Mueng Sunday (top), Hayden Partain (7) and teammates mobbed goal-scoring hero Ramone Howell (10). Photo credit: Joe Sprunger
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Saturday, July 8, 2017 – Next weekend looms large for the Des Moines Menace.
In the Premier Development League Game of the Week, the hosts won tonight’s must-win game to set up two more at Valley Stadium.
The Menace conquered the rival St. Louis Lions, 3-1, to catapult from fourth to second place in the Heartland Division standings. Fighting for one of the division’s two playoff spots, Des Moines controls its fate heading into a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against Saint Louis FC U23 and Chicago FC United.
“Our playoffs start now,” Menace goalkeeper Kyle Ihn said. “Our mentality needs to be the same as it was tonight. We can’t take anything for granted.”
St. Louis drew first blood, putting Des Moines into a hole less than 10 minutes into this cage fight. A score from Sam Lee gave the visitors the upper-hand in the Lions’ hopes of repeating their 1-0 home win over the Menace on May 27.
But then Hayden Partain responded with a free-kick goal in the 33rd minute. The ball smacked off the underside of the cross-bar and plopped right inside the goal line.
And Ramone Howell’s first two goals of the season provided the lead (in first-half stoppage time) and padded on some insurance (84th minute).
“It’s always good to score,” Howell said. “It was great personally for me, but it was a great team effort, too. Slipping up is the last thing on our agenda. We’re going in like every game is our last.”
The Menace’s postseason hopes – and the possibility of a fourth straight division title – continue into the last week of the regular season.
Des Moines is 6-4-2 (20 points) – a point above the Lions (6-5-1) and Saint Louis FC U23 (5-3-4). The trio is chasing first-place Thunder Bay (7-3-2, 23 points), which hosts Chicago tomorrow and the Lions on Wednesday.
Winning both of its remaining games would clinch the Menace’s 15th playoff appearance.
- Snapping a three-match PDL winless streak, the Menace earned its first win since topping Thunder Bay 1-0 on June 17 at home.
- Des Moines dropped home matches the last two Saturdays.
- The Menace is 17-6-10 all-time (9-2-6 home) against the Lions in a series that began in 2006.
- St. Louis has not left Iowa with a win since spoiling Des Moines’ Valley Stadium opener, 2-1, on May 10, 2008.
- At the end of June, the Lions were 6-2-1 and in first place; they've opened July with three straight losses.
MAN of the MATCH: Ramone Howell for his two-goal performance. In his third year with the Menace, Howell is a student-athlete at Valparaiso and a native of Portmore, Jamaica.
Howell subbed in for the injured David Zalzman in the 32nd minute, and he scored his first goals since striking twice in the Menace’s 5-1 playoff win over K-W United last July.
UP NEXT: The Menace closes the season next weekend with two pivotal matches at Valley Stadium: against Saint Louis FC U23 on Fireworks Friday and against Chicago FC United on Saturday.
Fans get two matches for the price of one on Saturday. On Fan Appreciation Night, the Menace women host the Chicago Red Stars Reserves at 4:30.
Match: St. Louis Lions at Des Moines Menace
Date: Saturday, July 8, 2017
Competition: Premier Development League regular season
Venue: Valley Stadium (artificial turf) in West Des Moines, Iowa
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CDT
Weather: 80s, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
MENACE 2 1 3
StL 1 0 1
MENACE – Hayden Partain 33:00; Ramone Howell (Devyn Jambga) 45:00+; Howell (Tucker Stephenson) 84:00
StL – Sam Lee 10:00
ABOUT THE MENACE: The Des Moines Menace provides the highest level of soccer in Iowa. In its 24th season, the Menace men’s team competes in the Premier Development League (PDL). In its sixth 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 tournaments, camps and clinics.