The Des Moines Menace will host the Premier Development League’s quarterfinal and semifinal playoff matches next weekend.
The Menace survived a late scare tonight at Valley Stadium, clinching the Heartland Division’s playoff championship with a 2-1 win over the Real Colorado Foxes. The team knew coming into tonight’s match that a win guaranteed the opportunity to host the next rounds of the postseason, on July 31 and Aug. 1.
Joe Salem scored the game-winning goal for the Menace, and the division’s regular-season champs held on for the win to advance to the PDL’s Elite Eight.
Goalkeeper Sean Molony and the Menace defense stood their ground, preserving the victory. Most of the 3,683 fans at Valley Stadium breathed a sigh of relief in the 88th minute, when a Real Colorado goal was nullified by an offsides call. Jeff Jennings appeared to tie the match with a header, but the score was called off when Drew Werth was whistled for the infraction.
“We all have confidence in ourselves,” said Molony, a native of Aurora, Colo., who knows many of the Foxes and counts Jennings as one of his best friends. “I had a feeling that (Werth) was offsides. We got the call we deserved. Our guys played hard, and sometimes calls go your way when you push hard.”
“Colorado put us under a lot of pressure. That was what a championship match should be,” Menace head coach Casey Mann said. “There was a lot of emotion. They’re a good team. We had our hands full.”
The Menace (12-1-4 overall) has won a season-high five straight matches going into next Friday’s 7:30 p.m. match against the Cary (N.C.) Clarets. The Chicago Fire PDL and the Ocean City (N.J.) Barons will face off in the other quarterfinal match at Valley Stadium. The winners advance to the following night’s 7:30 semifinal bout, fighting for the chance to play in the Aug. 8 PDL championship.
Des Moines is the top-seeded team for next weekend’s action in West Des Moines, and the only one of these four teams that claimed a division title in the regular season.
The Foxes end their inaugural season with a record of 9-6-3, after knocking off defending league champion Thunder Bay, 1-0, at Valley Stadium last night.
Real Colorado grabbed the early lead tonight, when Julian Donaldson capitalized on a penalty kick in the fourth minute. The Menace’s Cameron Jordan answered with a PK of his own, in the 27th minute.
Salem found the back of the net 11 minutes after Jordan tied the match. Jack Pearson assisted Salem’s second goal of 2009. The 2008 all-Central Conference pick has scored in the 38th minute of each of the team’s last two matches, including last Saturday’s 3-0 regular-season finale win over St. Louis.