In a season of high expectations, the Des Moines Menace women showed just how bright their future is.
A year after blazing to a 7-1-0 record and the 2012 Women’s League Soccer championship in its debut season, the Menace transferred to the more competitive Women’s Premier Soccer League.
Advancing to the Midwest Division’s championship game, the Menace women showed they were up to the challenge.
“It was a good season,” said Menace head coach Kevin Schalk reflecting on a 6-4-0 year. “We finished with a winning record and made some noise in the playoffs.”
The Menace ended on a high note, unleashed a fury of goals on the top-seeded Ohio Galaxies in the first round of the playoffs. The host Galaxies had collected a 7-1 record over the regular season, including a 4-0 ending streak with a 20-1 scoring margin.
Vanessa Batista started the scoring storm with a pair of strikes in the 56th and 60th minutes to put the Menace firmly in control. Haley Helverson put the 4-1 victory out of reach with a duo of demoralizing breakaway scores in the 66th and 74th minutes.
“The win against Ohio was special,” Schalk said. “It was the most excited I’ve ever seen the girls.”
With an upset over the favored hosts, the Menace earned a spot in the Midwest final the following afternoon. Taking on the St. Louis-based Fire and Ice Soccer Club, the Menace held together for more than 70 minutes before conceding a pair of scores just two minutes apart to Illinois State standout Rachel Tejada.
“The playoffs were great,” Schalk said. “Last year we were left with kind of an empty feeling. The playoffs were a reward, a chance to play more games, play more soccer.”
A second-straight winning season and a second-place division finish aren’t bad for a team that appeared on the brink of playoff elimination during the final third of the season.
In fact, the Menace’s season didn’t start out looking memorable. In a bout between fellow WPSL new-comers on May 26, Des Moines was blanked by the Kansas City Shock and began the season on the wrong end of a lopsided 3-0 decision.
Bouncing back, Des Moines earned its first WPSL victory on June 8 against the Madison 56ers, 2-1. The very next day, the Menace arrived at scenic Teamwork Acres to claim vengeance on the rival Shock.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, the Menace returned the shutout favor to Kansas City. Co-captain Jordan Bishop put the Menace ahead with an early top-shelf goal, and the Menace bulged the net with three second-half scores, sending the previously unbeaten Shock home with a 4-0 thrashing.
“The win against Kansas City was definitely one of the highlights of the season,” said Schalk. “The girls felt they needed to prove something and did it in a big way.”
Following their shocking beat-down of Kansas City, the Menace women stumbled at home for the first time in franchise history on June 22. Allowing two goals to the Quad City Eagles in the opening 25 minutes, the Menace found itself down 2-1 at halftime and was unable to find the net in the second half. The loss marked the first home non-win in Menace women’s history and sent the team into postseason uncertainty.
“We just weren’t playing consistent soccer,” said Schalk of the team. “We would play well for 10 or 15 minutes, then not.”
With Des Moines’ postseason berth hanging in the balance, the Menace set off on its final road trip of the season. With a win at either Madison or Quad City, a playoff position would be secured.
Unfortunately, the woes continued for the Menace in Madison, Wis., where the 56ers turned the tables on the Menace, claiming a 2-1 victory on a late goal in an eerily familiar fashion. The July 5 loss left the Menace in a win-or-go-home situation with I-80 rival Quad City less than 24 hours after being dropped by Madison.
Responding to the pressure, the Menace women claimed more than a playoff spot on Saturday June 6; they claimed redemption. With the most meaningful goal of the season, Bishop found the net in the 50th minute and gave the Menace its first playoff berth as well as revenge against the lone in-state rival.
“The road trip really helped pull us together,” said Schalk. “The girls really bonded during it and it showed on the field.”
In a season of highs and lows, the second-year Menace women didn’t back down from any challenge. They fought and overcame difficulties. Challenging for a division title in their first season, the Des Moines Menace women showed they had found a league worthy of their talents in the much more competitive WPSL.
When the second half arrived and players began to tire, the Menace started to shine. Des Moines scored 10 of its 13 goals in the second half of games, holding a scoring advantage of 10-6 in the second stanza.
