This shot by Chris Nkoghe saved the day for Menace. Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Friday, July 15, 2016 – Late heroics by Chris Nkoghe, Marcus McCrary and Aaron Orban kept the Kum & Go Kup in Iowa.
With the trophy on the line tonight at Valley Stadium, the Des Moines Menace built a 3-0 halftime lead and Toledo United FC stormed back to tie the match. McCrary assisted Nkoghe’s 85th-minute game-winner, and Orban preserved the Menace’s 4-3 victory with a pair of clutch saves.
This exhibition between postseason-bound teams opened a doubleheader weekend for the Menace, which closes the regular season tomorrow against St. Louis. Des Moines – the three-peat champion of the Premier Development League’s Heartland Division – held on against a first-year Ohio side that prepares to host the Premier League of America Tournament.
“Amazing,” Nkoghe said in the moments before the stadium went dark for postgame fireworks. “I got a little scared when they came back to tie it, but I knew we would get that goal to win it.”
After intercepting a pass at midfield, Nkoghe played the ball to McCrary. Speeding down the right wing on the counter-attack, McCrary found a sprinting Nkoghe, who was surrounded by four defenders yet somehow struck a high-flying goal from the top of the 18-yard box to beat Toledo goalkeeper Billy Larsen.
“I got a great run from Marcus. He played it back to me, and all it took was one touch to score,” Nkoghe explained. “The crowd went wild – a sensational feeling.”
Orban rose to the challenge in the 89th and 90th minutes, when it appeared Toledo might just send this trophy match into a shootout.
With a pair of Menace defenders closing on him, Jake Kirchoff-Sleet created a shot that Orban dove to deflect. In the final minute of regulation, Amadou Cisse found himself in a 1v1 with Orban, who came out and reflexively thwarted the breakaway, to the audible relief of the crowd.
Des Moines’ first-half goals came from T.J. Ifaturoti, Ricky Hoegg and Ryan Masch. Nkoghe assisted Ifaturoti in the sixth minute and Hoegg in the 34th. McCrary found Masch for a beautiful goal in stoppage time.
In what could be the Menace’s goal of the year, Masch received McCrary’s cross with his chest, and he gave the fans a bicycle-kick goal that sailed into the upper-90.
Toledo United FC did not go down without a fight. Jeff Kelly scored in the 61st and 70th minutes, and Tom Cowling evened things in the 77th.
Nkoghe was one of nine players who saw their first action with the Menace tonight.
The Menace has won the Kum & Go Kup all three years of the trophy’s life. The team’s previous Kup foe was Springfield’s PDL team, which this season is in a new division and a new city (St. Louis).
Des Moines is 9-2-2 in PDL play; Toledo is 6-2-1 in PLA action, heading into tomorrow’s match at RWB Adria (Ill.) to determine the West Division winner.
Former Menace captain Jack Pearson saw his first action with the Menace since 2012. Pearson, a defender whose first stint with the Menace came in 2009-10, went the full 90 minutes tonight.
MAN of the MATCH: Aaron Orban for his game-saving saves. Orban is a Traverse City, Mich., native who attends Davenport in his home state.
UP NEXT: The Menace wraps up the PDL regular season tomorrow, hosting the St. Louis Lions on Fan Appreciation Night.
Match: Toledo United FC at Des Moines Menace
Date: Friday, July 15, 2016
Venue: Valley Stadium (turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 3 1 4
TUFC 0 3 3
MENACE: T.J. Ifaturoti (Chris Nkoghe) 6:00; Ricky Hoegg (Nkoghe) 34:00; Masch (Marcus McCrary) 45:00+; Nkoghe (McCrary) 85:00
TUFC: Jeff Kelly 61:00; J. Kelly (Camden Buescher) 70:00; Tom Cowling 77:00;
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. In its 23rd season, the Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL). In its fifth season, the Menace women’s team is part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). With loyal support, the Menace men’s and women’s teams play their home games at the Valley Stadium in West Des Moines to provide family-fun entertainment. The Menace organization provides the growth of the game of soccer in Iowa with their youth soccer programs, including Junior Menace (ages 3-9), Menace Youth Academy (ages six and older), and youth tournaments, camps and clinics.
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