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Menace PDL outlasts alumni, 4-1

Members of both teams posed for this photo before the PDL sides 4-1 win over the alumni.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, July 16, 2011 – Des Moines Menace past met Menace present tonight at Valley Stadium, and youth eventually prevailed in a battle of the ages.

The Des Moines Menace’s Premier Development League team defeated the Menace Alumni, 4-1, on Blank Children’s Hospital Night. The exhibition celebrated the team’s former players, who held their own against Laurie Calloway’s squad.

“Fantastic. I really enjoyed it,” said Menace Alumni coach/player Neathan Gibson, the PDL team’s assistant coach who starred for the Menace in 2002. “Just all-around fun, and the boys (alumni) did well. They actually came out and competed. I thought they did fantastic, and the adrenaline helped a bit.”

Sporting forest-green jerseys with the Menace’s original logo, Gibson’s team featured members of every previous Menace team (1994-2010). Up to the challenge of facing the younger and fitter youngsters, the alums had the same amount of first-half shots (six) as the PDL side, which they held scoreless until the 43rd minute.

Husref Jupic assisted John Sosa’s first-half goal, and he tallied back-to-back goals in the 68th and 70th minutes, after Orin Branker scored in the 60th.

“It’s an honor to play (the alumni),” said Jupic, who was three years old when the Menace began. “These guys have been through everything we have, and so much more.”

Jupic said he especially enjoyed the opportunity to play against Tomas Boltnar (2002-2008), the Menace’s franchise player who until earlier this year was the PDL’s all-time scoring king. As a Menace Academy coach, Boltnar guided Jupic’s high-school-aged club teams.

“Tomas was my biggest role model growing up, and it was great to play on the same field in a game like this, in front of the Menace fans,” Jupic said.

The Menace Alumni prevented the shutout on a spectacular goal from an unlikely source. In the game’s final seconds, goalkeeper Matt Wade scored on a diving header, set up by a Nick Foster (2009) corner kick. The ball got past the Menace’s mascot, the Maniac, who subbed in to take Jhojan Obando’s post in the Menace goal for the one minute of stoppage time.

Before Wade’s late heroics, the old-timers’ best scoring chance was a near-miss by Kevin Graving, who in the 64th minute beat a defender and fired a left-footed shot that hit the near post.

Graving, a member of the first six Menace teams, etched his name in Menace lore when he scored the first goal in franchise history, more than 17 years ago.

“It’s just fun to even get a chance at my age (41),” said Graving. “The Menace is a great club, and it’s fun to see how they’ve grown and expanded through the years. It’s just a great place to see great soccer, and I’m glad to be part of it.”

For Graving, the experience took on special meaning, as part of the game’s proceeds went to Blank Children’s Hospital. Graving’s oldest child, Sam, spent his first three days at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, in May 1996. To this day, he carries gratitude for the doctors and nurses who put his family at ease.

PLAYOFF HUNT: Vying for a postseason berth, the Menace (10-4-0, 30 points) closes the regular season next weekend, with a July 23 home date against Kansas City and a trip to St. Louis the next day. The team’s playoff chances hinge on earning a pair of wins and getting some help from Real Colorado (11-1-2, 35 points) and Thunder Bay (11-2-1, 34 points), who battle each other in Canada on July 22-23.

MR. B MAN of the MATCH goes to: Husref Jupic, who scored twice in a two-mute period and tallied one assist. Jupic, a former Iowa High School Player of the Year (Des Moines Hoover) and a junior-to-be at Western Illinois, holds three assists during league play.

UP NEXT: In the team’s final regular-season home action, the Menace hosts the Kansas City Brass on Saturday, July 23. Fans are encouraged to help the Menace paint Valley Stadium red on Fan Appreciation Night, presented by Frito-Lay. Any fan wearing red gets a $5 ticket for the 7:30 p.m. match.
The team hits the road the next day, taking on the St. Louis Lions at 5 p.m.
Match: Des Moines Menace vs. Des Moines Menace Alumni
Date: Saturday, July 16, 2011
Competition: Exhibition
Venue: Valley Stadium in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 90s, Sunny

Scoring Summary:     1   2   F
MENACE                      1    3    4
ALUMNI                        0   1    0
MENACE: John Sosa (Husref Jupic) 43:00; Orin Branker (Coady Andrews) 60:00; Jupic 68:00; Jupic 70:00
ALUMNI: Matt Wade (Nick Foster) 90:00

Stats Summary: MENACE / ALUMNI
Shots: 21 / 13
Saves: 3 / 10
Corner Kicks: 8 / 1
Fouls: 3 / 3
Offside: 4 / 1
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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