MASON CITY - Alex Bello's goal came 2 minutes into overtime and lifted the Marshalltown Community College men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over host NIACC in Wednesday's ICCAC clash.
After being outscored 6-2 by Marshalltown in their first meeting nearly a month earlier at MCC, the host Trojans (6-8, 3-5) stepped up their physicality. The increased pressure on the ball rattled MCC early, head coach Rafael Martinez said, but the Tigers (8-3-1, 6-2-0) regained their stride and captured their third consecutive victory by doing a better job moving the ball ahead of NIACC's defense after halftime.
"It was a very intense game," Martinez said. "NIACC was very physical and that was to their advantage. Both teams played very hard and NIACC did a good job of preventing us from playing our best game.
"It was a good conference game. It reminded me of a playoff game because both teams had good chances and both teams kept trying so hard."
Bello scored unassisted on what Martinez called "a bullet" from just beyond the goal area.
"In the first half NIACC played better than us," he said, "we held the ball too long and allowed the defense to get to the ball and win the ball with pressure.
"In the second half we moved the ball faster, that's how we adjusted. That's what really allowed us to play our game, the speed of movement of the ball made a difference."
Both Alfredo Piedra and Juan Castrejon saw time at goalkeeper for MCC, as an injury knocked Piedra out midway through the second half. Both keepers made two saves in the shutout victory, MCC's second overtime win in as many chances.
Next up for the Tigers is a tilt with ICCAC frontrunner Iowa Western (10-0-1, 7-0-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Reivers, ranked fifth by the NJCAA, have won nine in a row. MCC fell 3-0 in a road clash earlier this season.
"I think the players and I know we as coaches want to redeem ourselves and have a good game against them," Martinez said. "I think everyone will agree the first time we played them, that was our weakest game of the season."