The Des Moines Menace opened the 2009 regular season with a 2-1 victory over Premier Development League newcomer Rochester (Minn.) tonight at Valley Stadium.
Jason Griffiths scored the game-winner in the 54th minute, putting a penalty kick in the back of the net. The Menace came on strong in the second half, outshooting the Thunder 10-4, after outshooting the visitors 6-5 in the first 45 minutes.
Menace head coach Casey Mann was pleased with the improvements his team made during the game.
"I'm happy that by the end of the game we were creating more opportunities," Mann said. "I thought we played with a lot more rhythm as the game went on."
Des Moines took the lead in the 18th minute, when Ben Taylor scored off an assist from Tim Crone.
Rochester, playing its first-ever PDL game, quickly responded. Brian Pederson connected on a PK just three minutes later to knot the game.
While Mann said that every one of his players was a difference maker tonight, he recognized the contributions of goalkeeper Sean Molony, who showed good composure in his Menace debut.
Mann, in his fifth year as the Menace's head coach, also gave props to key substitutions who took charge in the second half. Drake teammates Michael Thaden and Hunter Kennedy each played the final 45 minutes, while Jonathan Koshko played 61 minutes off the bench, bolstering the Menace defense.
Tonight's match, played in front of an opening-night crowd of 3,444, was the first of four U.S. Open Cup qualifying matches the Menace plays to start the season.
UP NEXT: The Menace sees its first road action, playing in Springfield, Mo., on Wednseday. The match against the Demize starts at 5:30 p.m. at Cooper Complex.
The Menace will be back at Valley Stadium next Saturday (May 16), hosting the Real Colorado Foxes, the Heartland Division's other expansion club, at 7:30 p.m.
MENACE USASA, 20s TEAMS WIN: The Menace went 3-for-3 today, sweeping a triple-header at Valley Stadium. Led by a pair of goals from Tomas Boltnar, the Menace claimed a 4-1 win over FC Indiana, to advance in the U.S. Open Cup qualifying action for USASA (United States Adult Soccer Association). The Menace 20s followed this up with a 5-1 win over their International League competition.