Iguanas Blast in-II playoffs
4-0 win secures postseason berthUpdated Tuesday August 4, 2015 by Eric Thompson.
Iguanas have been on a roll since losing back-to-back games early in the season, but the past two weeks hadn't been easy. A narrow 1-0 victory over JAWA FC gave Iguanas their fifth consecutive win thanks to a late goal by Brian Pearson. The following week Iguanas found themselves down 2-0 at halftime against Lightening Company but stormed back late for a 2-2 draw to keep their unbeaten streak alive. Next they faced the team they started their streak against: Blast II. Iguanas scored three times late to edge Blast II 4-3 the first time around. The second matchup didn't have the late drama, but it had the same positive result for Iguanas.
Blast II only had 10 men at the start of the game and Iguanas took no time in taking advantage before Blast's eleventh player showed up about 10 minutes in. Ryan Elling sent a perfect cross from the right side of the midfield to the back post, where Kevin Bonnema was waiting unmarked. Bonnema nodded the ball in to give Iguanas an early 1-0 lead.
Once the teams were at equal strength, the rest of the first half was much more even. Blast II looked like they could have equalized about 20 minutes in after rifling a shot toward Iguanas keeper Jason Radatz. The ball swerved off of Radatz's arm and towards the goal line, but he was able to clear it off the line at the last moment.
For the rest of the first half, both teams were building promising attacks but couldn't manage to fire off many shots on goal. That changed on a rather unconventional counter attack by Iguanas. Sil Chiriac was trying to move the ball up the right side of his own half of the field when he was trapped by two Blast II defenders. He sent a rather dangerous pass to defender Eric Thompson in the middle of the field, just in front of Iguanas' penalty area. Thankfully the pass caught players on both teams off guard and Thompson found Brian Henke streaking down the middle of the field with a long ball. Henke settled the ball masterfully, raced behind the Blast defense, and slotted the ball in the lower left corner to give Iguanas a 2-0 right before halftime.
Blast II came out on the attack early in the second half and threatened to get back into the game. But Radatz and the Iguanas defense were equal to the task, stopping shots and thwarting close opportunities. After the initial flurry by Blast II, Iguanas were able to gain more control and execute some nice passing combinations. The home team scored again after a patient attack that saw a lot of players touching the ball and switching fields. Eventually Thompson sent in a low, hard cross to the top right of the box. The ball took a deflection off Elling and landed at the feet of Jacob Kerkinni. He made his shot count to give Iguanas a 3-0 lead.
Just minutes later, Iguanas struck again off a long throw-in from Jeremy Leinberger. Elling got to the throw by the near post and flicked a picture perfect header to the opposite side of the net, where Mark Peterson fired home a shot past the helpless Blast II keeper to put the game away.
Blast II tried desperately to find a goal before the final whistle, but Radatz was equal to the task every time. The visitors had a few great chances off of flicked headers and well-timed through balls only to be thwarted by a series of great saves. In the end Radatz was able to secure his shutout and Iguanas were able to secure 19 of a possible 21 points from their last seven games.
The victory guarantees a playoff spot for Iguanas, who currently sit second in the Monday Division 2 standings with 26 points and two games remaining. Next week they take on the only team ahead of them in the table: Dunesday, who dispatched Iguanas 3-0 earlier in the season.