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MCC closes conference play with win

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - Marshalltown Community College freshman Yushi Nagao (23) stuffs the soccer ball into the net in front of Hawkeye Community College’s Donald Holliday (3) for a goal during their Iowa Community College Athletic Conference match Saturday on the MCC campus.

The Marshalltown Community College soccer team kept a level head in its final regular-season Iowa Community College Athletic Conference game against Hawkeye CC. The Tigers came away with a 6-1 win in the physical game.

The RedTails’ physicality had 15 fouls and six yellow cards called against them in the game.

“We knew this was going to be a challenging match because Hawkeye needed a good result against us to qualify for the playoffs so we knew it was going to be intense,” head coach Rafael Martinez said. “We tried to be very focused from the beginning and maintain the intensity the high and follow our play. I felt that we did.

“Especially, now at the end of the season toward the playoffs, emotions play a big part. We talk about trying to contain our emotions. We knew that they were going to be pressed into more pressure to get the result more than us. We tried to make sure that the game was not determined by emotion but by the quality of execution.”

The Tigers (11-4, 6-3) scored their first goal in the 21st minute as Yushi Nagao assisted Jiroh Hatano to take a 1-0 lead. MCC’s offense was kept in check as the game progressively more physical for the rest of the half.

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - Marshalltown Community College freshman Seiya Zen (13) celebrates one of his two goals against Hawkeye Community Collegeduring their Iowa Community College Athletic Conference match Saturday on the MCC campus.

“I thought that we were being too vertical with the ball,” Martinez said. “Our passes were just too direct. That made it a little bit easier for them to defend. We tried to develop the play a little bit more and utilize the width of the field more. I think that made a difference because several of the second-half goals came from the outside [and] bringing the ball into the center which wasn’t happening in the first half. The players did a very good job of executing that and utilizing the space that was available.”

That adjustment helped MCC score four of its five goals in the second half.

The backbreaker for Hawkeye (5-5-2, 3-4-2) came in the 53rd minute after Nagao scored from an assist by Matheus Pereira. The RedTails were issued a yellow card after the goal which made the Hawkeye defense unorganized and led to Guilherme Pereira scoring a goal in the 54th minute to take a 3-0 lead.

“Our team made a good job of moving the ball from side to side and trying to find space, especially in this play,” Pereira said. “We opened with the right back and he crossed to the box and I arrived alone and I scored the goal.”

The RedTails caught a break in the 57th minute and scored its lone goal on a penalty kick.

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE

However, MCC continued to execute its game plan and took advantage of the open spaces in the Hawkeye defense which helped Seiya Zen and Hatano score two more goals in the 62nd and 65th minutes.

Kenlove Solon capped the game off in the 85th minute by scoring on a free kick to close out the Tigers’ win.

At the end of the game, MCC outshot the RedTails 13-4 with 10 being on goal.

“Mainly there were goals that were the result of good team play and good combinations,” Martinez said. “The last goal was a moment of brilliance by Kenlove, but the rest of the goals I thought were the result of those good combinations in which a lot of the players on the team participated. That makes it feel really better.”

Martinez’s message to his team was to stay away from emotion and just execute the team’s game plan.

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE

“Coach spoke with us in the locker room about [the physical game] and we [that] have to be good and maintain our strengths,” Pereira said. “This game was really good to play because it’s a good fight for us. We need to keep improving in the next game. We’ve had a couple of challenges and now we are ready to go to the next level mentally [for the playoffs].”

The Tigers will play their final regular-season game on the road against Graceland University JV before competing in the Region IX Tournament as the fourth seed on Oct. 27.