The effort was enough for a win Tuesday, but Tigers coach Rafael Martinez knows his squad is capable of much more.
Stepping out of conference play, the Marshalltown Community College men's soccer team (9-4-1, 6-3) overcame a sluggish outing to hand the Iowa State soccer club its first loss of the season in a 2-0 decision at home Tuesday.
"I think that we didn't perform well in the sense that we didn't read the game well. We didn't make good decisions and that's why it was a little bit harder than it could have been," said Martinez.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Marshalltown Community College’s Jose Gomez, left, battles for possession of the ball during the team’s 2-0 victory over the Iowa State soccer club Tuesday at MCC.
Drawing MCC offside several times, the Cyclones (5-1) disrupted the Tigers' offensive rhythm by clogging the center area of the field with multiple players throughout the match.
"Iowa State did a very good job and their style made it harder for us without a doubt. I wish as a team that we would have read the game better and made better decisions," said Martinez.
(Iowa State) had high pressure on us, which was very effective. We weren't able to get out of the pressure through quick movement of the ball."
Mach Chuol put MCC in front in the 35th minute narrowly outrunning the Iowa State keeper on a loose ball and tapping it into the net on a deft pass from Josh Illum.
The Tigers clung to their narrow lead the rest of the way until Joao de Olivera added some insurance in the 89th minute on an assist from Philip Zeon as MCC improved to 5-1 at home.
MCC held a slight advantage in shots on goal at 7-6, though the Cyclones made a strong push late creating four of their opportunities in the second half.
Juan Castrejon maintained a clean sheet with three saves - all in the second half, while Javier Lopez came up with a key stop and clearance in the closing minutes to preserve the shutout.
Though the MCC offense picked up after the break, it still didn't quite reach the tempo Martinez was hoping for.
"In the second half we did a little better job of increasing the speed of the game to prevent them from pressuring us. We should have moved the ball a lot faster. The field was fast so there were perfect conditions for us to actually get that speed and higher rhythm of the game, but we didn't quite do it," said Martinez.
While the Tigers came out on top, it will likely take a much more focused and disciplined effort in MCC's remaining three regular season matches.
"We have three tough games in conference that will determine the (postseason) draw and who we're playing against," said Martinez.
Bruno Liozzi, first on the team in assists (7) and tied for second in goals (4), was out of action Tuesday, serving a one-game suspension for a red card - resulting from two yellows - he received in Saturday's 3-2 loss to No. 5 ranked Iowa Western.
With a match against No. 13 Iowa Central (12-1-1, 7-1-1) looming on Oct. 17, the Tigers must stay the course of focusing on one game at a time as they battle Iowa Lakes Community College (6-10, 3-6) Saturday at 1 p.m. MCC won the previous meeting over the Lakers 4-0 at home Sept. 19.
"The players understand the importance of these last three games, especially the first one on Saturday. I expect the team to respond. I think we're ready for it, we just need to put it all together on the field," said Martinez.