FIRST-TIME OPEN CUP
The Menace women competed in their first-ever National Women’s Open Cup on June 25-27 in Overland Park, Kan. Des Moines finished third in the tournament after tying with the Kansas City Shock and falling by two goals to the Kansas City Dynamos and the eventual WPSL runner-up Houston Aces. Houston lost in the July 28 league final to the San Diego Sea Lions, 2-1.
With so many standout players making up the Menace women’s team, assigning the postseason awards was challenging. But only six walked away with honors. Find out who, by clicking here: Women's Team Awards
Starting a new tradition, girls from the 2013 women’s team were highlighted every week with Spotlight video interviews and feature stories at MenaceSoccer.com. Learn more about the girls who made up in inaugural WPSL team: Player Spotlights
Another first for the women’s team this year was the naming of Women of the Match honors, sponsored by Seneca Companies. Captain Jordan Bishop ran away with the top honor, receiving four tributes throughout the year. Bishop also tied for the points lead with two goals and an assist.
An in-state, in-division rivalry has returned to the Des Moines Menace. The Menace and the Quad City Eagles (Riverdale) have reignited the Iowa rivalry, 14 years after the last All-Iowa competition between the Sioux City Breeze and the Menace PDL team.
Both sides took something special from the other this season. On June 22, the Eagles snapped the Menace women’s perfect all-time record with a 2-1 victory. On July 6, the Menace ended the Eagles season, sneaking out of Riverdale with a 1-0 triumph that removed Quad City from postseason contention.
COLLEGE TEAMMATES “GOPHER” COMMUNITY AWARD
A pair of local Golden Gophers made a lot of noise with the Menace. Mackenzie Misel, an Ankeny native and former Iowa Rush standout, and Haley Helverson, a native of West Des Moines and West Des Moines/Johnston-Urbandale soccer product, are teammates at NCAA power Minnesota. They made their presence felt, on and off the field, this summer. Misel and Helverson shared the team’s 2013 Community Relations Award.
Both had the chance to face their former clubs in June. Mackenzie Misel scored against her former club in a June 15 exhibition, and Helverson showed strong play during a scrimmage against her former WDMSC/JUSC team.
BABIES ON THE WAY
Great news in the Wylie household shortened the season for the team’s most-senior co-captain. Midfielder Maggie Wylie and husband BJ are expecting twins! Wylie left for the season after contributing heavily in each of her final two games, scoring against Madison on June 8 and assisting against Kansas City on June 9. The Morningside grad, whose likeness is featured on the right side of MenaceSoccer.com, holds an 8-1 record while playing with the Menace.
This story, written by Menace intern Jordan Guy, was posted on July 30, 2013.
Des Moines Menace 2013 WPSL Schedule (6-4-0 WPSL: Home 3-1 Away 3-3)
Saturday, May 18 WSA Winnipeg (E) W, 3-2
Saturday, May 25 at St. Louis (F) W, 3-0
Sunday, May 26 at Kansas City Shock L, 0-3
Saturday, June 8 Madison 56ers W, 2-1
Sunday, June 9 Kansas City Shock W, 4-0
Saturday, June 15 St. Louis (F) W, 3-0
Saturday, June 15 Iowa Rush (E) W, 2-1
Saturday, June 22 Quad City Eagles L, 1-2
Tuesday, June 25 at Kanas City Shock (OC) T, 1-1
Wednesday, June 26 Houston Aces (OC) L, 1-3
Thursday, June 27 Kansas City Dynamos (OC) L, 0-2
Friday, July 5 at Madison 56ers L, 1-2
Saturday, July 6 at Quad City Eagles W, 1-0
Saturday, July 13 at Ohio Galaxies (P) W, 4-1
Sunday, July 14 Fire and Ice (P) L, 0-2
All game times are central; E = Exhibition; F = Forfeit;
OC = National Women’s Open Cup, played in Overland Park, Kan.;
P = WPSL Playoffs, played in Centerville, Ohio
*St. Louis dropped out of the WPSL, so all St. Louis games are counted as 3-0 victories
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. The Menace’s women’s team joined the Women’s Premier Soccer League in 2013, after debuting as the Women’s League Soccer 2012 champions. 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.