Reign in the rain
No. 13 MCC men’s soccer team wallops Hawkeye in home-opener
For the first time in nearly a year, Marshalltown Community College head soccer coach Rafael Martinez was back on the sideline at home during the Tigers’ home opener against Hawkeye Community College on Wednesday afternoon.
Martinez took a leave of absence in the middle of last season to care for his son, Pablo, who was diagnosed with cancer and required various forms of treatment.
Not only was Rafael back on the sidelines for MCC, but Pablo was also in attendance to cheer his father’s squad to a 5-0 home win over the RedTails. Then after the game, Pablo was able to make his way to midfield to meet Rafael for a big, emotional hug.
“I absolutely love the experience and I missed it, obviously,” Rafael said of coaching at home for the first time since his return to the team. “This is what I love to do, just being here at home with our fans. The students get to play in front of their peers and friends on campus so the environment is much more fun. It’s an event, and I love being a part of it. I’ve definitely missed it and I am really excited about being back to the routine of gameday on campus.”
Nasty weather threatened to once again postpone the NJCAA Division-I No. 13 Tigers’ home opener, with Wednesday’s game already a postponement from a match earlier this year.
Luckily the rain held off and a game was played, though the RedTails might have wanted another postponement after the match.
It only took 20 minutes for MCC (5-0) to put the game safely away.
Joel Valderas scored on a penalty kick just seven minutes into the match, kicking off a string of four goals in 11 minutes that effectively sealed the deal for the home squad.
Kenlove Solon would tack on one more goal with just seconds remaining in the first half, which added to the earlier scores by Valderas, Manoel dos Passos, Kazuki Kimura and Gerald Diaz and gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead at halftime. That score would hold through the second half, and MCC kicked off its home schedule with a 5-0 drubbing of Hawkeye.
“We started with really good intensity,” Martinez said. “We made some changes because we wanted to bring that intensity from the very beginning. After a very busy weekend we felt we needed some fresh legs and the guys stepped up just like I knew they would. I have said it many times, I feel like we have 27 players that can start any day, and the ones that have repeated in starting were at their best, and the ones that started for the first time stepped up to the occasion.”
The Tigers outshot the RedTails (1-3) 24-1 in the contest, with 14 of those shots going on goal. MCC currently ranks sixth in the NJCAA Division-I with 85 total shots this season, and it sits in eighth in goals scored with 20.
All this offense comes on the heels of losing an All-American player in Kino Ryosuke, who is now a starting forward for the NCAA No. 7 Louisville Cardinals and the all-time leading scorer in Tiger history.
How MCC is making up for that gap is not by having one player step into Ryosuke’s shoes, but by having a more balanced attack throughout the lineup.
“That is exactly what we hope to do, be more of a team that can defend and attack as a unit,” Martinez said. “Last season we were very dependent on Kino, for the right reasons. He was able to make things happen, but I feel like we have a lot of other players now that can play an important role for us. I love have that diversity and that many options to change things around.”
All five goals against Hawkeye were scored by five different players, and four different players recorded assists. Overall 12 total players took a shot in the win, and nine had shots on goal.
Having so many options can sometimes leave players feeling like they are left out, but Martinez said he’s able to switch around the lineups depending on what is required of the team to get a win.
“Some games are for one player, others are for a different player, and if we all stay in our role and embrace our role, I think everyone will feel like they are playing an important part,” he said. “In that sense we can go and compete every day with anyone in our conference.”
It’s not just the offense that led the Tigers to a 5-0 win on Wednesday, or to a 5-0 record to start the year. The RedTails were barely able to maintain any possession throughout the game, managing just one total shot in 90 minutes, and so far MCC has only surrendered one goal.
“We create a lot of opportunities up front and that comes from the work that we do across all 11 players,” Martinez said. “We still believe that our defensive organization needs to be one of our strengths. Everyone is committed to defending and working hard for each other, it’s what makes it a difference on a daily basis.”
While starting the season as strong as they have and moving up to No. 13 in the latest rankings is a great thing, Martinez said everything changes this weekend when the Tigers finally get started with Iowa Community College Athletic Conference play against Iowa Central on Saturday.
“The rankings and the records, that’s all about yesterday, all about the past. We need to focus on today, and today is now about recovering and tomorrow is working to get ready for Iowa Central because they will give us probably the biggest challenge that we’ve had so far this season,” he said. “That is what I think the players, the sophomores understand, that the biggest challenges are coming up in the ICCAC and we need to be ready for that. It’s going to be a completely different environment, a completely different contest, it’s all completely different. I hope that we do our part to get there.”
Marshalltown will head to Fort Dodge to take on the Tritons on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.
Marshalltown CC 5,
Hawkeye 0 0 — 0
MCC 5 0 — 5
MCC — Joel Valderas (PK), 6:43.
MCC — Manoel dos Passos (Rafael Ramos), 12:02.
MCC — Kazuki Kimura (Taiki Kinugawa), 15:19.
MCC — Gerald Diaz (Kimura), 17:31.
MCC — Kenlove Solon (Sekou Kromah), 43:66.
Goalkeepers — HAWK: Vladimir Gonzalez (8 shots on goal-3 saves) 45 minutes, Trevor Ward (6-6); MCC: Tom Wackens (0-0).
Shots — HAWK 1, MCC 24.
Shots on goal — HAWK 0, MCC 14.
Fouls — HAWK 8, MCC 13.
Corner kicks — HAWK 0, MCC 12.
Yellow cards — Amani Sila, HAWK, 43:50; Gerald Diaz, MCC, 62:39; Amani Sila, HAWK, 87:59.
Red cards — Amani Sila, HAWK, 87.59.