Iguanas top Cartes Rouge in battle for first
Win is 4th straight for IguanasUpdated Tuesday June 14, 2016 by Eric Thompson.
After a disastrous start to the 2016 season that saw Iguanas unorganized and undisciplined, it was hard to imagine that they would be fighting for a top spot in the table just over a month later. But here they were, trying to win their fourth consecutive game as they hosted Cartes Rouge on a soggy and humid Monday evening at Century College.
Cartes Rouge and Iguanas were the top two teams with 10 points apiece heading into the match, which meant a winner would be alone atop the Monday Division 2 standings after six games. Despite a rather muddy field, both teams played crisply to start the game and created some decent chances. After an early flurry of chances by Cartes Rouge that were turned away by Jason Radatz and the Iguanas defense, the home team started to take control of more possession. About 15 minutes in Josh Hanson found himself on a breakaway after a quick counterattack, but chipped a shot just wide of the net. He would atone for the missed opportunity shortly thereafter.
Joe Wieland won a ball around midfield and dished it off to Scott Hunter, who found Hanson open on a perfectly placed crossing pass. Hanson made no mistakes this time and gave Iguanas a 1-0 lead.
Cartes Rouge had a few decent attacks in the remainder of the first half but Iguanas were quick to turn them away and counter with aggressive play through the midfield. Dalton Cristilly was a big part of Iguanas success throughout the game, constantly winning 50/50 balls and advancing through the central midfield. Cristilly doubled Iguanas' lead after receiving a quick pass from Joel Giefer just outside the box. Cristilly deftly maneuvered around two Cartes Rouge defenders and rifled a shot home to make the score 2-0 as the teams headed into halftime.
The second half started with more back-and-forth play. Cartes Rouge threatened to cut into the lead with a couple shots that required some quick saves from Radatz. However, it was Iguanas that would tally the next goal. After Iguanas forced a turnover in their attacking third, Hunter dropped the ball into space for Kevin Bonnema about 25 yards out. Bonnema took a quick touch and sent an excellent shot that dipped under the bar after clearing the outstretched hands of the keeper. Iguanas now sat with a relatively comfortable 3-0 lead.
But as Iguanas learned last week, a comfortable lead can turn uncomfortable in a hurry. With about 20 minutes remaining in the game, a Cartes Rouge attacker took advantage of a couple deflections off of Iguanas defenders as he dribbled through and slotted home the first goal of the game for the visitors.
Unlike their previous game against Bloomington United, Iguanas didn't get flustered by conceding against the run of play. In fact, they had a few great opportunities to extend their lead back to three. Unfortunately their shots were stopped by the Cartes Rouge keeper, the post, or inaccuracy on open attempts. Instead it was Cartes Rouge that tallied the next goal. One of their forwards put a nice first touch on the ball to secure a long cross and fired a perfectly placed shot to the lower corner. With about ten minutes remaining, it was up to Iguanas to hold onto another shrinking late lead.
Once again Iguanas survived the scare and held firm as they ran out the clock with smart, possessing play. The final whistle signaled Iguanas' fourth straight win, this time by a score of 3-2.
Through six games Iguanas stand alone atop the Monday Division 2 standings with 13 points and a 4-1-1 record. But they'll have to keep getting results to stay there--the six teams below Iguanas are all within six points of them. Iguanas will look to extend their streak as they host a familiar foe in Beer Engines FC. Over the past three seasons, Iguanas has compiled a 4-0-2 record against their next opponent.