The sophomore class has been one of the best that the Tiger Soccer Program has seen over the last two years, and Friday was no different. Starting 11 sophomores against William Penn's JV squad, the team left no questions of their dominance, dropping the Statesmen 5-0 in the final game of regular season play.
The scoring started out slow for the Tigers, who dominated possession and field position but several costly offside penalties kept the Tiger offense from getting a shot off until the 30th minute. In the 30th minute, a play developed on the right side of the midfield where sophomore Pedro Silva crossed a ball to a streaking sophomore Joel Valderas on the left wing. Valderas was able to beat a defender and then the keeper to get the Tigers on the board. The goal was the fourth for Valderas on the season, while the assist was the second for Silva.
Once the scoring door was opened, the Tigers did not waste any time capitalizing on the accurate passing of freshman Marco Medeiros to fellow freshmen Sekou Kromah. Kromah used quick footwork to get a shot off and find the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season. The assist was the second for Medeiros.
Another scoring opportunity would emerge four minutes later in the 38th minute when a Statesmen foul in the box led to a Tiger penalty kick. Valderas was elected to take the kick, which he buried in the bottom left corner of the net. The goal was the second of the match for Valderas, fifth on the season.
The Tigers would carry their momentum into the second half, again dominating possession as well as field position keeping the pressure on William Penn. In the 51st minute, sophomore Leonardo Tomasi would perfectly place a corner kick to find the head of sophomore Rafael Vacas to start the second half scoring. The goal would raise Vacas's ICCAC leading mark to 17, while the assist is Tomasi's seventh of the season, good enough for second highest on the team.
MCC would launch nine shots that were rejected by the William Penn keeper over the next 23 minutes before a golden opportunity would emerge. Another Statesmen foul in the box would allow for sophomore Nicolas Mattaldi to net the first goal of his Tiger career as he beat the keeper into the right side of the net. Throughout the match, the Statesmen would manage three shots, all on goal which sophomore Goalkeeper Tom Wackens would deny for the clean sheet, his fourth of the season.
"I felt like we did not bring our intensity to the level that we needed for the entire match, and this is something that will put an end to our season if it is repeated in the semifinals," Head Coach Rafael Martinez commented about the match. "There were many moments in which we did what we needed to do, but not consistently at the level that Marshalltown soccer is accustomed to this year."
Fifteen sophomores were recognized pregame for their work and accomplishments while students-athletes for MCC. Over their two years, they have an overall record of 28-4 and have been ranked within the NJCAA every week that they have taken the field. They also were a part of a team named Academic Team of the Year by the NJCAA in 2017-2018, maintaining a team GPA of 3.0 for both the fall and spring semesters.
"We are very excited that we were able to celebrate the sophomores today and their time with MCC Soccer. I do not forget that they made a commitment to our team two times, when they were recruited and when they chose to come back for their second year. They have faced many challenges and they have demonstrated a high level of commitment that has led to their success. They will be greatly missed after the season is finished," Martinez remarked about the sophomores.
The Tigers will have a break before hosting the ICCAC Regional semifinal match on October 23rd at 2PM, opponent to be determined.