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Menace headed to PDL Playoffs!

Lebogang Moloto (right, celebrating a goal with Brady Blankenship) emerged the hero in the playoff-clinching win.
ST. PETERS, Mo. – Sunday, July 24, 2011 – Premier Development League Playoffs, here we come.

The Des Moines Menace clinched a postseason berth today by the slimmest of margins, getting past the St. Louis Lions, 1-0. The win at Tony Glavin Soccer Complex closes the Menace’s regular season with a record of 12-4-0 (36 points), just edging Real Colorado (11-2-3, 36 points) for the Heartland Division’s second and final playoff spot.

“We’re just ecstatic…A big relief,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway. “The guys are magnificent. I’m very, very pleased with their performance and proud of them.”

Entering the match, Calloway and his team knew their only ticket to the playoffs was a win on the final day of the PDL regular season. They got the required victory, thanks to a first-half goal from Lebogang Moloto, assisted by John Sosa.

Des Moines’ season continues, as a result of a tie-breaker (more league wins) over Real Colorado – a team the Menace did not face this season.

Next up for the Menace: a PDL Central Conference semifinal against the home-team Michigan Bucks on Friday. The match at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Mich., is a clash between two of the PDL’s most storied franchises.

The winner advances to Saturday’s conference final, facing either Heartland Division champ Thunder Bay or the winner of Tuesday’s play-in match between Chicago Fire PDL and Forest City London, the teams that finished in the Great Lakes Division’s two spots, behind first-place Michigan.

“It feels awesome,” said Moloto. “I don’t even know how to describe it. The mood right now is amazing. Everyone’s happy and prepared for the playoffs. This weekend’s brought the team together. We knew we needed two wins, and this was not an easy game.”

Moloto headed in Sosa’s free kick in the 16th minute. After the early score, the visitors played conservatively, grinding out a defensive win, less than 24 hours after an offensive outburst in a 5-1 home win over Kansas City.

You could call Moloto a Lions-killer. Going back to last season, the South African nicknamed “Tsunami” has scored in all but one of his six career matches against St. Louis.

Sosa, the Menace’s free-kick specialist, has 10 assists – good for second in the PDL. With six goals apiece, Sosa and Moloto share the lead among active Menace players.

“The guys have stepped up,” said Calloway. “We’ve done our part, and things have gone our way.”

Des Moines’ 12 wins – the second-most in club history, tying the 2003-2005 Menace and trailing only the 2002 club that went 15-0-3 – have come on four three-game winning streaks.

The Menace makes the franchise’s 11th playoff appearance in 18 seasons. Friday’s conference semifinal marks the team’s fifth postseason meeting with Michigan; the most recent encounter was part of Des Moines’ run to the 2005 PDL championship.

“They’re very solid,” Calloway said of the Bucks. “We’ll do the best we can. I think our team can beat anybody on any given day.”

MR. B MAN of the MATCH goes to: Lebogang Moloto, who has scored 11 goals in two seasons with the Menace. Moloto is a junior-to-be for NAIA power Lindsey Wilson (Ky.).

Match: Des Moines Menace vs. St. Louis Lions
Date: Sunday, July 24, 2011
Competition: Premier Development League regular-season match
Venue: Tony Glavin Soccer Complex in St. Peters, Mo.
Kickoff: 5 p.m. CDT
Weather: 90s, overcast with some first-half sprinkles

Scoring Summary:     1   2   F
MENACE                      1    0    1
StL                               0   0    0
MENACE: Lebogang Moloto (John Sosa) 16:00

Stats Summary: MENACE / StL
Shots: 7 / 3
Saves: 1 / 6
Corner Kicks: 3 / 6
Fouls: 25 / 18
Offside: 7 / 1
Misconduct Summary: MENACE Yellow Cards: Brian Perez 44:00 StL Yellow Cards: Dean Lovegrove 31:00; Troy McKerrel

(12-4-0 regular season; 7-1-0 at home and 5-3-0 on the road)
** = exhibition match
# = U.S. Open Cup qualifying match
^ = U.S. Open Cup first round
% = PDL Central Conference semifinal
Saturday, May 14       vs. St. Louis Lions #                         W, 2-1
Tuesday, May 17         at Springfield Demize#                      W, 3-0
Saturday, May 21       vs. St. Louis Lions #                         W, 5-2
Wednesday, May 25   at Kansas City Brass #                       L, 1-2
Wednesday, June 1    at Kansas City Brass                          W, 5-2
Saturday, June 4       vs. Des Moines International**       W, 14-0
Tuesday, June 7         at WSA Winnipeg                               W, 2-0
Wednesday, June 8    at WSA Winnipeg                               W, 4-3
Friday, June 10           at Thunder Bay Chill                           L, 0-2
Saturday, June 11       at Thunder Bay Chill                           L, 0-3
Tuesday, June 14     vs. Chicago Fire PDL ^                    L, 0-1
Saturday, June 18     vs. Kansas City Brass                      W, 4-2
Saturday, June 25     vs. Winnipeg Lions**                        W, 5-0
Friday, July 1             vs. WSA Winnipeg                            W, 4-0                
Saturday, July 2         vs. WSA Winnipeg                            W, 3-1               
Friday, July 8             vs. Thunder Bay Chill                      L, 0-1               
Saturday, July 9         vs. Thunder Bay Chill                      W, 2-0               
Saturday, July 16       vs. Menace Alumni**                         W, 4-1               
Saturday, July 23       vs. Kansas City Brass                      W, 5-1
Sunday, July 24           at St. Louis Lions                                W, 1-0
Friday, July 29              at Michigan Bucks%                           7 p.m. CDT at Ultimate Soccer Arenas
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace competes in the 64-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of soccer in North America. The Menace plays its home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines. The organization promotes a healthy lifestyle through its popular youth programs, including the Menace Academy (select soccer for ages 9-19), camps, clinics and tournaments.
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