ROCHESTER, Minn. – June 28, 2009 – The Des Moines Menace still boasts the Premier Development League’s longest active unbeaten streak, and it still holds sole possession of first place in the Heartland Division.
Both claims were in jeopardy tonight, until Garrett Webb scored with five minutes left in regulation, lifting the Menace past the Rochester Thunder, 1-0, on the campus of Rochester Community and Technical College. The Menace has not lost in a year, reeling off an undefeated string of 15 matches.
After taking over the division’s top spot with last night’s 3-0 home win over Springfield, Des Moines (7-0-4, 25 points) maintains sole possession of first with tonight’s three road points. St. Louis (6-2-4, 22 points) enjoyed a brief share of first place after beating Thunder Bay, 1-0, in a match that concluded about the same time that the Menace and Thunder kicked things off tonight.
Head coach Casey Mann was quick to praise his team, which has won four in a row, including three straight shutouts.
“They’re in great spirits. It’s a huge team victory. Everyone pulled their weight.” Mann said. “It’s tough to go back-to-back (playing on consecutive days), and our guys are tired and sore. They gutted it out. It was a good PDL game, and Rochester is a good team, with a lot to play for.”
Rochester (5-6, 15 points) sits in fourth-place, between Real Colorado (6-4-2, 20 points) and Thunder Bay (3-3-3, 12 points). The division’s top three teams make the PDL playoffs, based on the points each team earns in its 16 regular-season matches.
The Menace has not lost since Thunder Bay dealt the team a 3-0 setback on July 4, 2008. Exactly one year later, these arch-rivals reunite on the same field, in an anticipated Independence Day showdown this Saturday at Valley Stadium.
“At this point in the season, it doesn’t matter who we play,” Mann said. “What matters is what we’re playing for. I’m proud of these guys. I hammer them all the time, because it’s a tough league. They continue to battle every day.”
Ben Taylor and Armin Mujdzic gave the Menace a spark off the bench in tonight’s second half, and they teamed up to create the opportunity for the game-winner. Taylor drove a long ball to Mujdzic, who hit Webb in stride as he sprinted to the goal. The Drake star put the ball inside the far post, in the 86th minute.
With tonight’s assist, Mujdzic has tallied a point in all five matches since he joined this year’s team. The Menace veteran (2002-2007) from Urbandale High School and Grand View College leads the team with 10 points, on four goals and a couple assists.
The Menace and the Thunder each recorded 10 shots in the contest, but Des Moines put eight shots on goal, compared to three for the home team. The Menace also had an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Tonight marked a rematch of the teams’ May 9 season opener at Valley Stadium, which ended in a 2-1 Menace win.
COMING UP: The Menace welcomes the 2008 PDL champion Thunder Bay Chill on Saturday (July 4). Sponsored by Powerade, the Independence Day Celebration kicks off with a free picnic at 5 p.m., and a fireworks extravaganza follows the 7:30 match.
The team plays at Valley Stadium each of the next three Saturdays, closing out its home schedule against Springfield (July 11) and St. Louis (July 18). Des Moines has two more road matches, returning to Rochester on July 8 and to Kansas City on July 16.