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Stylistic shift continues to cash in

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Marshalltown High School seniors Fernando Garcia (14) and Max Gantz (10) share in the celebration of Garcia’s icebreaking goal during the first half of Tuesday’s CIML Iowa Conference soccer match at Leonard Cole Field. The Bobcats defeated Ankeny 3-0.

With the Marshalltown boys’ soccer team in the middle of a dreadful spell of form in April, coach Scott Johannes said he decided to shift some players around and mess with the team shape a little bit.

Over the last five games, the change has worked — Marshalltown (8-8) has won four of five, including Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Ankeny (9-5).

But Johannes isn’t interested in giving away the secrets to his new tactic, which at times features just one player in the center of midfield.

“Last weekend in Mason City we played around in with a different formation,” Johannes said. “We stuck with it tonight. It was really an experiment, I can’t give out my secret.”

The Bobcats have found a way to make it work, thanks in large part to the strong play of junior Richard Toe in a free role. Since moving inside from the wing to take a role just behind the starting striker(s) (Fernando Garcia or Zack Robson). Toe scored two goals tonight to push his season-long tally to 12, the best mark on the team.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Marshalltown High School senior Richard Toe (22) celebrates with Zach Robson (21) after Toe’s first of two goals during Tuesday’s CIML Iowa Conference soccer match at Leonard Cole Field.

Toe’s performances have taken some attention away from what has turned out to be an astute shift from one of the Bobcats’ best creative outlets — senior midfielder Max Gantz.

Gantz has played for most of his career with the Bobcats as a central midfielder, but when Johannes was looking for a spark in attack, he approached Gantz about playing out on the wing.

It’s been a match made in heaven, Johannes said.

“We moved Max out there and it’s like he found a home,” Johannes said. “He’s really comfortable. He did well in the middle, but at the same time he was falling down a lot and just slipping for whatever reason, whether it was too many bodies on him or what. But outside, he’s able to move the ball around.”

It was Gantz who created the first goal 25 minutes into the first half, receiving a pass from Toe and curling in a cross to the penalty area. Garcia stooped his head to reach the ball and nodded it past the Ankeny goalie. Just three minutes later, Gantz helped the Bobcats earn a throw-in deep in the Ankeny half. Garcia threw it in to Robson, who worked his way past a Hawk defender before putting a low cross in for Toe to poke past the keeper. The quickfire double put Marshalltown in a comfortable position for the second half.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

Ankeny came out with more attacking push, but strong saves from senior Ernesto Tellez kept the Hawks out. Then, with 25 minutes to play, Robson, Jose Cisneros Jr. and Toe combined to set Toe free on goal. He converted to put Marshalltown 3-0 and out of sight, with momentum at the highest point for the Bobcats since the team’s upset win over Johnston early in the season.

“From here on, these are the ones that really count,” Johannes said.

Marshalltown will hope to keep the good times rolling against 1-10 Fort Dodge Friday at 7:30 p.m. for Senior Night.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

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