The Des Moines Menace women entered their inaugural season with lofty goals. They finished it as 2012 Women League’s Soccer champions.
Jumping into a second-year, five-team league, the Menace wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Announcing the team’s berth on December 14 gave head coach Kevin Schalk a late start on the recruiting trail. Nevertheless, Schalk was confident he could pull together a contender.
“I thought that we would challenge for a title,” said Schalk. “Expectations of a second-place finish would be respectable. We obviously wanted to come in and have a winning record and show the community.”
The Menace women were better than respectable. They were dominant. Winning seven of eight matches, Schalk’s side outscored the competition by a staggering 41-5 margin, with goals coming from 14 team members.
“I kind of knew what we had going in,” said Schalk, who quickly spread news of this exciting opportunity for the region’s top players to train in a professional setting. “I knew we had good talent. You just never know until you get them all together.”
The program’s debut was a good sign of things to come.
A buzz filled the air at Valley Stadium on May 19, as fans filed in to see the Menace women embark on a new era for soccer in Iowa. Maggie Kukuk delivered the team’s first two goals in a 4-0 debut win over FC Indiana (Lafayette) that gave Schalk and his team reason for optimism.
They faced adversity in their next action – a rematch in Lafayette on June 2. The visitors fell behind in the first minute, and Tori Von Mende’s goal tied it in the 70th minute. Heading into second-half stoppage time, the teams remained deadlocked.
With what could be labeled the most pivotal goal of the season, Brittany Morgan launched a 20-yard free kick into the back of the net. Morgan’s heroics sent the Menace home with a dramatic 2-1 win.
“That first road game was important,” said Schalk. “By pulling that game out, it brought the team together, and they never looked back.”
Continuing to dominate, the team ran its record to 5-0-0, while posting a 25-2 goal differential. A win on July 15 would clinch the WLS crown in front of the home crowd at scenic Teamwork Acres in Waukee.
Led by Jennifer Dominguez’s hat trick, the Menace rolled FC Indiana (South Bend), 8-1, to claim the title on a steamy Sunday afternoon.
“It put legitimacy on what we’re trying to do,” said Schalk. “It shows our organization is going strong and going into the future.”
Winning the league outright in six matches was an impressive feat for the first-year team, but there were still two games to be played.
The undefeated Menace was seemingly unstoppable. However, the team would make its final roadtrip without veteran co-captains Kukuk and Jordan Bishop. With players adapting to new roles, the team’s winning streak came to an end in a 2-0 loss to the Cincy Lady Saints on July 21.
Bouncing back the next day, the Menace regained its groove ended on a high note. An 8-0 win over Fort Wayne Sport Club closed the season at 7-1-0.
“It’s a credit to all these programs that we got players from,” said Schalk. “They showed class and the organization and universities should take notice and be proud of the professionalism the girls showed.”
The inaugural Menace women exceeded expectations. They overcame challenges. They dominated the competition. Ultimately, they penned a successful first chapter for a new program in a decorated 19-year-old organization. The 2012 WLS champions set the scene for future success.
Spotlighting a few of the Menace’s key players, starting with three Iowa State teammates preparing for their junior seasons:
Leading the team in goals (seven) and assists (four, tied), Dominguez collected a team-high 18 points. To top off Dominguez’s contributions she registered the first-ever hat trick for the Menace in its 8-1 title-clinching win over FC Indiana (South Bend).
Morgan finished just behind Dominguez on the leader’s board. Scoring six goals and leading the assisting four more, Morgan was a key component to the Menace offense. Morgan’s season is highlighted by a stoppage time game-winning goal over FC Indiana (Lafayette).
Notching three goals and four assists, Stewart claimed 10 points from the Menace midfield. Demonstrated by the 40-yard bomb she hit on June 30 in the Menaces 3-0 home win over the Cincy Lady Saints, she is lethal from anywhere.
Morningside College graduate Kukuk served as a co-captain. Kukuk had three assists and three goals for nine points and holds an undefeated record when playing. She missed the final two matches for her marriage ceremony with new husband Brandon Wylie.
A graduate of Iowa State, Bishop and spent time with the Boston Breakers in the final season (2011) of Women’s Pro Soccer. In Des Moines this summer, Bishop was a staple in the Menace backfield and a co-captain of the team. Bishop tallied two goals and three assists, registering seven points.
Lazenby was the goalkeeping minutes leader for Des Moines this season. The other three keepers in the mix were Jessica Taldone, Andrea Swanson and Kalena Litch. Together, the four held opponents to just five goals in eight matches, a 0.625 goals against average as a unit.
QUEENS OF THE LEAGUE: Rolling over the competition and winning in convincing fashion became the expectation of the Iowa team. Claiming the title with two games to play seemed only fitting.
CRAZY EIGHTS: Pick a game, any game, and you would have a 50-50 shot that the Menace scored eight goals. The team blanked Fort Wayne Sport Club by identical 8-0 counts, and it scored a pair of 8-1 wins over FC Indiana (South Bend). Eight players earned more than seven points for the high-octane team, providing several matchup challenges for opposing defenses.
CYCLONE CITY: A common theme throughout the season was the domination by Iowa State players. The team’s top three points leaders and two more standouts (Bishop and Emily Goldstein) among the top 10 contributors is an illustration of the unit’s production for the Menace. Iowa State players scored in all seven matches that the Menace was able to find the net.
HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: Fans who supported the inaugural Menace were rewarded with exciting soccer. The Menace scored 23 goals in four home matches and allowed just one goal at home. FC Indiana scored in the 58th minute of the Menace’s July 15 home finale, after the WLS champs had already staked a 7-0 lead.
Final Results for the 2012 Des Moines Menace
(7-1-0 Women’s League Soccer; 4-0-0 at home, 3-1-0 on the road)
Saturday, May 19 FC Indiana (Lafayette) W, 4-0
Saturday, June 2 at FC Indiana (Lafayette) W, 2-1
Saturday, June 9 at FC Indiana (South Bend) W, 8-1
Saturday, June 30 Cincy Lady Saints W, 3-0
Saturday, July 14 Fort Wayne Sport Club W, 8-0
Saturday, July 15 FC Indiana (South Bend) W, 8-1
Saturday, July 21 at Cincy Lady Saints L, 2-0
Sunday, July 22 at Fort Wayne Sport Club W, 8-0
ABOUT THE MENACE WOMEN: As part of Women’s League Soccer (WLS), the Des Moines Menace women provides the highest level of competition in Iowa. Preparing for its 20th season as Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team, the Des Moines Menace competes in the 73-team Premier Development League (PDL), the highest amateur level of the United Soccer Leagues (USL). Both Menace teams play their home matches in a fun, family-friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.
The organization promotes healthy lifestyles through its popular youth programs, including the Menace Academy (select soccer for ages 9-19), camps, clinics and tournaments.
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