ROCHESTER, Minn. – One more win, and the Des Moines Menace is in the Premier Development League playoffs. Two more wins, and the team claims the Heartland Division championship.
The Menace is a step away from clinching its first postseason berth in three years, after Drake’s Hunter Kennedy scored in the 87th minute to send Des Moines home with a 2-1 win over the Rochester Thunder.
“Everyone on the team’s thinking about the playoffs, but we really want to win the division,” said Menace head coach Casey Mann. “We’ve got a good group of guys. Through all the ups and downs, they’ve really hung together. Now it’s all about working on putting the final pieces together.”
The victory distances the first-place Menace (8-1-4, 28 points) from the other three teams vying for one of the Heartland Division’s three playoff spots. Heading into its final three regular-season tilts, the Menace sits four points above second-place Real Colorado (7-4-3), a team that does not play its final two matches until July 17-18.
St. Louis (6-2-5, 23 points) and home team Thunder Bay (6-3-3, 21 points) face off on Friday and Saturday in a key series that will shape the postseason race.
For the second time in 10 days, the Menace escaped Rochester Community and Technical College with a one-goal victory.
Kennedy’s volley was set up by Yuki Kariya, who controlled a rebound and delivered a perfect cross to Kennedy, who struck the ball into a wide-open net.
This is the Menace’s third game-winning goal from a Drake player this season. Garrett Webb scored in the 86th minute of the Menace’s 1-0 win here on June 28. Thomas Ostrander’s header was the difference in a 1-0 win over Real Colorado on May 16.
Brad Barraclough spotted the Menace a 1-0 lead when he scored in tonight’s 10th minute. The Thunder tied the match on a PK four minutes into the second half.
The Menace sweeps its three-match season series against Rochester (5-8-1), an expansion club that has suffered seven one-goal losses, including each of its encounters with Des Moines.
“Kudos to Rochester,” Mann said. “They’re a very high quality first-year organization. They have a great future ahead of them.”
Des Moines bounced back from Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Thunder Bay – the team’s first setback in exactly one year, snapping a league-best 15-match unbeaten streak.
“It was important to rebound from a frustrating loss,” Mann said. “This game was also important in that we need to continue to develop the depth we’ll need in order to make a run in the playoffs.”
COMING UP: The Menace can punch its playoff ticket by beating the Springfield Demize on Saturday at Valley Stadium.
The team welcomes Springfield for the annual Susan G. Komen Kick for the Cure match. The 7:30 p.m. contest is presented by Principal Financial Group. Fans get in for just $5 when wearing a pink or Race for the Cure t-shirt. Menace Kick for the Cure wristbands are available for $1, with all proceeds benefitting Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Des Moines’ final two opportunities come July 16 at Kansas City and July 18 at home against rival St. Louis.
KICK FOR THE CURE CHALLENGE: The Menace hosts the first annual Kick for the Cure Challenge tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Teamwork Acres in Waukee. All participants are asked to raise at least $100 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
The night will include food, breast-cancer survivor stories, and small-sided soccer games with the PDL players. Prizes will be given out all night long with the grand prize going to the person who raises the most money. All proceeds benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.