On paper, this was supposed to be a nailbiter.
On the pitch, it was anything but.
The Marshalltown boys' soccer team played its fifth match in three days and looked anything but lethargic, leaving Des Moines Lincoln in the wake of a 4-1 deficit on Monday night at Leonard Cole Field.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Marshalltown’s Luis Nunez (10) thanks Martin Chavarria for the assist on Nunez’s go-ahead goal in the sixth minute of the Bobcats’ soccer match against Des Moines Lincoln on Monday at Leonard Cole Field. Nunez and Chavarria had two goals apiece as MHS won 4-1.
The two teams shared one common opponent - both beating Southeast Polk by one goal - but showed few commonalities otherwise. Bobcat sophomore goalkeeper Kreighton Miller was there to bail out his defense's few miscues while forwards Martin Chavarria and Luis Nunez notched two goals apiece for Marshalltown (6-2).
Lincoln netminder Austin Little was left defenseless a couple of times, getting nothing more than a glance at a Bobcat shot on its way to the back of the net as MHS marched to victory.
"It's a really good win, especially after having four games on Saturday," said MHS head coach Creighton Jenness. "You worry about their legs and then to pull out a performance like this is really good."
The Railsplitters (4-2) had won four straight since losing their opener to Class 3A No. 2-ranked West Des Moines Valley by one goal, and Lincoln had the first good scoring chance of Monday's match as well.
Jose Castruita, the team's leading goal scorer, was stopped by Miller's diving save to his right during the fourth minute. Marshalltown transitioned the other way with Nunez shanking a shot wide left, but he didn't miss his next opportunity.
Martin Chavarria broke through from his left forward position and skipped a pass across the goal area to Nunez, who stuffed it home for a 1-0 Bobcat lead.
Nunez made it a two-goal game in the 24th minute when he split the wickets of Lincoln's would-be defender Justin Weeks and beat Little to his left with the perfect shot.
"Oh my goodness," said Jenness, a former keeper, of the goal. "Just a tricky little player, he can get in and out of people and that was a heck of a finish. I think he hit that inside bender and it was close to the upper 90, if not hitting it. Excellent finish. As a goalkeeper you're like, 'I can't do anything about that.'"
Lincoln cut the lead in half with Dominic Cosimo's first goal of the season assisted by Castruita with 11:56 left in the first half, but Chavarria responded with a whole lot of hustle.
Austin Lovin chased down a long pass up the right sideline and sent a crossing pass into the goal area. Little sat back as two Lincoln defenders watched the ball pass them by, and Chavarria came from nowhere to send Marshalltown back in front by two.
"When we gave pressure, we got results," said Jenness. "Pressure gave us opportunities to score. We didn't (score) it every time but we still got the opportunities."
Lincoln again started fast in the second half but Miller was up to task, finishing the night with 12 saves.
"I told the guys at halftime, 3-1 is dangerous, they still think they can come back and win," said Jenness. "Making it 4-1 is a little more out of the question, so if you can hit 5-1 you can kill the game right there."
With the Rails pushing their midfielders into the attack to try and cut into the two-goal margin, Marshalltown had numerous scoring chances after intermission.
Chavarria finally capitalized on one of them - a long flip throw by junior defender Eli Devine - to make it 4-1 with 8:38 left in regulation for his team-leading 10th goal.
David Duran and Mi Reh had chances to increase the lead, and Chavarria's quest for his third hat trick of the season skipped a foot outside the post as the Bobcats kept the heat on through the final horn.
MHS will make it six matches in four days when it travels to Tama today for a 4:30 p.m. contest against South Tama (1-6).
"Kreighton made some excellent saves tonight so hopefully the guys can continue to play like this tomorrow night and we'll see how the result goes," said Jenness. "We're starting to play together and a lot of guys were getting some minutes in so they'll be ready if some guys are a bit lagging."