Congratulations to coach Tomas Boltnar and his U16 boys team -- four-time champions of Iowa Soccer Association's annual tournament. Photo credit: Terrisue Johnson
MUSCATINE, Iowa – Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015 – Every time they’ve taken the field for an Iowa State Cup match, they’ve left with a victory. The Menace Academy U16 boys have emphatically claimed four state championships, racking up 20 straight State Cup wins while outscoring their foes 94-11.
Their latest crowning came on Sunday at the Muscatine Soccer Complex. A 3-0 title-match triumph over Cedar River Soccer Association sends this talented group back to the U.S. Youth Soccer Regionals. A year after a runner-up Region II finish in Wisconsin, the team is hungry for another shot at the regional title (and the corresponding spot in nationals) next June in Indiana.
“I’m extremely proud and happy for our team,” said Menace Academy director of coaching Tomas Boltnar, who has guided this side since their U12 season. “This was a team win, and all players did their part in the State Cup.”
The Menace U16s’ fourth-straight title didn’t come without a challenge. After outscoring their pool-play counterparts 19-1 in three matches over the preceding two weekends at Cownie Soccer Park in Des Moines, the Menace found the going tough in its final two tests – both played in this eastern Iowa town on the Mississippi River.
In a rainy semifinal on Saturday, the Menace survived a Halloween scare against Sporting Iowa I, advancing by a 2-1 count. Alex Meza and Payne Hoyt delivered the Menace’s goals in the second half; and Sporting Iowa struck late in stoppage time.
Under sunny skies the next day, CRSA’s disciplined defense stymied the Menace early on, and the championship tilt remained scoreless 10 minutes into the second half.
The match turned in the Menace’s favor when Julius Cooper put away back-to-back goals. The first score came thanks to Eddy Fernandez, who won the ball in midfield, took a couple touches and used the outside of his right foot to set up Cooper for a break-away finish. Cooper maneuvered around the CRSA goalkeeper and slotted home the game-winner.
Soon after, Isai Diaz found himself open on the left wing and played a perfect ball to Cooper, who headed in a goal from the center of the box.
About ten minutes later, defender Luke Whitman collected the ball and barreled down the left side. Covering more than half the field, he turned the corner from the left flank, dribbled inside the box and set up Jordy Triana-Vazquez for a close-range tap-in that cemented the win.
The Menace’s usually impenetrable defense stood its ground, with goalkeeper Jacob Vilez collected the team’s 12th shutout in State Cup play.
Once again, the top-seeded Menace rose to the occasion while wearing a huge bull’s eye on their backs. Their opponents gave the defending champs their best shots, but nobody has yet taken down Boltnar’s behemoths in the Iowa Soccer Association’s tournament. With each year, they seem to find a way to get bigger and stronger. As the expectations keep rising, they continue to grow together and reach new heights.
“Because we were favored to win state, I think that it was even harder to get it done,” Boltnar said. “I felt there was extra pressure on our players. Overall, they did a great job dealing with it and they were very professional throughout the tournament. I’m happy for them to get another shot at regionals.”
Perhaps Hoyt, who scored the game-winner in the semis, put it best when describing the shared journey of this close-knit tribe.
“We’re not just a team,” Hoyt said. “We’re a family.”
Results, 2016 Iowa State Cup
Head coach: Tomas Boltnar
Team manager: Terrisue Johnson
ABOUT THE MENACE ACADEMY: The Des Moines Menace Youth Soccer Academy provides a fun and challenging soccer environment that allows players to grow as people and reach the best of their soccer abilities. The academy includes boys and girls teams ranging in age from U9 to U18. Players are from all over the Des Moines metro area, coming from diverse backgrounds. Academy members develop by learning skills and strategies at age-appropriate levels. Youth are exposed to the very best coaching and training on a consistent basis as they grow and mature.
The non-profit Menace Academy is part of the Des Moines Menace – Iowa’s premier men’s and women’s teams. The Menace promotes healthy lifestyles through popular youth programs that also include Junior Menace, camps, clinics and tournaments.