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Garcia’s golden goal lifts Bobcats in 2OT

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - The Marshalltown boys’ soccer team swarms senior Fernando Garcia (14) after his game-winning goal in the second overtime period of Tuesday’s match against Johnston at Leonard Cole Field. Garcia scored both goals as the Bobcats won 2-1.

Richard Toe was racing down the left side of Leonard Cole Field at top speed. Without looking up too much, he saw he had an open man in the middle. Sending a pass across the penalty box, the ball found its way to Fernando Garcia. After taking a half-second to get his composure, he found the back of the net for the second time. The game was over.

Wheeling away in celebration with his teammates hot on his heels, Garcia and the Bobcat boys’ soccer team pulled off a 2-1 victory over the Johnston Dragons in double overtime to move to 3-1 on the season.

Head coach Scott Johannes was elated with the way his team fought.

“The intensity of these boys, they knew they wanted it,” Johannes said. “We just wanted to protect our field, so that’s where we didn’t want to give up.”

The Bobcats started the game slowly, as did Johnston. With both teams trying to feel each other out, the first half was not action-packed.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Marshalltown senior goalkeeper Ernesto Tellez, top right, deflects the ball away from Johnston’s Amer Omic (18) during Tuesday’s soccer match at Leonard Cole Field.

But early in the second half, there was a near-goal for the Dragons. After multiple attempts on goal, an acrobatic goal-line clearance from central defender Mario Meraz saved the Bobcats from conceding. It was far from the only time the Bobcats relied on strong play from the team’s center backs to keep the score 0-0 in the second half. Noah Hermanson made multiple last-ditch tackles to save goals, and team captain Ernesto Tellez recorded seven saves.

Johannes said the defense was key to the Bobcats’ win.

“Those two guys that play in the middle, they have been doing that all season long,” Johannes said. “They have both stepped up. We heard about [Wilmont Manneh] and we didn’t want to put a man on him, we just wanted to know where he was. And those guys were able to do that, and it was phenomenal to watch.”

Despite Johnston coming close multiple times to scoring, Marshalltown began to present more of a threat on the counter-attack. With just over 10 minutes left in regulation, the Bobcats had a throw in. The ball found its way to Garcia. After taking a touch, Garcia fired a quick shot with his left foot from the edge of the area. The shot caught Johnston’s goalie off-guard before sneaking into the goal after a kiss off the near post.

After a brief spell of jubilation, it was time for the Bobcats to defend their lead. But with less than five minutes left, the Dragons pounced on a loose ball in the penalty box. Forward David Myers swept it in to tie the game up — setting up overtime. After a dull first overtime period, both teams had plenty of opportunities in the second overtime before Toe turned a routine clearance into the game’s final passage of play.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

As the rain fell, the Bobcats were joyous. Toe and Garcia had delivered the win that truly kicked off their season.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

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