Regina used a stout defense and a re-energized second-half attack to beat Iowa Mennonite 3-0 Tuesday night at Regina.
“We try to be really organized,” Regina senior defender Nick Dolezal said. “I’m back there telling them what to do. We have coaches on the sideline telling them what to do. We try to keep everything in front of us. We have a great midfield that works hard to cut off anything early and great forwards keeping the ball up top.”
IMS (9-3) had the wind in the first half, and that was a point of concern for the Regal defense. For the first 25 minutes of the half, the game was mostly played on the Regal defensive side of the field, but IMS rarely threatened the goal.
“We see that a lot,” Dolezal said of IMS’s conservative strategy. “Teams try to push one fast guy all the way up, and they try to get it with a counterattack or a lucky goal or something and then they try to play defense on us.”
IMS showed a lot of speed up top and some good technical skills, while the back line was tough and tireless. But the Regals may have eventually worn down their opponent with their depth.
“They beat us to balls all night long and it’s hard to maintain possession when that happens,” IMS coach Marcus Miller said. “I don’t know that they did anything fancy, but they controlled the middle of the field. We did at times, and we talked about switching the field, and we didn’t make that happen until the very end.”
The Regals (4-0) were in more control the final part of the first half, but neither team managed a goal. Regina out-shot IMS 7-2 and had three shots on goal to just one for IMS in the half.
“We talked about that; as good as their defense is and as compact as they are, we were going to have to take some shots from outside,” Miller said. “And we just didn’t make that happen.”
At halftime the Regals “regrouped,” Dolezal said.
“We knew we weren’t playing as well as we could,” Regina senior A.J. Adam said. “We came out against Solon, we played a great game, really dominated the game against Solon (Saturday). We knew we could play better. Definitely more energy. We had a much better passing game the second half.”
The Regals had the wind at their backs, but it never was much of a factor in the second half except perhaps psychologically. Regina was the aggressor the whole half. Michael Adam almost scored just 90 seconds into the second half when he was one-on-one with goalie Joel Shetler, but Adam hit the ball right at Shetler, who caught it to end the threat.
Finally the Regals got the go-ahead goal 14 minutes into the second half on a shot from A.J. Adam. The ball ricocheted off an IMS defender, which changed its direction and found the net to the keeper’s right.
“It was a really lucky bounce,” A.J. Adam said. “It hit off the guy and it was spinning a lot so when it hit the ground it actually went into the goal. I think it was going to hit the post but it spun right in.”
“I don’t think our goalie quite picked it up,” Miller said.
Adam thought that goal further energized the Regals.
Regina kept the pressure on and Aaron Schmitz scored twice, first with 8 minutes left on a run where he booted it to the side of the keeper. Shetler didn’t have much of a chance again, this time because the defenders weren’t able to get in front of the active Schmitz.
Schmitz scored a second goal 2 minutes later when he converted a bouncing ball into a turn and shoot at the top of the box.
Second-ranked Regina out-shot No. 11 IMS 13-1 in the second half and had six shots on goal. The Regals had five corners to one for IMS.
“Some of the things we need to improve on are the things that take place in the summer and in the fall, getting into the weight room, being more physical,” Miller said. “I thought our guys competed well. I was kind of disappointed to give up the three goals. The guys I have in the back have really done well and worked their tails off all year.”