right in front of the goal. Peterson made no mistakes with his opportunity and suddenly Iguanas found themselves with a 2-1 lead.
Flying Loons scrambled to salvage a point but Radatz and the Iguanas defense held firm. The final whistle blew and Iguanas had escaped with another come from behind victory.
The win leaves Iguanas with a 2-1-1 record, good for third in the table heading into the Memorial Day break. The Monday Division 2 table is incredibly crowded, with the top 7 teams within 3 points of each other. When play resumes in June, Iguanas will visit Bloomington United, who has yet to earn a point in the 2016 campaign.