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Menace in midst of first-place battle

The Menace's Coady Andrews and Finn Jor go to the air in the last meeting between the Menace and Thunder Bay -- a 2-0 home win on July 9, 2011. These teams represented the Heartland Division in last year's postseason.
THUNDER BAY, Canada. – Friday, June 22, 2012 – In a struggle for the top spot in the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division, four teams separated by four points meet in a pair of matches tonight.

The Des Moines Menace (5-3-2) kicks off a Friday-Saturday doubleheader with frontrunner Thunder Bay (7-1-0). The arch-rivals clash at 7:30 EDT (6:30 CDT) the next two nights at the Chill’s Chapples Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Completing a Thursday-Friday doubleheader, Real Colorado (5-3-3) hosts Springfield (5-4-2) tonight at 7 o’clock MDT. The second-place Foxes leapfrogged the visiting Demize with a 3-0 win last night.

Heading into the weekend, the Heartland Division race looks like this, as these teams battle for two spots in the PDL playoffs.
Team
Points
GP
W
L
T
GF
GA
Thunder Bay Chill
21
8
7
1
0
21
2
Real Colorado Foxes
18
11
5
3
3
11
11
Des Moines Menace
17
10
5
3
2
18
12
Springfield Demize
17
11
5
4
2
14
13
St. Louis Lions
11
10
3
5
2
11
17
WSA Winnipeg
8
14
1
8
5
7
24
Kansas City Brass
6
6
2
4
0
8
11

With
the chance at a pair of upsets, Menace head coach Laurie Calloway has his plan in place.

“One game at a time,” said Calloway. “We’ll focus on Friday night. Hopefully we’ll put it together and get the three points.”

With six games remaining it its regular-season, the Menace is thirsty for the 18 remaining points. The hunt for a playoff berth is on, and recapturing first place this weekend would leave the Menace sitting well for its final four matches, which include a July 6-7 doubleheader against the Chill at Valley Stadium.

In its most recent PDL action, the Menace scratched out a 1-0 win at Springfield (Mo.) on June 14 – the team’s first shutout of the season. Tweaking the Menace’s typical attacking style mindset, Calloway feels a little better about entering the home turf of a Chill team that halfway through its season has outscored foes 21-2.

“We’ll approach it like we did the Springfield game, a bit more defensive-minded,” said Calloway. “Obviously Thunder Bay has a bit more to offer than Springfield, but we’ll play stingy defense and make the most of our chances.

“I think (the players) have been looking forward to this all season,” Calloway continued. “Thunder Bay’s the team we’ve got to beat. It’s our chance to crack that defense.”

RECAPPING LAST WEEK: Lebogang Moloto’s goal in the 13th minute earned the Menace a 1-0 result over the Demize on June 14. The win not only set the team a temporary first-place spot, but also gifted Laurie Calloway with his 49th win, crowning him the Menace’s new all-time wins leader.

The first-place Menace was quickly surpassed after the Chill took down WSA Winnipeg on the road 4-0 on Saturday and 1-0 on Sunday, earning six points en route to its current 21.

In a mid-season exhibition with Colorado Select last Saturday, the Menace rested its starters in the home contest. Led by Jeff Kyei and Maksym Kowal, whose scores came in the 37th and 56th minutes, the Menace topped Colorado 2-0 on Saturday night.

SCOUTING THUNDER BAY: Leading the division in points, goals scored, goals against average and wins, the Chill looks to be the Menace’s toughest opponent this season.

Fifth in the PDL in shots taken (34), Sullivan Oliveira leads the campaign for the Chill with five goals and two assists. Tied in points (12) is Juan Velez Rodriguez, whose contributions include four goals and four assists.

Chill head coach Tony Colistro has collected four division titles (2007-08, 2010-11) and one PDL championship (2008).

UP NEXT: Des Moines returns to Valley Stadium next Saturday (June 30) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff with the Springfield Demize. The teams try to settle the season series, after splitting 1-0 decisions in Missouri.

Prior to the men’s match is the Menace women’s second home game. The Menace women (3-0-0) take on the Cincy Saints at 4:30. The doubleheader – two games for the price of one – is presented by Powerade and VitaminWater.

ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. The Menace men’s side competes in the 73-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). In its inaugural season, the Menace’s women’s team is part of the five-team Women’s League Soccer. The Menace teams play their 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, Junior Menace and tournaments.
 
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