Sean Dong (left) scored late, ensuring the Menace would get the win it needed on Saturday. Photo credit: Art Schramm Photography
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, July 19, 2014 – Riding a 10-match unbeaten streak, the Des Moines Menace heads into the postseason as the Premier Development League’s 2014 regular-season champion.
Before this weekend’s doubleheader against WSA Winnipeg, the Menace knew it needed two home wins to clinch the title. On the heels of a 5-0 triumph last night, Des Moines (12-1-1) got the job done with a goal in each half of tonight’s 2-0 victory.
Des Moines is 6-0-1 at Valley Stadium – the site of the PDL Playoffs’ Central Conference championship next Friday and Saturday. The Menace becomes only the third team to claim a pair of regular-season PDL titles.
“We should take a lot of pride in this accomplishment,” Menace head coach Mike Jeffries said. “We’re feeling good about ourselves and feeling prepared for the playoffs next weekend at home.”
Des Moines has outscored PDL foes 32-7, with an eye-popping 24-4 advantage during this streak, which started June 14 at Thunder Bay.
Tonight’s goals came from Michael Semenza and Sean Dong. Semenza opened the scoring in the sixth minute, putting away a diving rebound header after goalkeeper Lucas DelGrosso popped up Jonny Macadam’s attempt.
Dong, who grew up in Winnipeg, iced the match with his first goal of the PDL season. After collecting an aerial pass from A.J. Jeffries, Dong controlled the ball with a touch and let loose on a 40-yard bomb that caught everyone sleeping.
The announced crowd of 3,711 roared enthusiastically, confident that the Menace would close the remaining nine minutes for the title-clinching result.
“All season long, we’ve had great support from our fans here in Des Moines,” Semenza said. “We’ve got the crowd behind us. This weekend definitely helps our confidence. Everyone seems to be playing at the top of their game.”
In the space of one week, the Menace has cemented the best record in the Heartland Division (last Saturday), the Central Conference (Tuesday) and the league.
This year’s team joins the undefeated 2002 Menace as PDL regular-season champion. The Michigan Bucks (2008 and 2012) and the Jackson Chargers (1998 and 1999) are the only other PDL franchises to win a pair of regular-season titles.
“I’m happy for the guys and for the organization,” Mike Jeffries said. “It was an exciting night and an exciting weekend. Every player can look back on this, and know they played a role in this championship.”
The Menace edges the Seacoast United Phantoms and the defending postseason champion Austin Aztex (both 11-1-2) for the regular-season title. Des Moines preps for its 12th playoff appearance, looking for the franchise’s second playoff championship (2005).
MAN of the MATCH: Michael Semenza, for his second goal in as many nights. Semenza is a native of Encinitas, Calif., who plays collegiately for St. Mary’s in his home state.
UP NEXT: The Menace hosts the PDL Central Conference’s championship weekend next Friday and Saturday (July 25-26). Friday’s semifinal action starts with a 4:30 matchup between the St. Louis Lions and the Michigan Bucks; the Menace hosts K-W United FC at 7:30. The conference final is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, with the winner advancing to the PDL Playoffs’ semifinals on Aug. 1.
Match: WSA Winnipeg at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, July 19, 2014
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Weather: 70s, clear skies
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 1 1 2
WSA 0 0 0
MENACE – Michael Semenza 6:00; Sean Dong (A.J. Jeffries) 81:00
Stats Summary: MENACE / WSA
Shots: 21 / 3
Saves: 0 / 3
Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
Fouls: 9 / 16
Offside: 1 / 3
Des Moines Menace 2014 Schedule (12-1-1 PDL)
Saturday, May 10 # Imperio W, 3-0
Wednesday, May 14 ^ Real Colorado Foxes W, 3-0
Saturday, May 17 at Springfield Demize W, 2-0
Sunday, May 25 at St. Louis Lions W, 2-0
Wednesday, May 28 ^ MN United FC (NASL) L, 0-1
Saturday, May 31 # MN United FC Reserves W, 1-0
Saturday, June 7 Chicago Inferno W, 3-0
Friday, June 13 at Thunder Bay Chill L, 1-3
Saturday, June 14 at Thunder Bay Chill W, 3-2
Saturday, June 21 Springfield Demize W, 4-0
Saturday, June 28 Thunder Bay Chill W, 1-0
Sunday, June 29 Thunder Bay Chill W, 2-1
Saturday, July 5 at WSA Winnipeg W, 2-0
Sunday, July 6 at WSA Winnipeg W, 3-0
Saturday, July 12 St. Louis Lions T, 1-1
Tuesday, July 15 at Springfield Demize W, 1-0
Friday, July 18 WSA Winnipeg W, 5-0
Saturday, July 19 WSA Winnipeg W, 2-0
Friday, July 25 ! K-W United FC 7:30 p.m. at Valley Stadium
All game times are central
! = PDL Playoffs | ^ = Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup | # = Exhibition
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. In its 21st season, the Menace men’s side competes in the 64-team United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL). The Menace’s women’s team played in the 2013 Women’s Premier Soccer League playoffs, 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.
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