WEST DES MOINES - It was one of the best seasons in Marshalltown boys' soccer history. Unfortunately, it ended one game shy of the state tournament.
Class 4A Dowling Catholic used two second-half goals less than two minutes apart to grab an advantage and then held off a late rally by the Bobcats during a 2-1 victory at the Substate 8 championship match at Valley Stadium.
"We gave up a lot of corner kicks, too many corner kicks," Marshalltown coach Creighton Jenness said. "When that happens, with the set pieces and the quality of team that Dowling is, they will eventually convert them."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown senior Alfonso Gonzalez wins a 50-50 ball against a defender from Dowling Catholic during their substate title match at Valley Stadium on Saturday. The seventh-ranked Maroons ended the 14th ranked Bobcats’ season 2-1.
The Maroons converted only one of their nine corner kicks on the day, but Tom Bowman's tally in the 58th minute gave the Maroons a lead they wouldn't surrender.
Peter Odia then made it 2-0 1 minute, 40 seconds later.
That would eventually be enough as the Maroons' defense did the rest, holding Marshalltown (16-3) to just seven shots on goal in the match.
"We didn't get a lot of shots on goal. If you don't get a lot of shots on goal, you aren't going to get those chances to score," Jenness said. "And the shots we got were 25-30 yards out. It would be hard to put it around a goalkeeper like that.
"(Dowling) played well on the defensive end. They played a flat three and then had a sweeper in the back. We were not able to execute against it. Ames also plays that defense."
The Little Cyclones beat MHS 3-0 in Ames earlier this year.
Saturday's match was originally scheduled to be played on the campus of Dowling Catholic but was moved to Valley Stadium because rain flooded the Maroons' homefield. That altered the schedule of the Bobcats, who were not told about the change in venue until the MHS bus was set to leave Marshalltown.
"We didn't think we would play," Jenness said. "Their field was under water. The alternate field was under water. We finally made the decision at 9:30-9:45 that we were playing here. Our bus left at 9:45. We played the best complete game of the season despite those other factors."
Saturday's match with Dowling Catholic did not come without a bit of controversy.
The first goal from the Maroons came off a corner kick that was headed in by Bowman. However, Bobcat goalkeeper Kreighton Miller pleaded to the officials that he was held down by Bowman on the play. No call was made and Bowman scored easily.
"If a goalkeeper goes up in the air and gets knocked down, that's a foul. That is my opinion," Jenness said. "The official said the guy jumped over Kreighton. I don't know how you can jump over a goalkeeper who uses his hands and then still be able to head the ball without fouling him."
Before the Maroons were awarded a corner kick, Odia appeared to shove MHS senior defender Eli Devine, but nothing was called on the play. The Bobcats could have cleared the ball out of the defensive zone on the free kick but the no call kept the ball in Dowling's half of the field and the Maroons took advantage.
"Every play in the game is going to impact the next play," Jenness said. "We can talk about those instances and those two goals, but we still had 80 minutes to play the game."
The Bobcats got within one goal with 8:20 to play in the game after David Gomez converted a penalty kick. Junior Martin Chavarria was taken down in the box prior to the PK.
Dowling Catholic coach Matt Dryer had a long conversation with the official after that goal, pleading that there was no foul on the play.
Even with some controversy, the Maroons still out-shot the Bobcats 27-11 and had a 12-7 advantage in shots on goal and a 9-1 advantage in corner kicks.
MHS should have a strong chance to return to the substate final next year and with so many key pieces returning, may get over the hump and into the state tournament.
The Bobcats graduate starters Mi Reh, Victor Cisneros and Eli Devine and also lose Alfonso Gonzalez and Jacob Heatwole, but Chavarria, Gomez, Austin Lovin, Taylor Fuccio, Agustin Ortiz, Ellis Buchwald and Miller all return to the starting lineup in 2014.
"We played in the substate final and that hasn't happened here in awhile," Jenness said. "They played excellent today. We have five seniors on the varsity but most of our team is juniors and sophomores. It's a great feeling to get this far and know we have a lot coming back. It was a great accomplishment."
The Maroons' defense frustrated Chavarria, one of Class 3A's top goal scorers, all afternoon. The Bobcat junior was marked throughout the game and never really attempted a decent shot on goal. ... Miller finished with 10 saves. ... Dowling Catholic's Luke Davis was issued a yellow card in the second half. He assisted on Bowman's goal, while Collin Heaman was given the assist on the Odia tally. ... Seven fouls were called on both squads. ... The Boys State Soccer Tournament will begin Thursday at Cownie Soccer Complex in Des Moines. ... In other substate matches featuring CIC schools, Ankeny beat West Des Moines Valley, 2-1, while Johnston bested Ames, 2-1. ... Dowling Catholic won the state title most recently in 2008 and 2011. ... Chavarria ended the season with 19 goals.